The South African Football Association has revealed that it never took the decision to donate $10 million to the so-called Diaspora Legacy Programme.
Besides a single letter signed by the current Safa president, Dr Molefi Oliphant, no other correspondence exists between the international football association (Fifa) and Safa over the controversial “programme”.
Media24’s parliamentary bureau acquired this information from Safa after applying for it under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (Paia).
“Our client did not take a decision to donate US$10 million [about R129 million] to the Diaspora Legacy Programme. Accordingly, minutes containing such a decision taken by it do not exist,” said the answer from Safa’s legal team.
This admission by Safa has huge implications for the Fifa corruption scandal, which brought the football world to a standstill in June when the FBI started indicting the world’s soccer bosses.
The payment of $10 million to The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) was allegedly made to ensure support for South Africa’s 2010 bid.
However, the South African government insisted it was not a bribe, but a donation to Concacaf to “support and promote Africa’s diaspora”.
Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula was on record as saying: “It [the decision] was implemented by Safa in executing the policy of government in regard to the diaspora.”
But now the football association said it had no record of such a decision and there was no correspondence about the payment between Safa, Concacaf, the Local Organising Committee for the 2010 Football World Cup, or the government.
This admission once again raises serious questions about the role of Oliphant and current Safa president Danny Jordaan in the corruption scandal.
The only letter between Safa and Fifa about the diaspora programme is one that Oliphant had written on a Safa letterhead to Fifa on March 4 2008, and which was leaked to the media. In this letter, he instructed Fifa to channel the $10 million payment to Jack Warner (former Fifa vice-president).
Jordaan, who has since been elected mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, has still not explained why he, on December 10 2007, gave Fifa instructions on how to channel the payment. These instructions were contained in a document that used the letterhead of the now disbanded Local Organising Committee.
Jordan has not responded to a request for comment and declined calls to his cellphone. Oliphant’s phone was switched off yesterday.
Safa’s Paia answer also contradicts a six-page long statement that Safa issued when the Fifa bomb exploded.
In the statement, Safa’s chief executive Dennis Mumble defended the donation and denied that the diaspora programme wasn’t an “approved project”.
He said Safa wrote both controversial letters about the payment to Fifa.
“To be sure, it was the South African Football Association, after consultation with the South African government, who requested that Fifa make this grant to the Concacaf confederation – long after the bid was won – to support football development in the Caribbean,” said Mumble.
The Democratic Alliance also submitted a separate Paia application for access to all correspondence between Safa and other parties about the $10 million payment.
In response, Safa told the DA that no correspondence existed for the 2004 to 2011 period.
DA member of Parliament Solly Malatsi said it was “flabbergasting” and raised more questions about the existence of the diaspora project.
“The fact that there is no paper trail is a mystery. It is clear Safa is not telling us everything.”
The DA tried for months to get the parliamentary portfolio committee to question Jordaan about “Fifagate”. The committee refused to call him, but in June decided to invite Mbalula.
However, Mbalula failed to attend the parliamentary committee meeting.
Malatsi said the DA was determined to continue its fight to get Mbalula and Jordaan to answer questions in Parliament.
Safa issued a separate invitation to both Media24 and the DA to go through its records, under supervision, to see if they could find any relevant correspondence that Safa missed in its search.