Opening speech of the 17th General Assembly
of the Supreme Council of Sport in Africa, Johannesburg,
November 19, 1998
Mr Aziz Mohammed Derouaz, President - in - office,
of the Supreme Council of Sport in Africa
Ministers responsible for Sport in the Continent
Ladies and Gentleman
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to our shores
on the occasion of your 17th General Assembly.
We are especially pleased to be afforded this and other
opportunities to host important continental gatherings.
Thank you for making us welcome in the African Sports
I understand that the main reason for this General
Assembly is to evaluate preparations made to date on
our way to hosting the 17th All Africa Games, next September.
I would like to assure the Assembly that preparations
are not only on track but are also ahead of previous
arrangements with just a year to go.
It is common knowledge that we were reluctant to host
the games so early in the life of our new democracy.
Please rest assured that such reluctance was not motivated
by a desire not to give effect to our membership of
the Africa Sports Movement, but by a feeling that when
we do host, we want to do an excellent job of celebrating
our integration into mainstream continental affairs.
We are, however, not complaining and we will pull out
all stops in ensuring you a memorable time in our country
both organisationally and in the context of encouraging
a spirit of friendship among the youth and peoples of
A lot has been said in the media about perceived financial
problems that are threatening these Games. I wish to
state categorically that these problems exist in the
minds of people with quite active imaginations. Not
only has Cabinet given public support for the Games,
but the corporate sector is also determined to change
the notion that these games are designed to emulate
`Hurricane Mitch' in the misery and devastation they
cause to the host country after they have been held.
We also do not wish to see the games as a travelling
show in that the day after the closing ceremony, there
is no evidence that they had been held.
I would therefore like to reiterate our reassurance
to sponsors to see any pessimism about the games as
representing minority opinion in the country.
We see the hosting of such events as an important building
block in our reconstruction and development programme
by leaving a legacy in the form of infrastructure that
will have a life that continues long after the games
have been held.
These games need to be modest in scale and, in short,
need to be brought down to a level where they can be
within the reach, in terms of affordability, of the
majority of the countries in the continent rather than
being the prerogative of only a handful of affluent
This General Assembly has an important task in dismantling
popular stereotypes that tend to expect less than excellence
from Africans, particularly in the economical and organisational
In motivating for Cabinet support for the games, Minister
Steve Tshwete unequivocally declared his ambition to
achieve, through them, the necessary credentials to
establish South Africa not only as single sports hosts,
but a country whose future bids for the Olympic and
Commonwealth Games and the Soccer World Cup, should
be taken seriously.
May I, in conclusion, Mr. President, apologise for
President Mandela's inability to be here and extend
his good wishes to the delegates.
It is, finally, my singular honour and privilege, Mr.
President, to declare this 17th General Assembly open.
I thank you