Brief summary of the history and current situation regarding the SAEF

[dropcap style=”font-size: 70px; color: #052b51; font-family: ‘Droid Serif’, Arial, sans-serif;”] W [/dropcap] hat exactly is going on at SAEF? Well, it is a question we’d all like answered. Unfortunately it seems a lot of untruths and false stories are currently being spread. Grant Ketteringham has written a brief summary that tries to give the “lay man” an understanding of the political structures in our sport. We’ve copied and pasted below:

Brief summary of the history and  current situation regarding the SAEF

  1. 1.       Reasons for the arguments between the DA’s ( disciplines ) and the SAEF:

SASCOC is responsible to the Dept of sport for the administration or all organised sport in South Africa. It is a misconception that SASCOC only has authority over Olympic sports. In order to administer and deal with the various sporting codes they have  formed National Federations who are in effect the main committees representing each sport. Some of these Federations have literally tens of thousands members ( Soccer) whilst other only have a few members ( Sheep shearing,korfball,etc).  SASCOC has prescribed exactly how each sport must be organised –very simply—a member joins a club—a club belongs to a region—a region belongs to a Province and the Province belongs to the National Federation.


SASCOC has grouped all 14 equestrian codes into a single Federation (SAEF) and this single fact is almost entirely responsible for all the arguments. Contrary to what many members believe the arguments have nothing to do with the SASCOC model itself.

When a single discipline federation is formed it works perfectly. So for e.g. someone who wants to play soccer- he joins a soccer club-the soccer club consists of and is run by soccer players—- the club then joins all the other soccer clubs in the area and form a regional soccer committee-once again run by soccer players—the regions form a Provincial Federation ( again soccer players )  and the Province joins the National soccer federation ( again soccer players).  So all the way from the bottom structure to the overall controlling committee at the top consist of soccer players.

When a multi discipline federation is formed it has never worked. Equestrian is no different. By the time a regional committee is formed the disciplines are no longer represented. This is further diluted as you move further up the structure. To put this into perspective let’s take KZN as a Province and Showjumping as a discipline.  We have 7 active KZN regions registered with the SAEF structure. When KZN has to vote on something  how should KZN vote ? Well the answer under the SAEF structure is “ ask Polocrosee “ . The truth is that Polocrosse have clubs in regions where there are no other equestrian sports so they effectively form 4 of KZN’s regions. Polocrose , a small discipline, can dictate exactly what direction KZN takes, it can vote in whoever it likes as the KZN committee and can appoint the President and tell him/her how to vote . Now when we look at the National SAEF committee—I am the only showjumper currently on the SAEF committee–if I resign or am kicked out-Polocrosse can decide who they would like to replace me with. This implies that Showjumping , the biggest discipline by far, will have no one on the committee that even understands what showjumping is all about.

If you think about it Rugby and Soccer actually have more in common than say Polo and Vaulting or Tent pegging and Carriage driving. This is what all the arguments  are about !!!!


  1. 2.       How have these problems been tackled by the SAEF.
    1. In the beginning the SAEF had a vision of running all 14 disciplines from a centralized office up in Jhb. The vision was to try and reduce costs by combining all the admin and coming up with a single fee to join the SAEF  which would entitle a member to partake in whatever equestrian sport they wished. The idea was that all the disciplines would close down, transfer their money and assets to the SAEF ,all the discipline staff would be taken over by the SAEF— and the SAEF would take over the running of all disciplines. In theory this may even sound like quite a good idea but could you ever imagine Polo giving up its lease of Shongweni and showjumping handing over a few hundred thousand rand of timing equipment to the SAEF.  In return Polo and SJ would have to be jointly and severally liable for the running of the Polocrosse World Championships which requires approx R 2 000 000.00 in funding?—this before you even start looking at the various disciplines constitutions which would prohibit them doing any of this.? Then we started calculating the “single fee “ and it came  out at a lot more than what people currently pay. Remember we can’t just look at SJ, dressage and equitation—we need to look at Polo as well as Saddle seat. Some disciplines only charge R 100 to become members while others charge over R 1000.00—  Even if we charged R 300.00 do you think the Saddle seat rider who only paid R 100.00 would be happy?  This idea was eventually scrapped
    2. The next idea was that the Disciplines stayed as technical committees, ran their sport but transferred all their money to the SAEF  who in turn would open separate bank accounts for each discipline and guaranteed that the money would be kept securely for each discipline. It was agreed that whatever money or assets they had at the time could be kept by the disciplines. The disciplines would get a set amount allocated to them by the SAEF out of membership fee collected by the SAEF — any shortfall that they needed to operate their discipline had to be collected by charging a levy per round/show. As this was going to increase the cost of joining certain of the sporting codes some of the disciplines were unhappy—others were unhappy that they would have no say on the committee that determined the fees  and unhappy that the SAEF still had the right to do whatever it liked whilst they , the ones who “earned” the money had no say .
    3. While all the above deliberations were going on SASCOC had come to realise that these multi discipline Federations were a major problem and were not working. SASCOC set up a team to investigate ways of overcoming the problems and  to come up with a new model. As an interim measure they said that every sporting code that was part of a multidiscipline federation could continue to operate as separate associations ,become an associate member of the Federation and have a say in the running of the federation. There were conditions attached:

i.      That the combined votes of the various sporting codes could never outvote the combined Provincial votes. I.e. the Provinces still had the final say if they all voted together.

