Safa boss quits ... is it to do with looming retrenchments?

Gay Mokoena Picture: Gallo Images
Gay Mokoena Picture: Gallo Images

Gay Mokoena, the acting chief executive officer (CEO) of Safa, has resigned.

City Press can reveal that Mokoena tendered his resignation on Wednesday, but will stay on as the association’s vice-president – though not for long, if rumours are anything to go by.

On Friday, a cagey Mokoena confirmed his resignation.

“Yes, it is true that I have stepped down as of April 15, but not as a member of the national executive committee [NEC]. That’s all I am prepared to say,” Mokoena said by phone, before hanging up.

He became irritated when asked to shed more light on the reason for his resignation, which an insider said had to do with looming retrenchments at Safa.

The source said all NEC members had been informed about Mokoena’s resignation, adding that Mokoena had disagreed with the approach taken by Safa regarding the laying off of staff members.

Safa is going through a rough time at the moment, and people are going to be retrenched
A source

“Safa is going through a rough time at the moment, and people are going to be retrenched,” said the source.

“While Mokoena wanted to follow the labour relations legal process and, accordingly, issue a section 189 notice, the president apparently wanted it [retrenchment] to be done as soon as possible. They couldn’t agree on this process.”

The source said those likely to be affected by the retrenchment included provincial technical officers and contract staff members.

Mokoena was appointed Safa’s interim CEO in November, following the resignation of former incumbent Russell Paul, who also worked in an acting capacity after the departure of Dennis Mumble in 2018.

Initially, Mokoena was supposed to stabilise the administration for only three months, but by the time he resigned this week, he had stayed beyond his tenure.

It is not clear how advanced the process is for appointing a full-time CEO as the position has not been advertised. It is said that Safa will head-hunt a candidate.

The source told City Press that Safa’s financial situation was so bad that it had to go cap in hand to the department of sports to apply for a share of the R150 million relief fund set up last month to assist athletes and artists during the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis.

Before becoming agitated by questions over his resignation, Mokoena had told City Press that Safa had applied for the relief fund for players and match officials who had lost their income due to the virus.

“I must be honest [that], while we did submit some of the applications, we could have done more,” said Mokoena. “We got the forms on a Friday and had to return them on the Monday. Some of the forms weren’t signed or adequately completed as they needed to be accompanied by a bank confirmation letter and tax numbers. Most of the people on whose behalf we applied were members of the national teams, as they get paid per call-up. And with national team matches having been cancelled – including games involving Banyana Banyana, the women’s Under-20 team, Bafana Bafana and the Under-23 squad – it meant they weren’t going to get paid.”

Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa said his department had appointed six independent panellists to assess the more than 300 applications received for relief funding.

The fund was established to assist all athletes and arts practitioners, and was based on a set of criteria defined for each of the sectors, the sports department said on Friday.

Mokoena said Safa would also approach the Unemployment Insurance Fund to seek help for employees whose earnings had been affected by the pandemic and the resultant nationwide lockdown.

Mr Mokoena’s four-month contract ran its course. He never resigned
Safa spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi

Safa spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi denied Mokoena had resigned: “Mr Mokoena’s four-month contract ran its course. He never resigned. On accepting the appointment late last year, he made it clear that, as a businessperson, he was taking this appointment on a short-term basis as reported in the press release, which is on Safa’s website.”

On the issue of pending retrenchments, Chimhavi said: “There is no truth in that. Most companies are going through financial challenges and we have to streamline our operations. The issue of retrenchments or restructuring has not been mooted within Safa.”

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