Letter to the Speaker and the Chairperson of the Joint Rules Committee regarding "Unacceptable behaviour of the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Sports and Recreation" from the UDM President (23 July 2008)

Dear Madam

The above-mentioned matter refers. I will not repeat the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee of Sport's (hon. Mr B Komphela) statements regarding SASCOC, suffice to say that his comments were racist and don't reflect the views of the Committee or its individual members. There is a big difference between advocating transformation, on the one hand, and outright racism, on the other.

It comes as no surprise that SASCOC has reacted to these unmandated and offensive remarks by the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee. Now we hear that the Portfolio Committee has summoned SASCOC to appear before it on Tuesday 29 July 2008.

We believe the correct process would be for the Committee to first meet and discuss whether or not the Chairperson brought the Committee and Parliament into disrepute with his racist comments. I am of the view that we must first establish whether he was correct in saying what he did, before this institution seeks to intimidate members of civil society for not simply accepting an abuse of parliamentary privilege.

The Rules Committee needs to advise on whether it is not correct that the Department of Sport and Recreation is responsible for the management of transformation in sport. That, in fact, the Portfolio Committee's first duty is to exercise oversight over the Department of Sport. Therefore it would seem only sensible that the Committee should be asking of the Department what budget, benchmarks and targets it has dedicated towards transformation in Sport. In turn the Department should tell the Portfolio Committee whether it is making progress in each sporting code. The Department and the particular sporting code can appear jointly before the Committee when these reports are made.

The current ad hoc process of seemingly randomly picking sporting codes without consulting the responsible Department and then calling people names and issuing threats is counter-productive and will sooner or later backfire.

We already hear the hullabaloo in the media about invoking Parliament's powers to summon people, when we have not yet addressed the underlying reasons for this whole situation arising in the first place, which has nothing to do with SASCOC and everything to do with the Chairperson of the Committee and the manner in which the Committee conducts its business.

We appeal to the Rules Committee to outline clearly in writing the role of the Portfolio Committee, and the relationship between it and the Department and the various sporting codes. In particular, we would appreciate clarity from you about public utterances by people who masquerade as spokespersons for the Committee, without any mandate from the Committee.

Bantu Holomisa, MP
UDM President

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