Following the election of the new SASCOC board, Canoeing South Africa has expressed appreciation to the IOC and the national federations that supported their demand to hold elections at the earliest possible convenience.
Canoeing South Africa has been at the forefront of a battle against the remnants of the original SASCOC board that have done everything in their power to delay the elections and to ensure that the acting president, Barry Hendricks was discredited.
The SASCOC elections were originally supposed to take place in March, but were postponed due to the restrictions imposed around the Covid-19 pandemic.
The SASCOC board had been whittled down from its original compliment due to a number of resignations. It was divided and compromised, as many of the board members had been nominated for re-election. It was also non representative, as it comprised more co-opted members than elected ones.
A faction comprising five members of the board was proving to be obstructive by continually putting hurdles in the way of the holding of the elections.
Eventually the IOC stepped in and appointed a facilitator in the form of veteran sports activist Sam Ramsamy, and after seven months, the elections finally took place last Saturday.
Barry Hendricks was elected as the new president, with women taking up five of the eight board positions, Lwandile Simelane and Debbie Alexander voted in as the two vice presidents.
None of the five obstructive board members were voted back in, some of them failing to secure any votes at all during the elections.
President of Canoeing South Africa Kim Pople, Director of Maties Sport Ilhaam Groenewald and the President of the South African Sports Association for the Disabled Moekie Grobelaar have all been elected onto the new board.
As one of the smaller federations Canoeing South Africa assumed a co-ordinating role in forcing the change to the SASCOC board, a move that president Kim Pople says was necessary.
“It was essential that a federation drove the legitimate call for the elections and the motions that were tabled, but that would have been futile if it was not supported by a significant majority of other federations,” said Pople, who was influential in the calls for SASCOC board elections.
“It takes courage to confront structures that you honestly do not believe are fulfilling their mandate, and it has been heartening to see so many federations and strong individual leaders step up to the plate to support these motions and ultimately vote in a new SASCOC board.
“In essence we can now look forward to seeing SASCOC get back to prioritising getting our men and women to compete at the highest level and ultimately to the Olympic Games with the best chance of success,” she added.
Pople was delighted at the natural representation of women on the new SASCOC board, and said it was important to extend this into all the sub-committees and professional structures of SASCOC and all aspects of South African sport.
It is the first time in the history of the organisation that a black woman has been elected to one of the top three positions and it is the first time that two out of the top three are women.
“Our approach is about celebrating women, we believe that alongside empowering women with the necessary growth skills we need to put emphasis on their successes,” said Pople.
“We want to focus our attention showcasing the successes of women on and off the field, celebrating their contribution to sport and as role models in society.
“We want to celebrate women’s diversity, and recognise that they are not a homogeneous group, but that their diversity is itself an enrichment of our society,” she added.
“We are very grateful to Merrill King, a former Canoeing South Africa president, who has been a long-serving and very productive member of the SASCOC board, for all her tireless efforts,” added Pople.
President: Barry Hendricks
First Vice President: Lwandile Simelane
Second Vice President: Dr Debbie Alexander
A further five members will be co-opted onto the board.