Larry Nestadt, pictured below, currently serves as a member of the Nominations Committee of the NHA.
I have been involved in the Horseracing and Breeding Industry, both locally and internationally for almost 40 years, mostly as an Owner and Breeder and previously having served as a Director of the National Horseracing Authority, and Chairman for 3 years.
It saddens me to see the fragmented state of the industry at this time and I would humbly like to make some suggestions in the hope that we can help the industry avoid making decisions that will not serve its best interests.
The recent proposed amendments to the Constitution are not workable in my opinion.
A board consisting of some 11 members who represent very different interests will not be able to function optimally and will be unlikely to finish a single board meeting.
I am fully aware of the challenges that the industry is facing, in fact there is absolutely no doubt that this is the most precarious situation that we have ever been in.
Costs are increasing, contributions from stakeholders are waning, immense pressure on the gambling rand and before long, the industry will be damaged beyond repair, something that we all want and need to avoid.
My suggestion for the Board to function properly is that the Board be corporatized.
This Board should be democratically elected by its members and must serve the wider interests of the industry. The Board must meet with all stakeholders and on a regular basis to ensure that everyone has a voice.
The Board must be reconstituted to consist of 4 to 5 independent, properly remunerated, Non-Executive Directors one of whom will be elected as Chairperson.
The Chairperson will also serve as the Chairperson of the Nomination Committee together with 2 other Non-Executive Directors from the Board. The function of the Nomination Committee is to screen Independent Non-Executive candidates for the Board.
The other 2 positions on the Board shall be made up of the Chief Executive Officer of the NHA as well as the Chief Operating Officer (the current role of the Racing Executive) which role is imperative and must not be abandoned. This fulfils the requirements of the King IV code on good corporate governance.
Where members have an issue with the management of the NHA, the solution is to address the shortcomings with the Board, who will address the issue. It’s my understanding that the current NHA rules cater for this process.
On another note, the racing industry is very small and continues to contract at an alarming rate. The best interests of all concerned would be served by having one single Race Operator. This will certainly ensure immediate savings and thereby ensuring the sustainability of this industry.
In conclusion and whilst I am all for change and progress, I must caution all interested parties to carefully consider the changes proposed. Let us work together to save the industry we are passionate about. If we make a mistake on this score, I’m afraid that there will be no turning back.
Let us rather work together to re-establish the Board in a manner that makes sense for Horseracing in South Africa.