Who can forget the incredible feeling of winning the Rugby World Cup in 1995 or the African Cup of Nations in 1996? The euphoria of hosting the Soccer World Cup in 2010 united every South African despite class, race, creed or background. As a country we epitomised unity in diversity. Sports has the ability to unite whether on the school field or in a national stadium.
The death recently of our own musician extraordinaire, Johnny Clegg, also touch the hearts of South African across the divide. Music, cultural expressions, dance and creative arts unite and create social cohesion but they also mitigate strife, unemployment, crime and violence.
StatsSA mid-year estimates in 2018 stated that 2.2 million young people between the ages of 15 and 34 are living in the Western Cape. It also estimated that our province is home to over 2 million children under the age of 18.
At the same time, the expanded unemployment rate in the province stood at 22.7% in the first quarter of 2019. The NEET (not-in-employment-education-or-training) rate nationally for youth between 15 and 34 years increased from 32%, in the first quarter of 2018, to 33 percent in the first quarter of this year. The figure for young people in the category 15 and 34 years stood at 40 percent.
This is a national crisis and a multi-pronged approach must be implemented. The effects of these statistics are the lived reality in the Western Cape. We are a leading province for children and women murders. Gang violence is high and we contributed the highest numbers of gang murders in the country. Drugs and substance abuse especially amongst youth is very high.
As a mitigating measure to address these pathologies, the ANC at its 54thconference noted that education, sport, recreation, arts, cultural and heritage activities, clubs and programmes are important vehicles to combat substance abuse, gangsterism, violence against women and children, and other social ills, as well as to achieve social cohesion and nation building, and should these should be localised.
This resolution is in line with the National Development Plan which views sport as having an important role in promoting wellness and social cohesion. It stated that sport and physical education are an integral part of a child’s development.
In this regard, the NDP proposed that schools should develop and maintain infrastructure for at least two sports. Moreover, the NPD proposes that every ward should have adequate facilities for basic exercise and sporting activities. The Western Cape is still very far from achieving the envisaged goals of the NDP, in as far as sport and recreation is concerned.
First and foremost the budget for the Sport and Recreation programme in the department is not sufficient and is one of the smallest, if not the smallest. To add insult to injury, the department still fails to spend this budget fully.
The 2017/2018 annual report shows that the number of affiliated provincial and/or district sport federations supported by the department dropped from 123 in 2016/2017 financial year to 120 in 2017/2018. The number of affiliated clubs supported by the department halved from 415 in 2014/2015 to only 230 in 2017/2018.
Other sporting challenges in the Western Cape include incidents like the eviction of South African Football Association and other tenants from the Athlone Stadium which is creating chaos for football in the province. This eviction negatively affected the registration of local soccer players. We are yet to hear MEC Anroux Marais commenting on these evictions.
Given all these challenges and while there was an announcement of adding the arts to the skills set to be focussed on, it was really disappointing that Premier never dedicated time in his SOPA to address the case for sport in the Western Cape.
A number of research projects have been undertaken. For example, since 2012 the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) in partnership with the Interdisciplinary Centre for Sport Science and Development at the University of the Western Cape worked on a multi-year research study titled: “the Case for Sport in the Western Cape”. The official hand over of the report was on 5 July 2019.
Some of the core findings of the Case for Sport were the poor rate of participation by women. The study noted that this needs an urgent attention. The study also stated that a major emphasis needs to be placed on efforts to encourage the youth, girls and female youth to be more active and to increase participation in the next period.
Sadly there is no adequate budget for this during this budget cycle. This case was emphasised by MEC Marais during the launch of the Case for Sport when she agreed that there exists a disconnect between the positive impact of sport and the budget often allocated to its programmes. Furthermore she said the outcomes of the study now physically motivates for increased support, not only sport and recreation but cultural affairs as well. She committed that during the budget adjustment period she will present the Provincial Treasury with the Case for Sport in a bid for greater financial backing.
The ANC will hold the MEC and the Department to account. We will go to the budget adjustment process with one view in mind and that is for funding to be made available in the province, especially to support grassroots organisations. We will insist transformation, especially in rugby and cricket.
In the Western Cape we celebrate international record holders like Luvo Mayonga, but we do not know where they get the skills from as there are no sporting facilities in the Cape Flats.
We will actively push for the implementation of the ANC resolution for a 5% sport ticketing levy to be introduced for all major and designated sport tournaments to fund sport development. We will also actively monitor the full implementation of the recommendations of the study.
What we gravely need in the Western Cape are mechanisms other than police and army to fight social ills such as substance abuse, gangsterism, crime and violence. Yet sports, the arts and culture not only help to mitigate these but they also unite us as a province, a people and a country. We desperately need this and it is sad that the Western Cape government does not see this as a priority.
Ayanda Bans in the ANC spokesperson for Cultural Affairs and Sports in the Western Cape Provincial Legislature.