Clouds gathering as Safa approaches presidential elections

As alleged incidents of malfeasance and corruption escalate at the South African Football Association and feelings of discontent about the leadership at the organisation freely bubbles, words from some in the association are adamant: the current president of the association goes nowhere; he will prevail; he will serve the association, if need be, to eternity.

This, even in light of a hint by the media statement issued by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation or the Hawks, that some person or persons at Safa might face criminal charges. Who that person might be, remains an open question.

The terse statement, ominous to the ear, reads: “At this stage the prosecution has requested information from persons of interest in order to ascertain their various degrees of involvement in benefiting from the Safa account. As and when there are arrests to be communicated, the DPCI will do so.”

When the country’s criminal investigative unit sends a signal that all may not be well at Safa, do we continue to turn a blind eye, and pretend all is well?

For several weeks, questions have been sent to Safa to clarify its position in light of allegations of theft, corruption and malfeasance. These have been ignored. 

Last week, it is understood that the Safa matter had been escalated to the National Prosecuting Authority. Might we see the prosecution of a high-ranking official? Indications point to that possibility. Safa insiders say the evidence of corruption is overwhelming.

Suspended national executive committee member Willie Mooka said he had last year laid charges of theft and corruption against organisation president Danny Jordaan.

“I have personally laid charges against Mr Danny Jordaan for the unlawful and unauthorised payment of R40 000 to a security company for his personal security. I have also laid charges for the Fun Valley Project, bought for Safa, in which the president inflated its sale value from R30-million to R65-million, with the aim to personally benefit from the proceeds of the transaction.” 

Mooka also alleged that the president had illegally, and without authorisation from the Safa structures, used Safa money and employed a public relation company to “clean up Jordaan’s image after an alleged rape scandal had surfaced in which he was a party”.

Last week when the NPA was asked about imminent prosecutions of any senior Safa officials, there was again no response. But we know that charges of theft and corruption had been laid against Jordaan by Mooka and the saying goes: there is no smoke without fire. 

Something terribly wrong might be happening at Safa and the failure by the officials to clarify issues with the media, might be a tell-tale sign that much is being hidden from the public and that public funds might have been misused to benefit high-ranking officials.

That there are officials at Safa who are being criminally investigated by the law enforcement agency would suggest that, before the body’s presidential election in June, the organisation may be facing headwinds that may threaten its stability.

There are some members of the body’s national executive committee who are backing the re-election of Jordaan as the Safa president unopposed.

An inside source said such a move was not surprising because “there is a lot of bribery going on at Safa”.

The source alleged that there are several NEC members benefiting from schemes of corruption. “We know that Mercedes-Benz sedans have been purchased for some NEC members … it is in fact an open secret that with such incentives, many have chosen the immoral route if only to secure for themselves a good lifestyle. In fact, some NEC members have in December each been ‘rewarded’ with R20 000 cash payments. Why would they not support Danny for re-election?” alleged the source.

Jordaan’s two-term presidency has been tumultuous. In 2016, he remained Safa president even when he was elected by the ANC to serve as executive mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay metro. Why did he want to be a mayor and Safa president at the same time, even when many had raised concern about the futility of such a move? 

What was the incentive to be at Safa and in Gqeberha as a political appointee of his organisation, the ANC, while also serving the interests of national football?

These questions have never been fully answered. Insiders have alleged that during this period, Jordan has consolidated his power base at Safa, and rules the organisation with an iron fist. 

The coming days, weeks and months will tell what his future might hold, whether allegations of misappropriation and corruption and theft will stick and whether the docket for alleged malfeasance and theft and corruption will hold any water. 

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Mail & Guardian.

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