Cape Town - Fikile Mbalula’s decision to ban SA Rugby from bidding for the 2023 Rugby World Cup would be an “own goal”.
That is the view of Democratic Alliance (DA) deputy shadow minister for Sport and Recreation, Darren Bergman, who was responding to national sport minister Fikile Mbalula’s budget speech in Cape Town on Friday.
Mbalula confirmed that R1.28 billion had been allocated for the 2016/17 financial year, and that 66% of that money would be focused on development at grassroots level.
Mbalula was firm once more on government’s heightened focus on transformation, and he said that there was “no turning back”.
“I will never retreat,” Mbalula said of his fight to see transformation take shape across South Africa’s sporting codes.
Mbalula banned the national federations for cricket, rugby, athletics and netball from bidding for or hosting major international events last month after an Eminent Person’s Group (EPG) report revealed that those federations had not met their transformation targets for 2014/15.
That decision would only be reviewed when the next EPG report is discussed, expected to be around May 2017.
The ban places South Africa’s potential hosting of the 2023 World Cup at serious risk with World Rugby this month releasing the relevant tender information to all potential host nations.
Bergman challenged government, saying that they had failed to facilitate transformation through a lack of service delivery.
He added that transformation should, instead of being a quota system, focus on mass participation and a drive to make mainstream sports in South Africa more accessible.
The National Freedom Party (NFP), meanwhile, agreed that government had not done enough to provide sufficient sporting infrastructure at school level.
They also criticised Mbalula’s approach after the findings of the EPG report, saying that his actions contributed towards a racial divide in the country.