Three months after unceremoniously dismissing Ria Ledwaba and Gay Mokoena as vice-presidents, Safa has made a dramatic U-turn and agreed to let Ledwaba return to her post.
This comes a few days after an extraordinary Safa national executive committee (NEC) meeting at which appointed former Mamelodi Sundowns boss Natasha Tsichlas and Gladwyn White as deputies to the federation’s incumbent president Danny Jordaan.
Ledwaba was fired in June for writing directly to Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa highlighting the problems within the association. Mokoena was given the boot after he released his explosive Mokoena Report in which he accused Jordaan of running Safa as his persona fiefdom, among others.
Tsichlas and White therefore came in as replacements of Ledwaba and Mokoena who were dismissed on the grounds that the NEC no longer had confidence in their abilities.
In a statement on Tuesday, Safa said that Tsichlas had agreed to step down to make way for Ledwada. The fallout between Ledwaba and Safa was headed for arbitration.
However, Tsichlas seems to have helped mediate a truce following a consultation on Monday with the NEC members who attended the meeting on Saturday.
Safa acting CEO Tebogo Motlanthe confirmed that the association was happy to endorse Tsichlas’s presentation and to support her offer to make way for Ledwaba to return.
He, however, said the move should “not be viewed as a condonation of wrong doing but a response from an internationally recognised woman leader in football”.
Motlanthe said the decision also meant that the money saved by avoiding a legal battle would be better spent “to provide for Safa’s 52 regions with financial support to further football development”.
Said Tsichlas: “I am happy that I could convince the NEC then and express my appreciation to the NEC to agree to withdraw from the arbitration and to reinstate Ria Ledwaba.”
In persuading Safa to reinstate Ledwaba, Tsichlas said some of the concerns she raised include:
- "Pursuing the matter of arbitration, which in my view may be prolonged and costly;
- As a business person, I always believed that the money in football must be used to promote the development of football;
- I therefore requested a consultation on the matter and the NEC having deliberated on the matter and having considered my submission, agreed that it would be wise to withdraw from the arbitration process and reinstate Ria Ledwaba as vice-president of Safa; and
- This however, must in my view not be regarded as my agreeing with or condoning any act of misconduct or turning a blind eye to any wrong doing.”
Tsichlas added: “The women on the Safa executive were insulted, abused, humiliated and even had their lives threatened by people who have made no contribution to the growth of football in our country.
“Safa is a leader in promoting women in football [in administration, coaches, referees, national team coaches, promotion of education and the promotion of our players internationally].
“I have served on the women’s committees of both the CAF and Fifa for many years, promoting the interest of women and both the CAF and Fifa are full of praise of Safa and its leadership’s role in the promotion of women in football.”
Tsichlas also said she convinced the NEC to rope in Ledwaba in 2013, just over a decade after Ledwaba had left the game following the sale of her club in 2002.