When sitting down to write my speech for today’s debate, I found myself in a bit of a quagmire.
Do I talk about the facts and the figures, like that fact that the Democratic Alliance welcomes the 8.64% increase in Cultural Affairs and the 44.67% increase in Library and Information Services.
These facts and figures are detailed in the committees report.
Today I want to talk mostly about items that are not mentioned in the report, and some forward thinking, or lack thereof.
The first immediate item is Bayworld Oceanarium and Museum.
Bayworld is constantly advertised by the municipality and this province as Port Elizabeth’s premier tourist destination. It featured highly in the city’s campaign to become a Host City and to receive the stadium that stands there today. Yet the department has allowed this facility to fall by the wayside.
The provincial government has allowed Bayworld to degrade to such an extent that its star attractions, dolphins Domino and Dumisa, had to be relocated to a facility in Hong Kong about 10 months ago.
Although the MEC promised unconditional support for Bayworld, there is not an iota of specified budget to upgrade or maintain this institution.
We need to think ahead.
Saving Bayworld without completely bankrupting other departments requires a three faceted approach. Firstly, the MEC needs to urgently approach the National Ministries of Sport and Recreation or Tourism for immediate funding to make essential repairs before the Soccer World Cup that kicks off in three weeks. Secondly, a public, private partnership (PPP) needs to be created between Provincial and Local governments and the private sector to maintain the facility at acceptable standards. Finally, the same or a similar PPP needs to work on the long-term goal to expand Bayworld to be a world class facility, similar to that of uShaka in Durban.
There is consistent proof that properly managed Public Private Partnerships(PPP) have been the only way to resurrect embattled public facilities such as Bayworld.
My second concern is mentioned in the committees report. This is the fact that there is no funding budgeted for the completion of the Mthatha Stadium.
On an oversight visit to see the state of completion of the stadium, I was highly impressed with its development, and more importantly, what it will be when completed.
If completed, this will be a beautiful multi-purpose stadium with a main field, practice fields, a full professional athletics track and field. The effect that a facility such as this will have of the development of sport in the Eastern and most rural part of the province is exponential. There is between R420 million and R600 million needed to complete the project, yet, other than what is stated in the committees report, there is no further mention of sourcing the required funding.
The MEC needs to source funding immediately from National Government because if we do not keep the momentum going, I strongly fear that this stadium may become a white elephant.
We must not let this happen!
Where does Bay United, now based in Nelson Mandela Bay, come from? Mthatha.
Where does Blackburn Rovers, now also based in Madiba Bay, come from? Mthatha.
It is time that we let sport develop at the source of the talent.
Mentioning Bay United and Blackburn Rovers brings me to my third forward planning vision.
Because of the lack of sporting infrastructure in the former Transkei region, both Bay United and Blackburn Rovers have relocated to bigger and better infrastructural and economic pastures. We now have a World Class Stadium in Nelson Mandela Bay.
The estimated operational and maintenance costs are between R20 – R61 million. Per year!
Currently we have no strong soccer or rugby teams to sustain such a stadium.
The province needs to think ahead, build up either Bay United or Blackburn Rovers to PSL Level. This is done by securing talent within the province and by building the brand of the team.
Having a PSL Level soccer team would be half the job done.
The other half of my plan to sustain the stadium and to develop the provinces sporting profile is the creation of the Southern Spears or Southern Kings, as they were also called.
To do this, the MEC needs to insist that the Minister of Sports Development, Reverend Stofile, intervenes and helps to finalise the creation of this team and that the promises of them becoming a Super 15 or Super 16 team are held.
Then, the promise needs to invest in the retention of talent within the province. It was once mentioned to me that thirteen of the 20 Sharks players in one of their recent games, originate from the Eastern Cape. We need to find a way to retain that talent.
Again, a properly managed PPP between the province and a major potential sponsor like Mercedes-Benz or VW would facilitate. Once the brand and viability of the team is sustainable, then the province can step back and enjoy the economic spoils of having premier quality teams.
I must point out that during a campaign like this, us as politicians, must exercise rigorous oversight on the money that we give, but without getting to involved, as it is my belief that the only place for politics in sport is for politicians to raise funding for development of sport, no more than that. A similar PPP would help develop and retain soccer talent within the province.
Finally, a committee finding and recommendation that I have major concern with is that of the funding of the Eastern Cape Sports Council.
How is it that a body such as this, that had no formalised structure last year with is R500 000 budget, it is now given R3.6 million?
I urge all members to ask them what they did with their funding last year.
As a sportsman myself, I was asked by one of South Africa’s Olympic Bronze Medalists to join their sporting code in attending an Eastern Cape Sports Council meeting last year. What I saw was a complete mess. A total lack of leadership and numerous sporting codes that are fighting amongst themselves.
In this R3.6 million budget is a mere R1 million for the development of sport.
It last year’s meeting I saw about 20 sporting codes, roughly working out to about R50 000 per sport, working on an equal share basis, which I can guarantee you, it will not.
Also included in that R3.6 million budget is R1 million for the Eastern Cape Sports Achievers Awards Evening.
One million rands, almost 28% of the Eastern Cape Sports Councils budget will be blown in one night, one event.
If there are say 20 awards given out that evening, it works out to R50 000 per award. I believe that our rising stars should be recognised and awarded for their talents, so I suggest this. Invite them to the House, where the MEC and Premier can give them a sponsored trophy and R50 000 donated in their names to their sports code.
That would effectively double the money for development in sport.
Imagine how many badly needed sports kits R1 million could buy?
To think that the department left out specified funding for disabled sports to include extra funding for a dysfunctional sports council.
Yes, you heard me right, if I did not raise a fuss in the portfolio committee, then the report recommendation for the R300 000 ring fenced for disabled sports in the province would not be there.
I ask you this…….
Where are the priorities of the department?
Maybe they are looking forward to drinking expensive whiskey at the one million rand evening.
The Democratic Alliance supports the report with reservations.
I want to conclude by wishing Bafana Bafana well in the Soccer World Cup that starts in exactly one week.
Phambili Bafana Bafana, Phambili Aaron Makoena, Phambili!
Shoot straight Katlego Mphela!
Show them Stevie P!
Viva Bafana Bafana Viva!