Mzansi superfans want meeting with new sports minister Gayton McKenzie

Super fan and president of the South African National Association of Supporters Saddam Maake says they want a meeting with Sports Minister Gayton McKenzie.

Super fan and president of the South African National Association of Supporters Saddam Maake says they want a meeting with Sports Minister Gayton McKenzie.

Published Jul 10, 2024


The president of the South African National Association Supporters Union, Saddam Maake, has requested a meeting with the newly appointed Sports, Arts and Culture minister Gayton McKenzie after he vowed to de-fund their trips abroad.

The meeting request follows his announcement that there will be no more taxpayer-funded overseas trips for superfans, which include the likes of himself, Mama Joy Chauke and Botha Msila, personalities with nationwide appeal.

The superfans became household names by supporting teams such as Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Bloemfontein Celtic at all their games since the establishment of the PSL in the 90s. They also made a big effort to be seen, with unique costumes, face paintings and their knack to display fierce and joyful emotions - win, lose or draw.

As TV cameras captured their visuals at the games, they later became household names, as supporters, as they also started showing support for sports previously considered white sports, such as rugby and cricket.

The superfans also wear South African colours as they attending Proteas - whether cricket or netball and Springbok matches. They routinely became seen at inbound cricket and rugby tours, on the banks and in the stands, of venues associated with the white elite - your Newlands, Wanderers, Kingsmead, etc.

They became a vehicle for social cohesion and last year, World Rugby cameras scouted them in the crowds in Paris as the Boks won the 2023 rugby world cup.

Maake, who is one of South Africa's most celebrated sports fans, having made his name as Kaizer Chiefs’ Number 1 fan in the 1990s, said he was not taking the announcement that was made by the minister seriously.

"As things stand, the minister has not officially informed us of his decision, we have just seen it on Twitter.

“The minister must send us a letter to our organisation and inform us and not social media," said Maake.

The announcement comes just weeks before the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, where the superfans would have been typically expected to travel with Team South Africa to France. It is unclear if they will still travel with the team.

The passionate Kaizer Chiefs supporter also said that superfans wanted to have meeting with the newly appointed minister adding that since the announcement was made there has been confusion among their ranks.

"Since the minister took office I have not met with him and we as supporters would like to have a meeting with him to discuss the way forward because there has been lots of confusion, I have worked with a lot of sports ministers in the past.

"I worked with (Fikile) Mbalula, (Nathi) Mthethwa, Ngconde Balfour and they all communicated with us as supporters so we need to better communication with the minister,“ Maake added.

Esethu Hasane, a former media officer in the Sports, Arts and Culture Department, urged McKenzie to reconsider his decision.

Hasane came to the defence of superfans saying that they supported the national teams despite not receiving any funding from the government.

He said the superfans were ordinary people who found a way to make a living through their dedicated support of their clubs and the respective national team. Hasane, who is a media officer in the Department of Transport, said the superfans played an important role in building social cohesion and racial unity.

"Given that they do not get paid or have a consistent salary for the important work they do, I do not think it’s unreasonable for the department to occasionally support them in traveling abroad to support our national teams, who often have to play without any visible support on the crowd that’s South African, unless it’s rugby or cricket which attracts resourced people," said Hasane.

On Tuesday, McKenzie said he had taken a decision to stop funding all trips for superfans.

“I have stopped all trips for super fans, we have athletes and artist who are struggling to raise money to attend sporting events and exhibitions, how do we justify paying for fans?

“We shall no longer be paying for these trips and will use that money where it’s needed the most,” said the minister.

On Wednesday, McKenzie published a list with 9,000 arts, sports and creative sector beneficiaries who were paid amounts ranging from R10,000 to R20,000 during the Covid-19 lockdown.

He said this was not a shame list, but he was releasing the names for the sake of transparency after some artists claimed they got no support from the department.

IOL Sport



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