Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
21 Sep 2013
11:00 am

Mjo should not pop the champagne just yet

Wesley Botton

When the judgment was handed down in favour of Laraine Lane on Thursday, after her battle with Sascoc landed up in court, suspended Powerboat South Africa (PSA) general secretary Khaya Mjo could not conceal his pleasure as he cheered and raised his arms in support of the decision.

And while it might have seemed the multitude of people locked in a long-running fight with Sascoc took a big step forward, it was really nothing more than a slippery shuffle at the tip of an iceberg.

Lane’s case is bizarre because she claims she was banned from any affiliation to athletics, though it seems she never was, and while clearing her name in the Caster Semenya debacle might have been worth the legal battle, her victory has hardly given an indication that Sascoc did much wrong.

The Olympic body has taken plenty of flak from certain sectors of the public and the media, while a handful of sports federations have accused the organisation’s administrators of bullying and interfering with elections.

Though it’s certainly worth questioning Sascoc’s approach in dealing with national federations, and pointing out apparent conflicts of interest with some of its board members, making allegations and proving them right are two entirely different things.

A lot of the arguments against Sascoc’s administrators seem valid, but their responses make equal sense. Is it corrupt, for example, to claim remuneration, in line with International Olympic Committee processes, when volunteers fork out money from their own pockets?

Is it corrupt for the CEO of any company to fly first class on his numerous travels, and for that same senior staffer to earn more than R80 000 a month?

There’s a difference between revealing corruption and taking pot shots at people because certain individuals have political agendas, and that’s why the Public Protector’s ongoing investigation into allegations of maladministration, conflict of interest and irregular procurement processes is so crucial.

I’m not saying Sascoc is right, or that it’s squeaky clean, but hopefully all these issues and allegations will finally be put to bed.

Whether they’re found guilty or innocent, Sascoc’s administrators will now have to answer to a multitude of allegations – a crucial step in ensuring the continued progress of sport in this country – in order to switch the focus from board rooms to sports fields.

Mjo should be applauded for taking action by approaching the Public Protector, not because he’s necessarily right, but because these allegations are distracting many people’s attention from the athletes and sports on which they should be focused.

And as much as Sascoc’s staff and administrators could be proved to be corrupt, Mjo should hold his celebrations and victory cheers until Thuli Madonsela reveals her findings.