A thought on Peter De Villiers inclusion of the three Zimbabweans, Tonderai Chavhanga, Tendai Mtawarira and Brian Mujati in his 30 man squad...
I really do hate the fact that it rears its ugly head every time, but as per usual a lot has been made of the racial make up of the squad, with De Villiers being praised for his ability to drive transformation. And it seems the Zimbabweans have been quickly accepted as part of that coefficient. "They are part of the 'big African family' and that's good enough for me", said one columnist recently.
As South Africa's xenophobic traits are being exposed on a global stage, I realise this is bumpy ground, but I have to ask the question - is it actually fair to include Zimbabweans as part of a transformation drive?
Don't get me wrong, I understand that it is no different to the All Blacks utilising the skills that come out of the Pacific Islands. Not everyone is happy with that situation, but, ceteris paribus, so should South Africa harness under-utilised sporting talent of the greater continent to our benefit. The rights or wrongs of such a tactic, and it is certainly something that is keeping Sepp Blatter awake at night, is fodder for a separate debate. Today I want to know if such a tactic forms part of transformation?
To my mind, transformation in South Africa - be it through quotas in the sporting arena or a BEE scorecard in the business world - is about righting the wrongs of the past, and thus fast tracking people disadvantaged by the previous racist government into today's more normal society through offering them equal opportunities. So, if anything, including Zimbabweans in our national side does exactly the opposite, as it robs home grown South Africans of that selection!
And given that the HR people I have spoken to tell me that only South African people of colour count toward a business BEE scorecard, I wonder what has made us so quick to include the three Zimbabweans in the Bok squad as part of transformation?
If the three players had been white tobacco farmers who had been forced from their Zimbabwean farms by the Mugabe land redistribution regime and chosen South Africa as their post farming refuge, would all be so hunky dory?
I think not. So to my mind, what is being said by the acceptance of this squad by SA Rugby, is that it is not really about transformation and giving previously disadvantaged people an equal opportunity, it is about making the Bok side more black!
And in closing, if one were to replace the three Zimbabweans with the likes of Heinke van der Merwe, Jannie du Plessis and Stefan Terblanche, very realistic replacements given their Super 14 form, how would the new coach's transformation drive be looking?
Tank is a former WP tighthead prop and now Sport24 editor and the author of the blog, Front Row Grunt.
Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.