ii.      That the sporting codes constitution’s had to be in line with the SASCOC constitution.

We all thought this was the breakthrough we were waiting for. The disciplines agreed that they were happy with this arrangement and it was agreed that we would proceed with amending our constitution and allowing the disciplines to become associate members. A memorandum of understanding was signed by both the SAEF and the disciplines very simply stating that the disciplines would stop disputing the validity of the SAEF constitution  and the SAEF would accept the disciplines as associate members. The date for the SGM where the disciplines would officially become members as well as the notices for meeting and agenda was sent out to the members.


  1. 3.       The current disaster

Certain of the Provinces decided that they were actually not happy with this arrangement. This was led by Limpopo and WP.  The acting President was adamant that we honor our agreement as were KZN ,Freestate and Gauteng. Limpopo then tried to call a meeting to convince the other Provinces to renege on the agreement. As there was not enough time ,in terms of the constitution, to call a normal meeting they decided to call a SGM. The entire process of calling the meeting was illegal and not in terms of the constitution. For e.g. the motions that the persons calling the meeting wants voted on must be disclosed at the time of calling the meeting and must be agreed to by four other Provinces . The motions were only disclosed much later resulting in at least three of the Provinces agreeing to a meeting not knowing what was to be voted on . The SAEF legal committee agreed that the meeting was unconstitutional but Limpopo and WP insisted that the meeting take place.  Freestate lodged a dispute with SASCOC and this was supported by KZN. At the meeting the acting President was removed from office without even being given an opportunity to answer the charges that were used as justification for removing her and I was not allowed to partake in the meeting unless I agreed that the meeting was “legal” which I obviously could not do after seconding the Freestate dispute.  At this meeting it was then decided not to amend the constitution to allow for the disciplines to become associate members and to relook at the option of them just being technical committees. At the end of the meeting they sent out the letter that has just been published via the KZNHS newsflash.


  1. 4.       What now ?

We are now back to where we were some 18 months ago.  Most the disciplines are back at war with the SAEF and the SAEF is on the point of bankruptcy. The SAEF council is split , there have been plenty resignations from the council and its subcommittees and it’s generally just a mess. There is no one left on Council who  knows enough about any of the disciplines to be able to make educated decisions . There are also lots of un answered questions like:

Why remove a President from office just 4 weeks before the elections of a new President.?

Why does the Limpopo President , who is the only person  standing against the current acting President (who he has just got removed )to become the new SAEF President  , not want the disciplines to become associate members before the voting for the new President? Is it just because he knows that he will not be voted in if the disciplines have a vote or is it because he feels it is best for the sport ?

Why sign a memorandum of understanding committing the SAEF to accepting the disciplines as members and then renege on the agreement just 4 weeks prior to this being implemented ?

Why would the Limpopo President ignore the advice of the SAEF legal committee ( consisting of two senior advocates ) and the SAEF Secretary General  and insist that the meeting was properly constituted?

So now we all wait to see what SASCOC does, how they deal with the dispute, if they recognize the decisions taken at the meeting, if they place us under administration or suspend us. I must be quite honest and say something drastic has to be done. The current SAEF council has to admit that we have failed and cannot get unity in our sport. In 18 months we have achieved absolutely nothing except to destroy the sport and waste our members’ money with all these meetings up in Jhb.


And the strangest of all:

The Discipline chairmen are on the one side of the fence – the Provincial Presidents on the other -and they both say they are fighting for the benefit of the members

yet they are both referring to the same bunch of people


 Maybe it is time SASCOC stepped in and started the process all over again but this time making sure it is done 100% in terms of the constitution. Let the members vote all over again and make sure the voting process is done properly. The mistake made last time was that the process was rushed. You can’t ask a Province to elect a President within 3 weeks if some of the clubs constitution requires 4 weeks to just call a meeting !!! If you want a decision not to be able to be disputed you have to do everything 100% according to the constitution , even if the constitution is stupid—just do what the constitution says and then , again following the constitution, change it. Taking short cuts or bending the rules because you think it is “best for the sport” is shortsighted and ends up achieving nothing.