Parliament of South Africa

12/07/2023 | News release | Distributed by Public on 12/07/2023 04:57

Committee Begins Processing Drug-Free Sports Amendment Bill to Comply With World Doping Agency Requirements

The Portfolio Committee on Sports, Arts and Culture has resolved to follow all the applicable processes, including a thorough public participation process, when it drafts amendments to the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport Act to comply with the new anti-doping code put in place by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The amendment Bill was introduced and tabled before the committee in November, following concerns raised by WADA during South Africa's participation in the Rugby World Cup, which took place in France in October. The Springboks faced the prospect of playing in the tournament under a neutral flag due to South Africa's non-compliance with the code.

The Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Mr Zizi Kodwa, led the department to brief the committee on the Bill and thanked the committee for its sense of urgency in dealing with the matter. "There had been a number of difficulties, but we appreciate that the committee appreciated the urgency of this matter," said Mr Kodwa.

The department's Deputy Director-General, Ms Sumaya Khan, then explained that on 31 October 2022 WADA provided the department with a list of points of non-compliance and a corrective action report. However, the department considered the deadline for compliance to be "unreasonable". "They were giving us unrealistic deadlines," Ms Khan said. "The Minister had outlined to WADA that it was unfair for a non-governmental organisation to give unrealistic deadlines to governments. But the department attended to all the issues that were identified."

In answer to questions on timeframes from committee members, Parliament's legal advisor, Adv Aadielah Arnold, said she did not think it was possible to promulgate the Bill by 24 January 2024. "We have been found wanting with regards to the public participation. The Constitutional Court had indicated that public participation should give the public reasonable opportunity to meaningfully engage with legislation. Public participation is constitutionally mandated in the process of legislation-making. We need to engage the public, advertise and solicit input from the public," she said.

She took the committee through all the steps to be followed when processing the Bill, including committee deliberations, public participation, and debate and acceptance in both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces before it is passed to the President for signing into law.

Meanwhile, WADA has filed for arbitration on the matter with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The arbitration process will kick in if mediation fails and is expected to be finalised in March 2024.

Committee member Mr Eugene Mthethwa urged the committee not to politicise issues around the Bill. "We need to move speedily as there is an international sporting body that is breathing in our necks," said Mr Mthethwa.

The Chairperson of the committee, Ms Beauty Dlulane, proposed that there be further engagements between the Minister and WADA.

The committee resolved to deal with the Bill through its normal processes and an advert calling for comments on the Bill will go out in December. Mr Kodwa is expected to have further deliberations with WADA regarding the timeframes and the time needed for the Bill to pass.

Sibongile Maputi

7 December 2023