Appearing before the panel on the last day of the month-long Zulman Inquiry, SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Gideon Sam had the committee members reeling again on Wednesday, in response to the organisation’s apparently frivolous spending sprees.
During a heated submission, in which sharp words were exchanged between Sam and all three committee members, the Sascoc boss was asked whether he thought the annual cost of R2.2 million spent on daily allowances and per diems for Sascoc board members while travelling was excessive.
He was also asked whether his own daily travel allowance of R6 000 (on top of a R21 000 monthly stipend, as well as flight and accommodation costs) was unnecessarily steep for a voluntary member of a non-profit body.
In response, Sam said: “If I look at the dollar/rand value, it’s small money”.
In his defence, he said per diems had to be used to cover costs of transport between hotels and venues, as well as meals.
Sam brushed aside various allegations made against him during the inquiry led by retired judge Ralph Zulman, which was investigating governance issues in the Olympic body.
It was put forward by the committee that Sam had made unilateral decisions in dealing with government, without consulting his board, though he claimed this was standard Sascoc process.
When committee member Shamima Gaibie told him “there is a fundamental problem in how the organisation is run”, Sam responded: “I disagree”.
He was also told by committee member Ali Bacher that there was a conflict of interest in his previous role as a director of Accelerate Sport, as the company had provided services for Sascoc members, though Sam again disagreed as the company had not dealt directly with the umbrella body.
He also denied allegations that there was a conflict of interest with numerous Sascoc board members sitting on the Lotto distribution agency for sport, which allocated funds to Sascoc and its members, as he recused himself when certain applications were discussed.
Sam claimed Sascoc’s time and resources were largely being wasted on legal disputes raised by national federations, and he believed Sascoc should be split into two separate bodies – one to serve as the national Olympic committee and the other to govern national federations.
“The problem is the with structure of South African sport,” Sam said, ” not with Sascoc.”