Cape Town - Civil rights group AfriForum and trade union Solidarity are prepared to go to court to fight against government’s implementation of the quota system in sport.
The two organisations on Tuesday announced comprehensive legal plans in response to recent statements on quotas in South African sport made by sports minister Fikile Mbalula.
In April this year, Mbalula announced that the four main sports governing bodies - Athletics South Africa (ASA), the South African Rugby Union (SARU), Cricket South Africa (CSA) and Netball South Africa (NSA) - may not bid to host any major international tournament in South Africa as they have not yet achieved their transformation targets.
AfriForum’s CEO Kallie Kriel explained that the complaints AfriForum and Solidarity will lodge with international sports federations would be based on two strong pillars as the regulations of almost all international sporting bodies expressly prohibit any form of racial discrimination and government interference in sport.
“This ban on racial discrimination and government interference is stated unambiguously in the Olympic Charter of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which is applicable to most forms of sport. It is also contained in the regulations of, among others, the International Rugby Board (IRB), the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the International Netball Federation (INF),” Kriel said via a press statement.
According to Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann, Mbalula’s drastic steps amount to nothing but unfair labour practice.
“By no manner of means do the Employment Equity Act and the National Sport and Recreation Act make provision for government interference in the selection of players for teams. This is exactly what the minister is now doing, and as civil society we simply cannot allow this to happen,” Hermann said.
As part of its legal steps, AfriForum and Solidarity will now turn to the Labour Court to set aside the Strategic Transformation Plan of the South African Rugby Union (SARU) as well as the Transformation Charter for South African Sport containing government’s transformation targets for sport.
AfriForum and Solidarity will also lodge complaints against quotas in sport with the United Nations (UN), various sporting bodies and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Also included is a request for an investigation into each individual sports union’s targets for affirmative action as outlined in their respective affirmative action plans.
Hermann is of the opinion that the affirmative action targets as contained in the Transformation Charter for South African Sport and SARU’s strategic transformation plan are in breach of the Employment Equity Act.
“Not only do these plans not take the pool of suitable candidates into consideration, but no consultation took place with players or trade unions about the targets in those plans either. We also contend that in effect those plans amount to a quota system, which the Employment Equity Act prohibits,” Hermann said.