ANC Youth League, Markgraaff to bury hatchet

The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) leadership and former Springbok coach Andre Markgraaff hope to find “common ground” when they hold talks on transformation in rugby on Thursday.

The ANCYL earlier expressed dismay and anger at news that Markgraaff—who was secretly taped calling black administrators “kaffirs” in 1997—has made himself available for the position of SA Rugby deputy president.

Three candidates—current SA Rugby vice-president Mike Stofile, Blue Bulls Rugby Union president Dolf van Huyssteen and Markgraaff—have been shortlisted for the position.

ANCYL spokesperson Lawrence Venkile said on Wednesday the meeting—to be held at Albert Luthuli House in Johannesburg on Thursday morning—has been called to understand Markgraaff’s position on transformation in rugby.

“We want to listen to Andre Markgraaff’s side of the story. We don’t want to be seen as people who stand on the side and scream bloody murder.
We want to engage with him and understand his position around transformation in rugby,” said Venkile.

The ANCYL believes Markgraaff’s experience is required in the sport.

“Markgraaff has been in rugby forever, so we hope for reconciliation. Here is an opportunity for us to build a South Africa we all subscribe to. We have to be able to let bygones be bygones,” he said.

He said the ANCYL is determined to become a “force that engaged with those it disagreed with” and not one that just fights through the media.

Venkile said if Markgraaff indicates that he is committed to transformation, the ANCYL will support his nomination.

“We will not withdraw statements we made in the past, nor will we campaign in support of certain people. If we are able to find common ground, we will allow due process to take its course. If in the end Sarfu [the South African Rugby Football Union] believes he is the best person for the job, we will support that provided he commits to transformation. This commitment must transform into action,” he said.

When contacted for comment, Markgraaff said he believes the meeting itself is a sign of reconciliation.

“They asked for the meeting. There was no problem as far as I am concerned but I see the meeting as sign of reconciliation and I appreciate the gesture,” he said.

Elections to fill the deputy president’s position, vacated earlier this year by Keith Parkinson, will take place at the SA Rugby annual general meeting in Cape Town on Friday.—Sapa

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