Sascoc to continue funding athletes despite money problems

17 February 2019 - 00:02 By DAVID ISAACSON

The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) is being put through the wringer, but the organisation insists its funding programme for athletes will continue full steam.
Athletes looking to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics are entering a critical phase of preparation as many seek to secure qualification this year.
There have been whispers of cuts to Sascoc's Operation Excellence funding programme for athletes, which would dent the nation's hopes of trying to improve on the record-equalling 10 Olympic medals from Rio 2016.
But board member Kobus Marais, chairman of Sascoc's finance committee, moved to allay concerns, saying the OpEx budget remained unaffected at R1m a month.
"The athlete is the most important thing. We'll make cuts elsewhere if we have to," he said, adding they had already imposed austerity measures in other areas of operation.
He said they had introduced a second layer of athletes who weren't yet ranked high enough to make OpEx, but they had the potential of becoming medal contenders with financial support.
Sascoc was also considering a third tier for younger athletes with promise for the 2024 Olympics and beyond.
"We'll always make sure we'll have money for OpEx," said Marais.
His comments come as Sascoc faces increasing pressure on various fronts, including massive funding cuts from the National Lotteries Commission.
Fingers have also been pointed at the man contracted by Sascoc to land sponsorships because he himself is embroiled in a sports-related battle over money.
Qondisa Ngwenya, at the helm of marketing company Republicom, which used to be known as Octagon, applied to have Athletics SA (ASA) liquidated in court, claiming they owed him nearly R8m.
But he lost the case and was ordered to pay costs, which totalled just more than R500,000.
ASA's lawyer said they had yet to receive a cent of that, but Ngwenya countered that they wanted to take the judgment on review.
"It's not me personally," he told the Sunday Times. "It's Republicom.
"We felt that the matter should be taken on review. We didn't think the judge applied his mind correctly."
The judge ruled that Octagon had failed to prove it was a creditor of ASA, noting that a marketing agreement had not been concluded because the federation at the time was contractually bound to another marketing company, Sports 4U.
The judge also ruled that ASA had shown that it was not "commercially insolvent", having in excess of R7m in the bank to settle proven and disputed debts.
ASA came close to liquidation a few years ago as it battled to pay more than R10m, as ordered by a court, to an injured pole vaulter.
Part of Ngwenya's job is rebranding a restructured Sascoc to repair its reputation in the wake of the findings of the ministerial committee into its corporate governance.
Sascoc is also at loggerheads with sport minister Tokozile Xasa over the implementation of some of the recommendations made by the committee.
The Sascoc board and Xasa are to meet on Wednesday to try to iron out issues...

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