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2012-11-24 20:27

Embattled CEO wants to fill the organisation with graduates

Nathi Ngcobo, the head of the legal department of the beleaguered SA Football Association (Safa), has been suspended.

Safa chief executive Robin Petersen told City Press that Ngcobo had been suspended indefinitely, but refused to divulge more information, saying the matter was sub judice.

However, information obtained by City Press indicates that the cause of the suspension stems from Ngcobo’s legal practice in Durban and has to do with an anomaly that has seen Safa receiving a garnishee order against him.

Ngcobo was removed from the Natal bar, something he did not disclose when he was hired by Safa, who only learnt about that through the garnishee order.

Efforts to get hold of Ngcobo were unsuccessful and he failed to respond to City Press’ questions.

His suspension comes at a time when Petersen’s future is unclear following reports that he was about to be repositioned to head a still-to-be-formed development wing.

Speculation is that chief operations officer Dennis Mumble will take over as chief executive.

But the shuffle may not go as smoothly as speculated in some quarters, as Petersen is preparing to fight to either keep his position or move to a new structure with a better deal.

It has also emerged that Petersen feels undermined by a few top staff members and a few National Executive Committee members after he was allegedly attacked at a recent executive committee meeting.

Petersen refused to discuss this, saying he was still to meet with Safa president Kirsten Nematandani to iron out some outstanding issues.

Nematandani has refuted reports of Petersen’s move, but in football circles it has become regarded as a matter of when rather than if.

All this is happening while there is enormous unhappiness among staff because of imminent changes Petersen has proposed in line with his plan to turn Safa into a “world-class” organisation while cutting costs.

The latest ructions have been caused by his plan – which has come under severe criticism from employees – to build a professional organisation run by university graduates.

Documents in City Press’ possession show that all staff members must reapply for their positions, which have new job specifications.

“If any member accepts a new position at a salary that is 10% or more lower than the current salary, a package of one week for every year served will be paid to ease the transition to the new salary band.

“If you do not have the necessary qualifications, but can provide an equivalent in NQF-level education or can vindicate your application in terms of necessary experience, you are encouraged to do so, although we are taking the qualifications seriously in the process of application,” reads part of the memo from Petersen to staff.

If the new plan is adopted, Banyana Banyana coach Joseph Mkhonza would be one of those who will find themselves jobless.

However, Petersen was quick to say there would be exceptions, particularly in coaching.

“Our aim is to raise the bar, but we understand that not everybody is qualified at the moment.

It is our duty and responsibility to help those who don’t have the necessary qualifications to get them in the next few years,” said Petersen.

He said the aim was to build a fully professional Safa.

“We agreed with the staff that this is what we would like to have in place and as we move forward these are the kind of people we would like to recruit, as there are lots of them out there.”

Petersen said he wanted to build a sustainable organisation with competent people in the right places.

“With our financial situation, it is essential to decrease costs and increase service delivery, and we can do that only if we have the right structures in place. We need a rational remuneration structure.”

He said the new structure would accommodate 12 positions less than the current one.

The Banking, Insurance, Finance and Assurance Workers’ Union (Bifawu), which represents the workers, has said no to the new structure.

The matter went to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) this week and the two parties were given seven days to submit heads of argument.

Bifawu’s Mfundo Nhlapo said his organisation was against the move to have people reapply for their jobs.

He said Safa was out of order to change the terms and conditions of employees’ contracts midstream.

“We have a collective bargaining agreement with Safa that sets out the processes of restructuring and it is bound by section 189a of the Labour Relations Act to consult with us before restructuring, which it has failed to do,” said Nhlapo.

He said if Safa went ahead with restructuring, as many as 69 employees would lose their jobs.

“Most of our people do not have those high qualifications, but have skills and experience in those jobs.

Safa also wants to change its terms of employment from permanent to three-year contracts and we are saying this cannot be done.”

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