/ 16 April 2013

Parliament demands full investigation into Safa

Sascoc's Tubby Reddy has told Parliament that Safa was refusing to open its books regarding its financial affairs.
Sascoc's Tubby Reddy has told Parliament that Safa was refusing to open its books regarding its financial affairs.

Chairperson of Parliament’s sport portfolio committee Richard Mdakane said they endorse the approach of Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, who has requested President Jacob Zuma to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry into the South African Football Association (Safa).

Members of Parliament were riled up after South African Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) chief executiveTubby Reddy told them that Safa was refusing to reveal details on its financial affairs.

Reddy said Sascoc met with Safa leadership on March 5 to discuss match-fixing, Safa’s financial situation, and various complaints in relation to the football transformation forum. 

Reddy said that at first Safa questioned Sascoc’s jurisdiction over it, but eventually the two bodies met. In the meeting, Safa stated that they were handling the match-fixing issue with Mbalula.

They refused to answer questions on financial issues because they felt that they were not given an upfront indication that they would be asked questions about their financial situation, said Reddy.

Reddy questioned the Association about a financial statement that revealed it was R92-million in the red.

“We agreed in the meeting that within seven days of that meeting, they’ll forward an indication of how they have turned things around.

“Their argument was that the financial statement was [of] June 2012 and the meeting was on March 5, they said nine months later they were in a better financial position and had turned their fortunes around,” said Reddy.

But to date, after two letters, Safa has failed to send the proof of the turnaround to Sascoc.

Damning document
Reddy said amid all this, a damning secret document about Safa’s finances was dropped anonymously at Sascoc’s offices.

Although Sascoc forwarded it to the Hawks, the investigations unit suggested that Sascoc do a forensic audit into Safa to help the Hawks in terms of their own investigation.

Reddy said they are waiting to see the terms of reference of the judicial commission of inquiry, if Zuma announces one and whether those terms cover the issue of Safa finances.

ANC MP Corra Dikgacwi asked whether Safa couldn’t be suspended from Sascoc, like basketball was suspended some years ago while it was under investigation.

“Not only is Sascoc seen as dealing with Safa with kid gloves, but the portfolio committee and the media are seen as dealing with Safa with kid gloves. We must be tough on Safa,” said Dikgacwi.

Congress of the People MP Graham McKenzie also spoke about the perception that Sascoc was soft on Safa but tough on other federations.

“What we just heard today is quite astounding. You were told you’ll get a document within seven days showing a better financial position which reflected the R92-million which you saw, but you still don’t have that document.

“It’s not an acceptable situation. The financial situation is hugely problematic …” said McKenzie.

The Democratic Alliance’s Donald Lee wanted to know about the legacy funds that were received from hosting the World Cup in 2010.

“When it [funding] arrived, it was about R700-million, and after a while, they were in the dwang again. It is imperative that the financials of Safa be investigated. There is no question that it could be otherwise,” said Lee.

He said the match-fixing investigation could continue as one element of an investigation, but a full probe of Safa finances was urgent.

Sascoc president Gideon Sam promised the MPs that they were not going to back off.

“Our strap line on Safa is very clear – once we have seen the terms of reference from the minister [Mbalula] and the issues we believe should be investigated are not there, we will go back to our original position of a forensic audit into the affairs of Safa,” he said.