Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist


Aleck Skhosana has earned another term as ASA boss

Having to choose between two reasonable options for president is a good problem to have.


 

In an episode of one of America’s most popular animated sitcoms, the kids at South Park Elementary are given the chance to vote for a new school mascot and they’re provided with two options: a giant douche or a turd sandwich.

For the first half of my career, covering Athletics South Africa elections was like being stuck in a live version of that show.

The late Leonard Chuene, who took the reins as ASA president in the new millennium, was all sorts of useless and he was exposed as a liar and thief.

His successor, James Evans, was a manipulative dictator.

Both men ripped the sport apart, leaving it in tatters and drowning in debt.

So when Aleck Skhosana was appointed president of ASA, he was given a task that few would have accepted even with a gun held to their head.

Skhosana took up the role with a grey cloud hanging over him after giving staff of KwaZulu-Natal Athletics signed blank cheques which they used to steal millions of rand.

He’s no thief, but Skhosana’s ignorance with regards to corporate governance was exposed.

After being cleared of any real wrongdoing, however, he promised to rely on experts to guide him in future.

Subsequently, unlike many elected leaders, he did exactly what he said he was going to do.

He cleaned up the debt, stabilised an organisation which was fraught with in-fighting and patched up its public image.

Despite this, in the build-up to next month’s ASA elections, Skhosana has been criticised for two things in particular.

Firstly, he refused until recently to allow athletics competitions to resume during the coronavirus pandemic. But few countries in this world have managed to do much better, with mass participation events still on hold, and while people were no doubt frustrated, I’m not sure Skhosana should be beaten down for putting people’s health and safety first.

Secondly, he told media that athletics in this country is an amateur sport, and he was lambasted for it.

There’s only one problem with that. Athletics in South Africa is largely amateur.

The national federation does not offer professional contracts to athletes and the sport’s entire base rests on the platform of social road running.

So that’s two kicks to the head and I don’t think he really deserved either.

Like any election, ASA’s voting process includes campaigning which involves back-stabbing, bad-mouthing and “skinnering”.

So to see reports that suggest Skhosana has flopped in his role is no surprise, but allegations need to be backed up with evidence, and I don’t see much of that.

The man vying with Skhosana for his seat, James Moloi, is one of the most pleasant people in the sport and he no doubt has his strengths, but he has his weaknesses too.

Athletics man James Moloi

James Moloi will be going up against Aleck Skhosana for the job of ASA president. Picture: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images

And as someone who has followed Skhosana throughout his one-and-a-half terms, the contributions he has made far outweigh his failures.

I think Skhosana deserves another term to prove he can put the right people in place to secure bigger sponsorships and take the sport further than he already has.

Most importantly though, it’s a relief to see ASA holding elections which don’t involve douches or turds.

Having to choose between two reasonable options is a good problem to have.