SAMAA Workshop feedback

The SAMAA held a management workshop on Saturday, 2 February 2008. Follows are MY interpretation of the views expressed & some of the actions being undertaken which I view as being important (again, from MY viewpoint). Please be advised that this is not comprehensive, nor does it represent the official SAMAA view.

Focus on “Service to Members”

Rightly or wrongly, we all recognize that “bad news sells” and sadly we rarely pay attention to any good that is done. Perhaps the most exciting aspect I could identify is SAMAA’s strategic focus on “providing service to the SAMAA members”. SAMAA can & does make a tremendous contribution to the average RC flyer and in future this will be the only internal measure for success. Another point made was that everyone is likely have a different viewpoint/approach to doing things – we were requested to focus on the delivery of service to the member, rather than trying to critique the process of this delivery. Through this, Percy has also required full accountability for tasks assigned & noted that he will be driving this approach from the top.


The current sub-committee structure was revisited. Whilst there are a large number of sub-committees these all form important aspects of the organization. The chairs of each of these are singularly accountable for delivery of these. An important aspect is that more often than not, these positions are elected by their constituencies, and logic dictates that members should exercise their voting rights in the event of service delivery failure. The chairs were requested to begin tactical planning for succession & encouraging “new blood” within the various groups. Some structural revisions were made & the re-allocation of responsibilities were generally subtle; to my mind, the most significant being the seriousness SAMAA that views the topics of Insurance, Transformation & Public Relations, as these are now the responsibility of separate groups effectively reporting directly to the SAMAA Management Committee.


Some debate was raised regarding the Insurance Policy within South Africa. It is easy to point out SAMAA’s shortcomings using insurance as a battering ram, but it is obviously pointless as this is the only product that was ever offered to the Association. Notwithstanding this, the Insurance Group was immediately tasked with reviewing the risk cover, policy structure, excess & was requested to investigate alternates, given the changing dynamics of SAMAA, RC flying & short term insurance. A number of suggestions have been received from concerned members, and these will likely be considered when discussions are taken to the Insurers.


One of the aspects of operating in South Africa is that any organization has to take transformation into account. Fortunately, everyone is still entitled to their own opinions – but it is incredibly destructive & discouraging when slurs are cast on the people involved who are performing this role. Secondly, we need to recognize that transformation is a long term & strategic process – instant change is not feasible, unless we want SAMAA to be dragged down to the level of the likes of SARU etc., where it appears that the people actual involved in the sport/hobby are specifically excluded from meaningful decision making? The fact of the matter is that the SAMAA program is relatively successful:

  • Based on merit, we had a junior glider pilot competing in a world championships (2006) & who has again qualified on merit to compete as a member if the SA junior team in 2008.
  • The scale team manager – from what I understand is a very competent manager as per the requirements of the specific position.
  • A lot of discussion has been made about “David at JOMAC” – and I understand that he has already flown Solo based on support from this club’s members.
  • The presentation to parliament was a success judging by the positive feedback & interest shown by a number of key parliamentary individuals.
  • I understand that SAMAA have been notified that will again be receiving the transformation grant from LOTTO in 2008.

This then is the true story of the success of SAMAA’s transformation. But it will not & cannot end at this point, with the various sub-committee chairs have been tasked to continue to address transformation within their areas too.

Public Relations

SAMAA recognizes the need for communication – a structure whereby members & the organization can share meaningful information. It was agreed that the various official channels should be consolidated under one group, whilst the autonomy of independent channels such as SARFLY, etc. should be retained to provide transparency for all members. Perhaps the biggest challenge facing this group is the requirement to encourage non-member individuals to affiliate; it is generally recognized that “forceful” methods are basically futile, & that the benefits of the association should rather be emphasized to encourage participation, irrespective of any legal aspects.

ARO responsibility

During this review, an interesting aspect emerged that I was not aware of. It appears that the ARO that requires SAMAA to “control” RC flight in shared South African airspace, was not requested by SAMAA – the alternate was that this would be given to another organization, possibly with little or no interest/understanding of RC. It emerged that even though someone can “own” a piece of property, the control of the airspace above this is generally not that of the “owners”. I am still not clear if members of the public wishing to use the “shared airspace” for RC use need to contact the CAA for special dispensation or can automatically do so through SAMAA membership? Further, the question of personal (or otherwise) liability for Management Committee & individual members was raised – it is likely that some form of legal advice will have to be procured for this.

Manual of Procedures

Another aspect that has received some negative attention is the Manual of Procedures. It is a rather “comprehensive” document, but the point is to provide the members (old, new & future) of SAMAA with the necessary guidelines to enjoy their hobby safely. It was never expected that everyone could repeat the document word for word – but it should be capable of providing adequate advice about a specific topic or enquiry when required – possibly via an index or categorization approach. Without trying to defend it, the fact remains that most professional organizations have some level of predefined procedures – which ensure consistent process & measurable outcomes. We can procrastinate all we like, but the fact of the matter remains that this is only a start – the document itself acknowledges that it will always be a work in progress & will likely grow even further. Don’t believe me – then look at the various RC organizations in the USA, Canada, UK & Australia for their MoP’s & be prepared to wait for the massive downloads. I reckon that once a start has been made such as this, if anyone feels that a process is incorrect, or that something can be done better – they need only motivate the change… Why try to kill it before it has even been started is simply beyond me – the downstream benefits, such as enabling better negotiation for insurance, air space, etc. are considerable.

Sport sponsorship

Following the delegation of national team selection to the SIG Chairs in 2007, the biggest change during the workshop was the allocation of the Team Funding responsibility to the SIG group. This provides the SIG Chairs with the mandate to begin international team sponsorship & also funding allocation. If anyone is aware of any organization or individuals that provides sport team sponsorship services, then the SIG’s will likely be very keen to receive their proposals. Preference will be given to SAMAA members.

The mandate to ensuring competitions (Nationals, Masters, etc) are organized, and that National Teams are selected continues unchanged. Some overlap with the Regional / Clubs committees will likely occur during the provincial teams & allocation of provincial colours – but that will likely be dealt with by these groups.


The workshop was not earth shattering – but I reckon that by focussing on "get back to the basics/fundamentals", SAMAA can provide the members with appropriate services & similarly an Association that the members will support & would be keen to encourage other people to join. A number of questions remain – but the fundamental point of any service delivery is that questions are very useful for communicating areas of interest for members. Insurance, Transformation & Communications remain hot topics, with the Association re-structuring to address these as priorities.