South Africans should focus their attention on the Springboks and not on issues like transformation in rugby, Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula said in New Zealand on Wednesday.
“People who want to discuss transformation in rugby, this is not the time for discussions,” said Mbalula.
“And as for the share of the commercial revenue derived from rugby merchandise, they must not wait for the World Cup to raise their selfish interests and or drive their agendas.
“We have created platforms and forums for us to engage in these debates like the forthcoming sport and recreation indaba.”
Mbalula was speaking at the official opening of the Ekhaya Hospitality Centre at the Amora Hotel, near the Wellington Waterfront.
The centre will be used as a base camp for Springbok fans during the Rugby World Cup.
Polarising the nation
Mbalula said the entire South African nation should support their team unconditionally and that bringing up issues like transformation would have an effect on the nation-building qualities rugby has in the country.
“This is not a space of debate. It is an arena of battle to conquer the world. We can’t polarise the nation when we are supposed to be united around one cause and that is why I’m confident that the people of our country will ignore such people.”
It is the first time that the ministry of sport and recreation set up an ekhaya (home) with only one sporting code in mind.
Previous ekhaya’s were set up for multiple sporting events like the Olympic Games. Mbalula said that it will not only provide South Africans with a place to share their experiences of New Zealand, but also to network.
“If we lose, this is where we will share our tears and sorrow and if we win, this is where we will open the champagne,” he said.
“This is our home away from home and where we re-energise — our base camp.
“There’s biltong, boerewors, potjiekos and pap here.” — Sapa
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