October 2012

PRESIDENT’S CORNER

October  2012 

Apology:

Michael van Breda, our hard working and efficient Web Master has tactfully pointed out that it is some time since the President communicated anything from his desk to keep the MCSA membership informed.

He is quite correct to remind me and I am afraid I can only offer the weakest of apologies. Namely, being too busy with other matters, which is no excuse.

Cencom Meeting & Annual Dinner:

Cost reasons, now that the MCSA no longer enjoys a special deal with SAA, dictate that Cencom best meets in the Western Cape where so many of our Sections are conveniently located.  But it its good when other regions can also take their turn as hosts. 

The second regular meeting of 2012 will be hosted by the Jhb. Section on 10th November combined with the MCSA Annual Dinner to celebrate this important Section’s 80th birthday.   This is somewhat later in the year than Cencom normally meets, but it has been timed to be after the MCSA President gets back from a very significant UIAA General Assembly in Amsterdam and also to allow the hard-working MCSA Secretary, Jenny Paterson, time to get her documentation in order after a well earned trip down-under.

UIAA General Assembly 2012 :

This important annual meeting of the Union of International Alpine Associations to which the MCSA belongs, took on particular significance this year following revelations of wasteful expenditure at the 2011 Assembly in Kathmandu,  This led to votes of no-confidence and the resignation of the President and two other Board members.  A care-taker Board under the chairmanship of the Vice President, with volunteer assistance from members of the Management Committee of the organisation, set about a full investigation into the organisation’s financial situation and imposed immediate remedial measures. 

A number of federations, including the MCSA, recorded their deep concern at the manner in which uncontrolled expenditure in excess of revenue had depleted reserves, but most federations agreed to maintain membership and to wait until the 2012 General Assembly in Amsterdam before considering further action.

At the General Assembly, two items on the agenda were consequently given particular attention. A  financial report by an acting Treasurer who took over in Kathmandu when the elected Treasurer resigned and the formal election of a new President and other Board members.  (The previous President and a senior Board member who resigned at Kathmandu, held office until 31 December to assist with investigations before handing over.)

UIAA  Finances:

Very good news was tabled at the Amsterdam General Assembly by the acting Treasurer who revealed that strict austerity measures plus the contribution of Management Committee  volunteers to assist with the work of a greatly reduced Board, had resulted in a complete turn-around.  Not only had wasteful expenditure been so far been reduced that a positive balance was being shown within months and reserves built up again, but the office and other  functions of the organisation had been as effective as ever. 

Further good news was the announcement of a massive sponsorship deal with North Face for Ice Climbing which remains as the only competitive branch of the association.  This has made Ice Climbing completely self-supporting and has released useful funds for other activities of the UIAA.   

UIAA  Elections:

In a tightly contested election in which a long-serving and experienced Vice-President,  Jordi Colomer from Spain, was pitched against a relatively young member of the Management Committee, Frits Vrijlandt from the Netherlands, there was a clear choice.  This was between a man with a proven record who had rescued  the organisation from a dangerous financial situation and one who promised to reform the organisation to make it more relevant and with greater transparency so as to avoid any similar problems in the future.     

Youth won the day and the UIAA will be led for the next four years by an energetic, self-made business man in his late forties with an impressive international climbing career, including a successful ascent of Everest.  In the elections which followed to fill other vacancies many newcomers to the organisational structures were favoured so the signs are positive for a greatly invigorated organisation, better able to serve the needs of its member federations. 

UIAA Commissions:

In spite of the obvious attention that had to be paid to financial matters at the Amsterdam General Assembly and to the need to elect an effective management team for the future,  the practical, down-to-earth work that has continued to be done by the UIAA Commissions was not neglected.

It is these working groups within the organisation that really give value to membership of the UIAA and the MCSA can be very proud of the effective role played by our representatives.  Although practical considerations mean that most of the MCSA volunteers can only be so called Corresponding Members (contributing by email), as a federation we consistently punch well above our weight.  Comment was made in reports by Commission Presidents that some volunteers contribute very little once elected and seem rather to make such offers as useful additions to their personal C.V’s,  but not so the MCSA members.

 Terms of office in UIAA structures are for four years, and there were a number of changes all round at the Amsterdam G.A. as terms came to an end. The following MCSA members must be thanked and congratulated on having put their names forward and on being accepted by the organisation:

Jenny Paterson    -   Will continue on the Youth Commission and in a more senior role.

Alan Jarvis          -   Will continue to contribute to the Safety Commission and is able to be a full-member.

Eckhart van Delft -  Has been accepted as a new member of the Medical Commission.

Maretha Alant      -  Has been accepted as a new member of the Mountain Protection Commission.

Roy Kendal          -  Has been accepted as a new member of the Access Commission.

Ulrike Kiefer       -   Volunteered to join the Expeditions Commission when there were plans to revive it. 

Discussion at the Amsterdam GA revealed that the appearance of professional expeditions companies had made most of the work previously done by this commission redundant, apart from negotiating access in politically sensitive areas.  Because of this, it is now planned to incorporate these volunteers into the Access Commission with a special focus on access for expeditions.     

Dave Jones

MCSA  President

October  2012 

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