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Statement by President of Athletics South Africa

James Evans

James Evans

Saturday, 16 March 2013 – Contrary to media reports that I was removed as President of Athletics South Africa at a meeting on 9 March 2013, that meeting did not make such a decision.

On more than one occasion this past week, in correspondence to myself and my attorneys, Mr Hendrick Ramaala, the deputy president of Athletics South Africa, and self-styled acting president, has acknowledged that all that was passed was a motion of impeachment. A simple reading of any dictionary will indicate that all that the word “impeachment” means is that the person is accused or charged. Why that was not understood by most journalists who reported on the meeting, is not clear.

In terms of the Athletics South Africa Constitution, an impeachment has to now be dealt with in terms of clause 17, which deals with removal of a Board or Commission member. That must still happen.

On Thursday, Mr Ramaala acknowledged this when he indicated, in separate correspondence to me and to my attorneys, that I am still the President, but suspended. However, despite requests for the Board resolution suspending, none has been received. And that is because none exists. In terms of the Athletics South Africa Constitution, only the Board has the power to suspend a person pending a hearing before the disciplinary committee. However, because Mr Ramaala has purported to act in terms of clause 19 of the Constitution, the matter cannot be dealt with by a disciplinary committee and has to be handled by a Special General Meeting in terms of clause 17.

While this may seem like undue technicality, Mr Ramaala has purported to act in terms of the Athletics South Africa Constitution and he is therefore bound by it.

As regards the meeting held on 9 March, the constitutionality of it was questioned by several people, including a number of provinces, before the meeting. Because Mr Ramaala refused to accept the arguments made against its constitutionality, I requested that it be referred to arbitration before the meeting. Mr Ramaala did not advise the meeting about this request and the meeting proceeded. On Tuesday, Mr Ramaala agreed in writing to my attorneys that the question of constitutionality of the meeting has to be referred to arbitration. However, to date, although he has been acting in the capacity as acting president, he has not made any attempt to refer the matter to the Arbitration Foundation of South Africa.

As regards the meeting on 9 March 2013, I need to add that a plane ticket from Cape Town (where I live) to Johannesburg (where the meeting was held) was cancelled by the airline due to non-payment by Athletics South Africa. No-one from Athletics South Africa advised me that the ticket would not be paid for. I was thus denied the opportunity to attend the meeting. It is noteworthy that no-one called me that morning to ask me where I was.

Since Mr Ramaala has failed to show that I have been validly suspended and because he has acknowledged in writing that I am still the President of Athletics South Africa, I shall be resuming all my duties from Monday and will ensure that the matter is referred for arbitration as soon as possible.

I need to add further that I have, for the past few weeks, been advising the Board of Athletics South Africa that there are serious issues in the finance department which have been reported to me. The indications, backed by documentary evidence, are that there has been theft and fraud. The Board has failed to act on those allegations, but has rather acted on information from the finance department in making allegations against me. Due to the failure by the Board to act, I will be ensuring that a complaint is laid with the South African Police on Monday morning. Corruption cannot be covered up any longer.

Disciplinary complaints which have been laid, including against a board member, but which have not been acted on by the Board, will also be referred to the disciplinary committee for action.

Unfortunately, this matter has disrupted the operations of the organisation. This has resulted in a team not being entered for the African Youth Championships. Also payment of outstanding prize money from the Soweto Marathon has not been paid despite there being funds in that account to pay them.

It is also unfortunate that it was reported in the media that there was a large majority who passed the motion of impeachment, with no comment on the fact that there were only 27 members present, with the quorum being 26. Six of the 17 provincial members were not present, having indicated in writing that they would not attend, two attended and contested the constitutionality of the meeting and two voted against the mandate which had been given by their provinces in writing before the meeting. In all 10 provincial members had called for the meeting to not proceed and a commission of enquiry into the Board, the finances and the structure of Athletics South Africa. I have supported that call. That proposal was ignored, but many of the provincial members have renewed, in writing, their call for a fresh meeting, to reconsider the matter and call for a commission of enquiry. In the end, it is the will of the provinces, having received proper mandates from their members, which must prevail.

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