R400m poser for 2013 Afcon LOC

2012-08-18 19:20

Organisation will either sink or swim within the next four months

The Local Organising Committee (LOC) will have to pull off an act of Herculean proportion to stage a flawless and successful 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in four months’ time.

So far, the organisation with a staff of 25 has been operating with funds provided by the cash-strapped SA Football Association (Safa) and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) since its inception in March.

The CAF put R50 million on the table towards the R400 million budgeted for the tournament.

This scenario means that within the next four months, the LOC still needs to:
» Raise more than R300 million to make budget;
» Hold its first full-board meeting;
» Elect a chairman;
» Review the list of ministers seconded by President Jacob Zuma to serve on the board;
» Establish how much national government will put towards the tournament
» Secure local sponsorship for the tournament;
» Award a tender for ticketing and hospitality;
» Announce and launch the volunteer programme;
» Host the final draw in eThekwini; and
» Determine ticket prices and open-ticket sales.

The LOC’s first full-board meeting is supposedly scheduled for tomorrow because Zuma only recently seconded ministers to the board.

The ministers are Fikile Mbalula (sports), Aaron Motsoaledi (health), Dina Pule (communications), Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (defence and military veterans), Marthinus van Schalkwyk (tourism), Richard Baloyi (cooperative governance and traditional affairs) and Nathi Mthethwa (safety and security).

Already there are mutterings that there are ministers who should have been on the board who were left out of Zuma’s list.

Mbalula told City Press on Friday he has asked Zuma to review the list. The matter would also be discussed at the board meeting.

But there are doubts that the meeting will go ahead tomorrow as planned, with LOC CEO Mvuzo Mbebe telling City Press only that “we have sent out invitations for the meeting to be held on Monday”.

Mbalula was cautious. “The meeting is supposed to take place on Monday,” he said.

However, another board member from Safa said: “I was told the meeting has been postponed to Friday.”

On the list of ministers, Mbalula said: “We have agreed to review that list as there are people such as the minister of finance who should have been there as somebody who controls the budget. We will review the list at the meeting that is supposed to take place on Monday.”

Both Mbalula and Mbebe, however, were adamant the tournament was going to be a success despite the challenges facing them.

“When we started the project in March, we knew there would be huge challenges as we had to do what normally takes three years in a space of nine months,” said Mbebe.

“I’m not worried but confident that we will deliver as the tight schedule leaves no room for error.”

He acknowledged though that time was not on their side, saying that it was actually not four months “when you factor in weekends, public holidays and the fact that South Africa grinds to a standstill in December”.

He said he was confident that government would come to the party as “Mbalula had assured us of government support in April and the matter of funding is now with Cabinet”.

Mbalula said Cabinet would decide and announce the amount at their next sitting.

“I know how much it is, but I cannot divulge the figure before Cabinet makes the announcement,” he said.

The LOC has also been caught in a bind as their employees were introduced to their Safa counterparts on the same day that CEO Dr Robin Petersen informed the football organisation’s staffers that there were likely to be job losses, as Safa was “reingineering” itself.

In a strongly worded document, Safa staff members accused the organisation of overlooking them for jobs in the LOC, and appointing people from the SABC and formerly with the 2010 World Cup LOC at exorbitant salaries.

The staffers argue they should have been seconded to the LOC rather than face retrenchment.

This week, City Press was called by Sipho Sithole, who introduced himself as the chief communications officer at the LOC. Sithole was formerly with the SABC as head of strategy.

The Safa media and communications department has four staff members.

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