Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, the Honourable Nathi Mthethwa
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Ms B Dlulane
DG and Officials of the Department
Chairpersons and Chief Executive Officers of our Public Entities
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
sport and recreation is a bedrock for social cohesion and nation building, with the impact able to even extend far beyond our national borders.
To that end, please allow me to remind you what our beloved founding fathers of this constitutional democracy, uTata Madiba, once counselled about sport:
"Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination."
It is for this reason that we will continue supporting mass participation in sport and recreation, by facilitating opportunities for people to share space, and by providing equipment and / or attire to schools, sport hubs and sport clubs, with a particular focus on disadvantaged communities. This will happen as we also continue to support competitive sport, towards the fulfilment of our goal; that of being a winning nation.
The pandemic has had a greater impact on the sport sector, and in particular, in the delivery of the commitments made to develop and transform the sporting landscape. The lockdown from March 2020 resulted in the immediate cancellation of almost all sporting events.
At this point, please allow me to also proudly announce some of the important milestones achieved, notwithstanding the limitations COVID-19 imposed on us as a sector.
Within the Active Nation Programme, I am pleased to report on the following achievements:
Three sport and recreation promotion campaigns and events, namely the Big Walk, the National Recreation Day and Ministerial Outreach activations, were implemented and a sum total of 3 405 people actively participated in these events. Obviously, the plan going forward is to ensure that as many people as possible participate, especially in the post-COVID dispensation.
Related to the afore-mentioned, a total of 32 716 people actively participated in organized sport and active recreation events organized in all the nine provinces, through the Mass Participation Conditional Grant allocated on an equitable basis to the provinces by this Department.
School sport remains a key platform on which to nurture talent but also to get our young people physically active. In that regard, a total of 3 965 schools, hubs and clubs were provided with equipment and / or attire, as per the established norms and standards of the Department.
Following on these milestones in respect of the year that was, please allow me now to confirm our firm commitments for the incoming year, notwithstanding the limitations of COVID-19 and the very tight fiscal environment under which we will continue to operate.
Firstly, we will encourage an active nation and contribute to improving the overall wellbeing of South Africans through lifelong participation in active recreation by facilitating the delivery of at least 5 active recreation programmes, which are to reach no less than 50 000 participants.
Secondly, we shall endeavour to encourage lifelong physical activity, by providing mass sport participation opportunities, to at least 5 000 community members, across the 3 sport promotion events.
Thirdly, we have every intention to increase learners' access to sport at schools by supporting the National School Sport Championships which would accommodate no less than 5 000 participating learners. This will be augmented by provision of equipment and attire to 2 500 schools, hubs and clubs.
Chairperson and Honourable members, it is a well-known fact that participation in sports plays a critical role in the development and growth of children.
I am therefore delighted to share with this house that the school sport programme, has received a huge boost, in the form of the recently launched DStv Schools Netball Challenge.
It could not have come at a more opportune time, given the upcoming Netball World Cup 2023 to be hosted by South Africa.
It is our intention that this partnership with DStv will contribute tremendously to further transformation of the sport.
As we grapple with issues of gender equality and gender-based violence, sports such as Netball can be a great tool to empower young women.
And lastly, we will increase the provision of opportunities for mass participation in sport and recreation in all nine provinces, by providing management and financial support through the Mass Participation and Sport Development Grant.
Let me further also restate this Department's commitment in identifying, developing and nurturing raw talent, through increased access into our national sport academies and also through the scientific support programme. Again this is in pursuit of the broader goal of creating a nation of winners and thereby boosting our national pride and identity.
We commit to transformation in the sporting landscape, with particular focus on those problematic sporting codes that seem to have been resistant to change.
In that regard, we will continue to implement the recommendations of the latest report of the Eminent Persons Group, with regards to transformation in sport. Given the enormity of the task, the vested interests, and contestations, this remains work-in-progress.
As an incentive also, we will continue to give financial support to those national sport federations that meet their transformation targets. Let me also say that it has been our candid observation in the recent past, that some of the national sport federations have increasingly resorted to malicious compliance, by setting the bar way too low, in terms of their transformation targets, such that the desired impact is hardly ever felt. To that end, we will be embarking on a massive policy review so as to remedy the situation.
Chairperson and Honorable members, as we speak of sport, we must also be mindful of its "gendered" nature; and the need to provide more sporting opportunities to women and girls. Given the centrality of patriarchy on our nation's social fabric, women and girls have always been systematically excluded from sport; and therefore, we cannot leave the status quo as is, much to the detriment of our womenfolk and young girls.
