Sport

DA steps into Sascoc leadership battle

Ntambi Ravele (Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images) / Barry Hendricks (Photo: Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images)
By Craig Ray
20 Apr 2020 0

The Democratic Alliance’s Shadow Minister of Sports, Arts and Recreation, Tsepo Mhlongo, has welcomed the suspension of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee acting president Barry Hendricks as the organisation was plunged into chaos last week.

Acting Sascoc president Barry Hendricks was last week suspended by the organisation’s board and put on “a leave of absence” for allegedly blocking a rival, Ntambi Ravele, from standing against him in the upcoming elections. A lawyer’s report about the alleged incident was used by the Sascoc board to suspend Hendricks. These are claims Hendricks denies.

The leadership elections have been delayed due to coronavirus. They were due to take place on 28 March, but the pandemic and weeks of internal squabbling over Hendricks’ alleged misconduct have impeded the process.

Ravele is a Tennis South Africa (TSA) board member and had ambitions of ascending to the Sascoc presidency. Her nomination was not endorsed by TSA though, after an apparent “conversation” between Hendricks and TSA.

Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa has ordered Sascoc to sort itself out after these allegations emerged by instructing the sports body to investigate the allegations against Hendricks.

 A preliminary investigation was conducted by advocate Elizabeth Baloyi-Mere, which found evidence of contraventions of the Sascoc constitution and the code of ethics of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Based on those findings there were grounds for a hearing.

In a letter addressed to Sascoc’s general assembly last Friday, Hendricks took the decision that the best form of defence was attack.

“I am angered that the Sascoc board’s unconstitutional and ludicrous decisions will further tarnish the respect of the board, the organisation and the image of the Sascoc brand,” Hendricks wrote.

“I am further infuriated that, despite the fact that Sascoc is on the verge of bankruptcy, that the Board of Sascoc has now opened the organisation up for further arbitration and litigation costs. 

“It is my considered view that most of the current board members, especially those standing for elections, have a vested interest in the outcome of the arbitration. Therefore, they are conflicted and should forthwith cease to be involved in any manner or form in trying to resolve them.”

Hendricks also stated that he couldn’t be placed on a “leave of absence” as that only applied to staff members. As he is an elected official, he claimed the Sascoc board had effectively put him on “forced suspension”.

Hendricks has questioned the allegations against him and in turn requested the full Sascoc board be dissolved and an independent administrator appointed. 

It’s another in a long list of Sascoc blemishes, once again bringing into question the need for an organisation that has a history of doing little good for the sports federations it is supposed to represent. The DA didn’t waste time climbing in. 

“The suspension of Sascoc’s acting president, Barry Hendricks, for allegedly blocking nominations to run for the Sascoc presidency, is a welcome development,” Mhlongo said in a statement.

“The allegations brought against Hendricks are appalling and could potentially cast a massive dark cloud over the already beleaguered Sascoc. 

“It is essential, given the sports federation’s tainted history, for the board and the president to be beyond reproach and to set an example of good corporate governance. Hendricks’s suspension proves that no one is above the sports federation’s constitution.

 “The DA calls for any investigation into this matter to be conducted by reputable and independent legal practitioners. This will ensure the findings and recommendations made to the Sascoc board on the future of Hendricks are objective and unquestionable. 

“Aleck Skhosana, who will now act as Sascoc president pending the finalisation of the investigation against Hendricks, has an unenviable task ahead of him of stabilising the federation in light of this scandal. I wish him well and will keep a close eye on his performance.” 

The Sascoc board held firm at the weekend, returning fire at Hendricks.

“An independent advocate, Elizabeth Baloyi-Mere who was appointed by Sascoc, gave Mr Hendricks an opportunity to present his version and after considering all the evidence presented, found that Mr Hendricks interfered in the nomination of Ms Ravele.

“So serious were the independent advocate’s findings against Mr Hendricks’ conduct that it warrants an internal investigation by the organisation.

“The Board offered Mr Hendricks the opportunity to voluntarily take leave of absence as the Acting President, guided by its powers in the Sascoc Constitution as well as the IOC Charter and the IPC handbook to which it abides.

“The Board is fully satisfied that it has acted legally, responsibly and reasonably and has not been swayed by emotion, outside influence or ulterior motives in taking the decision to relieve the Acting President of his duties until the investigation is finalised.

 “The continuing attack by Mr Hendricks on the current Board is both unprecedented and unwarranted as this is the same Board he was quite happy to lead until his leave of absence. It is unwarranted because Mr Hendricks did agree and support the obtaining of an independent legal opinion wherein the findings into his conduct were made.” DM

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