Date: 25 May 2019 By: Anton van Zyl
The plans of the Makhado Municipality to cancel the lease agreements of just about all the established sport clubs in town, may end up in lengthy fights. At this stage none of the clubs want to officially comment, as they argue they only heard about the plans via the press and no consultation whatsoever had taken place.
During the March meeting of the Makhado Council a resolution was taken to try and terminate the 99-year lease agreements of eleven of the town’s amateur sport clubs. Prior to the meeting a legal opinion regarding this was obtained. The matter was referred to the relevant sub-committee to furnish the Council with valid reasons as to why the contracts should be terminated.
The Council’s spokesperson, Mr Louis Bobodi, was asked for more clarity, to which he responded: “(The) … move is aimed at achieving redress of past unjust agreements entered into with one main objective of excluding black people from participating in sporting facilities with white people. The motion is in the best interest of the public.”
Bobodi said that the agreements were entered into during the period of 1993 and 1994, just at the dawn of the new constitutional dispensation. “The properties in question are government owned and the public must enjoy them without any prejudice emanating from race, gender or belief,” said Bobodi.
Representatives of all the clubs that Zoutpansberger spoke to were visibly annoyed when asked about the allegations of racism. Some described it as ignorance that is also highly offensive. The clubs all have open membership and several of the clubs have been running development programmes for decades.
It seems as if the municipality clearly did not do their homework and lack understanding of how club membership works. “A club is not like a business or a property that you buy which then belongs to a certain person or group. The club belongs to the residents of the town,” one representative said. According to him this differs from year to year, as new people move into town and become active on club committees.
Even the periods when the contracts were entered into, were disputed. Some of the clubs listed have contracts that were concluded after 1994 with the then Greater Louis Trichardt municipality.
Council’s intention to try and alienate sport grounds met with a fair amount of scepticism. One popular theory is that a few officials and councillors have their own ulterior motives and the intention may be to sell off sports fields to developers. “This is just sad, seeing that the region has so few proper sport facilities. Instead of expanding on this and provide more facilities to residents, Council turn on the few existing ones,” one representative said.
Anton van Zyl has been with the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror since 1990. He graduated at the the Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) and obtained a BA Communications degree. He is a founder member of the Association of Independent Publishers.