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Ruta Mave: Open and honest transparency in sport and government

Monday 22 May 2023 | Written by Ruta Tangiiau Mave | Published in Editorials, Opinion


Ruta Mave: Open and honest transparency in sport and government
Ruta Tangiiau Mave. Photo: CI NEWS

Knowing corruption happens and saying nothing, means you accept it and allow them to be voted in again, writes Ruta Mave.

Winter is coming, the nights are cooler and the foliage is falling from the trees exposing the network of branches beneath. When times are good and warm the branch schematic is hidden and assumed it is there for the foundation support of the leaves and flowers.

Winter brings transparency, a time where the structure can be easily seen through. In business governance transparency refers to being open and honest. Government budgets are about to be released to the public and it will stand to be seen if indeed they are as transparent as they pretend to be.

The Prime Minister recently released a media statement of where he was heading next on his official engagement. It was the G7 summit in Japan, a notable cause and unexpected invitation to be noted.  The transparency of the over indulged 15-member delegation to Egypt for a climate change meeting however, has been camouflaged in so much foliage it looks like an honest and open worthy endeavour.

Transparency, honesty and openness are used so prevalently they roll off the tongue and onto the page of speech notes along with promises, visions and togetherness in an accepted rote of best practice. They are of course supposed to be exactly that in a corporate context, a disclosure of all relevant information so that others can make informed decisions. In a computer science context, the meaning of transparent signifies invisible or undetectable. Unfortunately, from what I have often seen is, the word transparent is bandied around by our leaders we are expecting open honesty while they are speaking invisibility behind closed doors.

I have recently returned from an Athletics congress for Oceania where the president of World Athletics Lord Sebastian Coe was present. Here is a man who came into the position in 2016 amid the calamity left by the previous president Lamine Diack 1999 – 2015 who was found guilty of corruption that covered up Russian doping in return for millions of dollars in bribes. Coe promised a slew of changes to do more than clean up the house of Athletics, he promised to rebuild it altogether and present a whole new structure to the world of Athletics.  

Both residents had come from being a champion athlete, Diack long jump in the 1950s and Coe as a middle-distance runner. Coe won four gold medals at the Olympics in 1980 and 1984. He entered politics in 1992–1997 with the Conservative Party. As chairman of the organising committee, he successfully landed the bid for and the consequent running of the London Olympics. He sat on the ethics committee for FIFA and British boxing before replacing Diack.

In his tenure since 2016 he has to his word done exactly as he promised with full open and honest transparency. In 2019 I witnessed and was part of the World Congress meeting where his position was up for re-election. He stood unopposed which was a nod of approval and then 203 nations were asked to vote yes or no for a majority needed to remain. He received 203 votes in support. Across the nations of Africa, Asia, North and South Americas, Scandinavia and Oceania he had gained their trust and support.

Transparency was first and foremost in the minds of his team and the Athletics world, it started at the top and filtered right down to every federation including ours. Coe spoke about the journey at our congress last week and how to stand apart and to stand for change and what is not only right but for the betterment of everyone is not an easy task and it comes often with sacrifice. Cleaning up corruption, nepotism and injustice takes time and focused energy and often can be disheartening when one is found and removed, another schemer takes their place and the cycle continues.

We have had similar problems in our own sport federations and Olympic committee, with reports of theft of funds, using positions to advance a person’s own self finances or family. It is disheartening to hear it’s still happening today. Another person holding an executive position exploiting their members by gaining their trust then misusing their money for their own personal gain.

If we want the heart of our sports and government structures to be better, we have to stop voting in the borer and termites who are self-serving and are undermining the foundation as a whole, it will crumble and cease to exist to serve the community it’s supposed to be supporting.

Many of us know who is ripping us off via the system but we need to rise up and take a stand. Knowing corruption happens and saying nothing, means you accept it and allow them to be voted in again.

For open honest transparency in sport and government the borer and termites must be fired.