Safa president Danny Jordaan sees no contradiction in holding two prominent positions at once – he now heads up South African football and has a new job as mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality.
It is the kind of challenge he has adjusted to and dealt with for most of his life.
“Look, at one point I was a senior lecturer at Dower College, chair of the civic association north of Port Elizabeth, deputy president of the Soccer Federation and president of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union, all at the same time. It is not the first time I have had two responsibilities. It is just an issue of time management.”
Yes, time management and lots of balls to juggle.
On Thursday, he kept journalists waiting at Safa House in Johannesburg for three hours because he missed a flight from Port Elizabeth – where he had to meet councillors in the morning.
On Friday, he was sworn in as a councillor, starting a new block on his life’s large tapestry.
Being a public representative is not a completely new field for him. He served as an ANC MP for six years after the 1994 elections. He has always had a political bone in his body.
Jordaan reminds the journalists interviewing him that his political consciousness was not born out of joining a political party. It was thrust on him when, as a child, he watched the apartheid government evict his family from their home and move them from area to area in the Eastern Cape, until they finally settled in Bethelsdorp.
“When you see your home – which my father had built with his own hands – being destroyed and reduced to rubble, that will always stay in your mind.
“That’s when my political awareness started.”
He dispels the notion that he will have to start afresh, settling in Port Elizabeth full time and familiarising himself anew with the current politics and problems.
“I never left Port Elizabeth. I pay rates there and I live there. When you leave your home you don’t uplift your roots; you just take your jacket.”
The subject that really animates Jordaan and invokes his passion is the hypocrisy he feels he has been subjected to by those who say he can’t keep the two positions and must resign from Safa.
“Why must I be the first and only person in the country and the world to resign [because of two positions]?”
Jordaan points out that even the Economic Freedom Fighters, which asked for his resignation, has a member of the provincial legislature who is a football administrator – Aubrey Baartman.
He cites the mayor of Bela Bela, Lucas Nhlapo, who is also Safa vice-president, as well as Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana, who was an ANC MP for a long time while being Safa vice-president.
The former cricket and football player adds that it is also a worldwide phenomenon and cites the Russian sports minister who serves on the Fifa executive committee.
And he quashes talk that he will now earn two salaries, insisting he is only a “volunteer” at Safa.
“I earn no money from Safa. I do not even have a credit card, a petrol card or a stipend. Nothing. I refused them when they offered them to me.
“Once a year, Safa pays an honorarium to all executive members and then I benefit equally, like other members.”
Jordaan was loath to speak about the work and changes he would implement as Nelson Mandela mayor, saying the ANC had instructed him not to do so until he was sworn in.
He is uncertain about whether he will stay for another term after the local government elections next year, again saying the ANC would decide.
But he is unequivocal about where his long-term future lies: “In football.” It is football, Jordaan evidently believes, that showcased his capability as an administrator. It is where he defied the doomsayers when he ran a well-organised Fifa World Cup tournament in 2010.
“People had said no African country could run such a complex operation. For 100 years, they had refused to give the World Cup to Africa because they did not trust Africans. Suddenly when it was coming to us, there was now talk of a plan B, should we fail. There was never any plan B for Germany, Brazil or any other country. You could see there were expectations that the buses would run late, matches would start late and so on.
“When it was over, it was voted the best World Cup ever.”