Just to remind this House, and as part of our commitment to ransformation, the Department has and continues to support South African Double Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya in her fight against International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF)'s discriminatory gender regulations.
Following the Swiss Federal Court ruling, the Department provided additional financial support, to assist both Caster Semenya's and ASA legal teams, to pursue the matter at the European Court for Human Rights.
Parallel to this process, both the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) have approached DIRCO, in pursuit of lobbying government to be involved and mobilise international solidarity in support of Caster Semenya in her fight with the IAAF. Collaboration and cooperation between these parties and the Department is underway.
In April 2021, this fight was bolstered by the announcement by LUX, one of South Africa's big brands, of its partnership with Ms Semenya in her fight against the IAAF, and in her quest to be allowed to compete in the 800m race in the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
As the Department, we are calling on corporate South Africa to follow LUX example by launching similar campaigns in support of this important human rights cause. For its part, the LUX campaign slogan in support of Caster Semenya is "LUX stands with Caster. LUX stands for all women".
While every effort is being made for more women and girls to participate in sport, the pace of change on this front has been slow. It is within this context that we saw the need to work towards Women in Sport National Policy; itself an instrument to rid sport of all forms of gender discrimination and prejudices. We are on course in finalizing this work and it is envisaged that the policy will be formally promulgated in this financial year.
Chairperson and Honourable members, the use of drugs and other banned substances has been identified as a serious problem in sport and for which urgent policy and legislative interventions are necessary. To that end, we have set in motion the South Africa Institute for Drug-Free in Sport Amendment Bill, which must still undergo broad stakeholder consultations, then followed by its lodgement in parliament.
Emanating from the Proclamation by the President of the Republic of South Africa, the Department of Arts and Culture was merged with the Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa to form a single Ministry, effective from 01 April 2020. The merging of these two portfolios provided government with the opportunity to re-position itself to deliver a better service to the people of South Africa.
I am glad to announce that no employee of the two former Departments was affected negatively by the merger. In cases where there were "employees in excess", the Department facilitated their placement in other government Departments/institutions, where there were open vacancies.
The Department will in this financial year, undertake an organizational design exercise.
The aim of the organizational design exercise will be to determine if the Department has the appropriate numbers of people, with the right skills, in the right jobs, and at the right time. The organizational review exercise will assist the Department to develop a fit-for-purpose structure.
The Department has also faired much better on the equity front, standing at the cusp of reaching 50/50 split in terms of equity target for SMS members. While the target is 50%, currently, women constitute 48.39% of SMS membership.
In terms of persons with disabilities, the national average is 7.5%. The current statistics indicate a 2.34% of persons with disabilities as part of the SMS membership.
I also wish to remind Honorable Members that this year, Cabinet made a declaration that 2021 will be "the year of Charlotte Maxeke". In that regard, we have sought to incorporate her into the thematic schema for all our national days this year.
The reason I am reminding you about this Cabinet's declaration is that at its heart is a candid reminder of the task that still lies before us, in fighiting Gender Based Violence, femicide and all forms of gender discrimination, as uMama Charlotte Maxeke would have wanted us to do.
In terms of this Cabinet declaration, we are being called to involve ourselves in public activations across this country, as a practical way to safeguard her legacy of high morality, gender equality, selflessness, service and sacrifice. Along that same thought, we shall also mark the International Albinism Awareness Day, in collaboration with the creatives in the sector as well as with the Department of Social Development. This is part of our social cohesion agenda of providing platforms to vulnerable groups. The International Albinism Awareness Day, as declared by the United Nations is 13 June.
Our commitment to the National Strategic Plan (NSP) against GBV and Femicide remains unequivocal. And we will continue to make a contribution to the NSP, through two of the six pillars identified in the NSP; namely:
(a) Prevention and Rebuilding Social Cohesion Pillar
(b) Response, Care, Support and Healing Pillar
Chairperson and Honorable Members, please allow me to also remind you that in terms of our national commemorative calendar, this Month of May is Africa Month; and thus, in everything that we do, we need to be conscious of our history, heritage, and collective identity as Africans; and the obligations this consciousness imposes on us. This is also in line with the AU's declaration of 2021 as the year of the arts, culture and heritage.
The bigger call is about pursuing the "Africa we want", as per the AU's declaration.
Honourable Chairperson, I therefore humbly commend this House to pass the budget as tabled!
I thank you for your attention!