SA wants Commonwealth Games value for money

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That was the reason the country had yet to pay the first tranche of R26 million to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), or sign the host city contract, Esethu Hasane, spokesman for the Department of Sport and Recreation, said on Tuesday.

He was responding to a CGF statement giving South Africa a seven-week ultimatum to make the payments and sign the contract or risk losing the games to another country.

“The delays are simply because there are still negotiations taking place. We want value for money for hosting the games,” he said.

The CGF threats were made after a general congress in Canada last week.

In a statement, Louise Martin, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, said South Africa had until the end of November to make good on its commitments.

“As a first priority, the CGF membership resolved to continue to work with the South African government and their partners to support and advise them on their first steps and initial obligations on the journey towards 2022.

“It is with humble appreciation that a number of members, at our annual general assembly in Edmonton (on) 7 October 2016, reaffirmed our positive commitment to realise our collective ambitions to host a Games in Durban, and in Africa for the first time ever.

“We all truly believe in the inspirational and impactful potential of a Games in Africa. However, we also appreciate that there are concerns about the current progress to plan. We are still six years out, so now is the time to reinforce our commitments in partnership with Durban - as we sincerely hope - or look at alternatives,” the statement said.

The CGF warned that as a last resort, they would have to “secure an alternate host, if outstanding matters are not resolved by 30th November 2016”.

Hasane said, however, that the government was committed to hosting the games in Durban and that three weeks ago, the cabinet gave Treasury the nod to sign the financial commitments with the CGF.

“What is happening now is that government, having previous experience of hosting international tournaments like Fifa 2010, do not want to end up in a situation again where the CGF, or in the case previously, Fifa, leave the country with the government having very little to show off.

“From the government side we are still sure we are going to host the games because of the commitments we signed. We are doing the negotiations with the CGF and we are not going to sign anything until all our requirements are satisfied,” he said.

While not wanting to divulge the exact aspects of the negotiations with the CGF, Hasane said previous lessons learnt included broadcasting rights and payments of facilities used during the event.

“When the South African government woke up (during Fifa 2010) we were footing most of the bill. When there were returns, the government did not get its fair share. The South African government want to negotiate all issues pertaining to hosting (the Commonwealth Games) including payments of facilities and hosting of the actual event and how the returns are shared,” he said.

Hasane said they also wanted to ensure that the hosting of the Games was aligned to Durban’s developmental plans.

“For example, the city is planning a Bus Rapid Transport system and looking at housing. Such things would have happened without the Games coming and so we have minimised costs. The athletes’ village as another example is part of the city’s housing programme,” he said.

DA spokesman on sport and recreation in KwaZulu-Natal, Hlanganani Gumbi, said the provincial government also needed to “come clean” on costs and the benefits hosting the Games would have for people of the province.

“KZN has also spent time and money on bidding for the Games. But they cannot be held at the expense of the many communities in this province that have no access whatsoever to any form of sporting or recreational facilities. This has to remain the department’s primary mandate.

“There has already been too much confusion over KZN’s financial commitment to the Games. The DA expects answers from KZN’s Sports and Recreation MEC, Bongi Sithole-Moloiâ?¦ In short, the MEC must tell us exactly what is going on,” he said.

Thabo Mofokeng, spokesman for the provincial sports department, did not respond to questions sent to him by the Daily News.

Daily News

Original source: SA wants Commonwealth Games value for money

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