Wednesday, April 24, 2024

A THORNY ISSUE: Rules are meant to be followed

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IT SEEMS that a self-inflicted wound has put the local bodybuilding and fitness federation in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

Clearly, if there are no provisions in their constitution for staging a special general meeting, you ought to know that even to entertain the thought or even proceed to put the idea in practice, you are begging for trouble.

The massive fall-out from the recent controversial elections convened under the banner of a special general meeting points to a constitutional breach, and it makes one wonder why some organisations could divert from the very rules and regulations that govern them as an umbrella grouping.

In such circumstances, I don’t believe you can blame others who might harbour the perception that there was possibly some kind of ulterior motive.

It is well known, and accepted that in any form of electioneering, candidates would try to get ahead of their opponents. But if those methods are seen to be extreme and attempt to give one side an unfair advantage over the other, the process inevitably breeds confrontation.

I hold no particular brief for any side in the current dispute but I think it is imperative to follow the letter of the law, and by so doing we will have a chance to avoid or at best minimise the prospect of controversy in matters such as the election of officers.

Sometimes no matter what you do, there will still be sore losers at the conclusion of a democratically run ballot but the secret is to follow accepted procedures so that at the end of it all, you will be on solid ground if there are any objections.

However, if you leave any loopholes, then be prepared to face the music.

To begin with, in this instance annual general meetings are constitutionally due by March 31 of every year, but the last one was held in October 2013. That action was a breach of what the regulations stated, but it was business as usual and the AGM apparently went on and was concluded without opposition. It appears that the difference between then and now is that the conventions were followed.

Therefore, in light of what allegedly transpired recently, it can be asked where is it stated in the constitution of the Barbados Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation that you can conduct a special general meeting with the intention of electing officers?

Isn’t the election of officers done at the annual general meeting?

What would have spurred the unprecedented move to do otherwise at the special general meeting ?

Section 9.2 of the constitution says in part that the annual general meeting shall include minutes from the last AGM, the consideration and adoption of an audited financial statement, the election of officers for the ensuing two years and the appointment of auditors.

Were all of those stipulations adhered to?

It is my understanding, though, that a special meeting can be called if any of the affiliates have a grievance to discuss, and it was done on rare occasions in the past.

It just seems wrong and under the circumstances, I agree with those who believe the election should be declared null and void and a new one called using conventional practices to determine who leads the organisation.

I think there should be consensus on this so that the threatened legal process can be avoided. However, if the parties stick to their guns this may be unlikely and I would prefer that arbitration be the first option to have the matter resolved to the benefit of the sport.

It is my understanding that the matter has been drawn to the attention of the Ministry of Sport, the minister and the National Sports Council (NSC).

I believe you can conclude that this was done because the federation is entitled to an annual subscription from Government coffers through the NSC, and some may hold the view that this shouldn’t continue to happen if there were alleged irregularities at the meeting called to elect officers.

Even so, if there’s a rerun, I think it should be quite intriguing if we take into account that the numbers who walked out of the meeting and those who stayed were split down the middle at 17 a piece.

Another interesting dimension is that two of the established gyms with more than one branch or sections, were allowed to have additional votes as opposed to the customary two delegates, so that obviously swelled the numbers of eligible voters.

I am not questioning the legality of such a move because if it was a precedent, it can be considered as a test case in the conversation going forward or maybe a resolution can be brought to amend the constitution so that it can become bona fide.

However, it must be said that leaders of local sporting organisations can’t give the impression that they are run like banana republics if they want to maintain credibility and be taken seriously by affiliates, sponsors and the general public.

If and when you don’t follow your own constitution, that is what happens.

 * Andi Thornhill is an experienced, award-winning sports journalist.

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