More South African yacht clubs face eviction from state-owned port facilities unless they address ongoing concerns around transformation, SA Sailing president Philip Baum said in his latest president’s report published this month.
Baum said the recent eviction of two clubs by the National Ports Authority, Transnet, should serve as a warning to other clubs to accelerate transformation, both in terms of member profile and organisational structure. He said clubs needed an honest appraisal of current transformation programmes, which needed to beyond development training.
Watersports clubs have battled to overcome the Apartheid legacy of racial segregation, partly due to difficulty in attracting new members in the context of stagnant economic growth. Meanwhile, Transnet is under increasing pressure both to maximise commercial return from its port operations and to promote transformation within its jurisdiction.
Baum said the loss of tenure of two clubs, while “dreadful for the sport”, was not completely unexpected. “It is fair to say that where wholesale change is required at best only some of the necessary changes have been made,” he said in his letter. “To be honest Transnet has been clear as to its requirements, both commercial and transformative. This has been foreseen for a number of years. Sailors have been tinkering at the edges and we are paying the price. One can take a horse to water but cannot make him drink.”
He said SA Sailing was preparing representations to Transnet in the wake of the eviction of the Algoa Bay Yacht Club (Port Elizabeth harbour) and Mossel Bay Yacht Club (Mossel Bay). Both evictions followed protracted legal battles. “We are attempting to access the organisation at the highest level. But the plans to be submitted will need to be bold. And club members will need to be committed,” Baum said.
“Yachting is not unique in this. Other sports are being put through the same hurdles.”
“Without honest scrutiny it will not be possible to re-establish the clubs which have lost their tenure. And protect those whose leases are up for renewal,” he said.