Timspirit: More bite and less bark, Mr Minister

2013-04-07 10:00

There are some things in life that are retrievable, but Father Time has always been the exception.

Time, along with tides, waits for no man.

It is said that you can only touch one part of a river before it is gone forever and Safa, I reckon, let go of its twig in the river far too quickly.

That twig happens to be a judicial commission of inquiry into the match-fixing affair.

A judicial commission has powers to subpoena any witness it deems necessary while an independent inquiry, which Safa is punting for, is virtually toothless, with limited powers, by comparison.

The hullabaloo that has erupted between Safa, the SA Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) and the department of sports – regarding whether to have a judicial commission or an independent investigation to tackle match-fixing allegations involving Bafana Bafana’s pre-World Cup matches and also the affairs of the association – should not have been there.

The three parties should be finalising the terms of reference of the commission in a bid to speed up the process.

We all know that Fifa is quick to act where it perceives government interferes in football matters.

Methinks this is a criminal matter that calls for the state’s relevant organ to act, especially on serious allegations such as this one.

Furthermore, there is a dossier that contains serious allegations about missing money and maladministration in football.

City Press has a copy of the explosive document that was laid at Sascoc’s doorstep by an anonymous person in February.

There is no smoke without fire, and these allegations cannot and should not be dismissed as sour grapes by disgruntled people within Safa.

They should be probed so that there is closure on all the issues.

The standoff led to Minister Fikile Mbalula and Safa president Kirsten Nematandani jetting off to brief Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke this week “to make sure everyone has the same level of information and find a common perceptive on the way forward”.

The meeting agreed on an independent judicial commission of inquiry to be set up by the government with limited powers on matters only relating to the case of irregularities in the infamous friendly matches.

Basically, the government’s hands have been tied because such an investigation should be wide-ranging.

Does it require Fifa to spoon-feed Safa the programme?

Did it have to take Mbalula and Safa going to Fifa to set up this commission?Or is it a case of the African inferiority complex that they cannot sort out their own matters, like it took Paul Simon to get Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s music recognised globally?

Where there is an allegation of corruption, the law must take its course. Period.

And the government is the law in the country, therefore it must intervene.

Here I ask myself why Safa is conveniently ­­­side-stepping this issue of getting to the bottom of the allegations.

Something is amiss here.

Why did Safa make a U-turn in its initial call for a tough commission and now it wants a watered-down, independent commission?

One thing for sure is that Safa cannot be both player and referee in investigating itself.

This is a perfect opportunity for the organisation to help clean up its image and get its house in order.

By refusing a full-scale commission, I smell a rat.

Maybe I missed the brief somewhere, but I think someone is trying to sweep something under the carpet.

There can never be another opportunity to get things right and missing this one would mean missing out for Safa.

So when it suits them, the government is interfering, but it is well and good when they run to the same government for guarantees when hosting events.

I agree with Mbalula that where there is a perceived corruption, it is government’s duty to take action.

Why would people want to go for a toothless independent commission when they can use state resources to get to the bottom of the shenanigans that are going on?

For a long time football people have been labelled as being a law unto themselves and it is time for the minister to show his powers and act.

Time is running out for Safa to clean up its act and people are getting impatient with the shenanigans going on in our football. So am I.

Show us more of your bite and less of your bark, Mr Minister, or you will always be regarded as a toothless poodle rather than a ruthless Rottweiler.

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