Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
2 Nov 2013
12:00 pm

ASA mud-slinging battle set to continue

Wesley Botton

After failing repeatedly to oust embattled president James Evans, it's baffling that the disgruntled Athletics South Africa board members and provinces did not capitalise on an inquiry into the federation.

Wesley Botton.

Evans escaped impeachment in March this year after being accused of making payments without board approval, before embarking on a costly legal battle against six of the 11 ASA board members.

He denied a recent call for a special general meeting, avoiding a proposed vote of no confidence in him from more than half the provincial members, and has not held a board meeting in nine months.

And while he continues to cling to his chair, his accusers had a chance to elaborate on their plight by complying with the first investigation into ASA since former president Leonard Chuene was sacked.

They chose not to respond, however, when Judge Joos Hefer requested proof of payments that Evans had allegedly made, or instructed ASA staff to make, including dates and amounts.

Hefer said in his report, released this week, that certain ASA members had refused to comply, and without the power to compel witnesses to testify, his investigation became “futile”.

Pieter Lourens, one of six board members who are attempting to remove Evans, says the special general meeting held in Pretoria in June, where the decision was made to hold the inquiry, did not have a quorum. He also says Hefer’s appointment was approved without the majority of the board’s consent.

Evans admits the power given to the judge was limited, due to extensive costs of a full-blown investigation, but insists any substantial evidence would have resulted in hearings.

It’s ironic that the only detailed allegation made in Hefer’s inquiry was against Lourens.

He was accused by Magda Botha of making unilateral decisions as chairman of the ASA track and field commission, and Hefer recommended that Lourens be removed from office and not be appointed in future as chair of any ASA committee.

As part of a “futile” inquiry, though, and with Lourens opting not to respond to the allegations, the recommendation will not carry any weight.

For similar reasons, Evans may not have been found guilty of anything, but he was not cleared of any charges either because the allegations were too vague and his accusers shied away when offered a chance to provide evidence against him.

Evans and vice-president Hendrick Ramaala believe the long-running boardroom tussle is nearing an end.

But when a clear-cut opportunity to put allegations to bed is ignored by the very people who make them, it seems evident that the mud-slinging battle is far from over.