By NAKAMPE LEKWADU
WITH only few weeks six weeks remaining before the Orange Africa Cup of Nations, the country’s football body SA Football Association has been hit by controversy.
This after SAFA president, Kirsten Nematandani was forced into a voluntary leave following on Match Fixing allegations brought forward by FIFA.
Last week FIFA sent a report to SAFA in which some of the officials were implicated in Match Fixing ahead of the 2010 FIFA world Cup which was organised and hosted in South Africa.
Following on the report, SAFA’s Emergency Committee held a meeting on Friday which was finalised yesterday wherein a number of far-reaching decisions were taken concerning the Report on Match Fixing compiled by FIFA Investigators.
Among the decision taken by the committee, after extensive discussion, the Emergency Committee felt that the President would have to appear before the Commission of Enquiry to explain his role in the matter. Having considered the implications of this for SAFA, the Committee asked the Nematandani to take a voluntary leave of absence from his position while his deputy, Chiefs Mwelo Nonkanyama taking over as acting president.
The committee has also resolved to write to FIFA and acknowledge that, through the actions of members of its staff during the warm-up matches prior to the FIFA 2010 World Cup, there is a prima facie breach of FIFA Statute 13.1 (g), which prohibits the control of its affairs by an outside party, in this case Football 4U International controlled by Singaporean Wilson Perumal Raj and his criminal syndicate.
The Committee also noted that the appointment of Football 4U International was never brought to the attention of the SAFA NEC.
SAFA apologised to FIFA, and undertook to take the urgent and serious actions to deal with the matter.
Other agreement reached by the committee include setting up a Commission of Enquiry, under the leadership of a retired Judge, to fully investigate the matter and the members cited in the report, and that this Commission sit as a matter of urgency so that the issue can be speedily resolved and that all members of staff mentioned in the report who will need to give evidence at the Commission are likewise put on special administrative leave pending the finalisation of the Enquiry, or pending receiving a clearance from the Commission. This action in no way implies that these individuals were involved in Match fixing. It is again simply for good governance that this measure is being implemented. The members of staff so affected are: Dennis Mumble, Lindile ‘Ace’ Kika, Adeel Carelse and Barney Kujane.
The former CEO, Lesley Sedibe, and the former Head of Referees, Mr Steve Goddard, will also be asked to give evidence and cooperate with the Enquiry.
Pinky Lehoko has since been appointed as acting CEO in the interim.
Outgoing CEO, DR Robin Petersen, stated that these decisions were necessary for good governance and for allowing this matter to be thoroughly and properly investigated. Although he will be assuming his new role as CEO of the SAFA Development Agency in January 2013, he will be based in the SAFA offices and will work closely with Ms Lehoko in the interim period
dSaid Nonknyama after he was appointed acting president: “This is a difficult situation for the Association, and for those who have been named in the report. We hope that there will be no speculation about their presumed guilt or otherwise. We need to allow the investigation to take place speedily and fairly, so those that are innocent can be separated from those who are not.”
SAFA was hit by power struggle ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup which saw the presidency candidates, Irvin Khoza and Danny Jordaan involved in a neck to neck race for the position but only to be side-lined by their powerful positions as the chairman and CEO of the then Organising Committee, and Nematandani came in as a late substitute for them.
It remains to be seen as to whether this latest development will affect the preparations for AFCON which starts on January 19 or not.