PODCAST | ‘No regrets’ on decisions such as Springbok emblem: Sports minister Kodwa

14 March 2023 - 13:44 By Sports staff
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New sports, arts and culture minister Zizi Kodwa.
New sports, arts and culture minister Zizi Kodwa.
Image: Masi Losi

New sports minister Zizi Kodwa says he has “no regrets” on decisions taken by the democratic government in the 1990s on issues such as rugby retaining the Springbok emblem.

Kodwa was appointed sports, arts and culture minister, replacing Nathi Mthethwa, in President Cyril Ramaphosa's cabinet reshuffle last week.

As a national executive committee member and national spokesperson for the ANC Youth League in the 1990s, Kodwa would have been opposed to the decision at that time for rugby to keep the Springbok.

He was asked in an interview with Marawa Sports Worldwide if he had regrets about such decisions.

“No, we have no regrets. In the youth league at that time we were guided by the most outstanding statesmen on why we did such things.

“But those of us who agreed to those issues politically, I think the mileage might have been undermined by others on the other side.

“We mustn't regret the decisions we took and we must march on and say we are prepared to achieve that which we believe is correct for the nation.

“Ours is to build a nation. Others might not have an intention to build a nation. But we must always make sure that as we do that [build] we do not compromise on principles.

“One of those principles is one of a nonracial, democratic, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa.”

Kodwa said he has hit the ground running on the consultative process required to establish the areas in his portfolio that need addressing.

“It is almost my second day. I have already hit the ground running like a cheetah and a leopard,” Kodwa said at the end of last week.

“I have made contact with the big five [sports].  I'm meeting them early next week.

“I'm meeting the South Africa Olympic Committee first. I'm meeting a number of affiliations, associations and stakeholders.

“I've already been in contact with them telephonically, including those in arts and culture, to say let's work together because it's not going to be the minister alone.”

Kodwa said he understands the role sport plays in lifting the mood when South Africa faces difficulties. He acknowledged the struggles many major sports have faced, often stemming from poor administration, adds to a low mood rather than lifting it.

“It comes at a time when the mood in the country is quite depressed.

“We are surrounded by many maladies and challenges. Sports, arts and culture have always lifted the country's spirit at difficult moments.

“We hope this appointment, not only myself, but working with all stakeholders across the sectors, will be able to lift the spirit in the country.

“ I'm talking about outside load-shedding and so on. Even the [sports] industry has t a lot of issues that need to be dealt with.”

Having been promoted to sports minister from deputy minister of state security, Kodwa's sports credentials have been questioned.

He said he has been a “sports enthusiast since my early years” and “I have participated in a different capacity many times on issues of sports development”.

“You will recall that when we were young [activists] and talking about issues of transformation in rugby, issues of quotas, we were in the forefront of that.

“It was later we realised that in fact the intervention of quotas was abused to the minimum and we withdrew that. I'm just making an example of that, speaking of rugby.

“If you ask if I have any background in sport, the answer is yes. Do I come with come baggage? Look there are politics of sport but there is also the economy of sport.

“ I think the economy is something we have not yet really exploited as a country.”

In a wide-ranging interview Kodwa discussed reviving neglected sports grounds and facilities and tapping into rural talent. He was asked about the disappointment at his predecessor's alleged failures to support artists and sports people during the Covid-19 pandemic, and committed to investigating where funding might have gone missing.

He discussed parity in pay for sports women, his stance on the continuation of transformation in sport, racism in sport, corruption in school sports and former players being roped into sports administration.

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