Old-fashioned Safa ignores a chance to move with the times

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S'Busiso Mseleku
S'Busiso Mseleku

The South African Football Association (Safa) missed a golden opportunity last Saturday to put its money where its mouth is.

The organisation took a resolution some time ago that one of the four vice-presidents must be a woman come the 2018 elections.

This resolution was actually written into Safa’s constitution.

Safa has also embarked on a number of initiatives to improve the future of women’s football in this country.

Just this week, Safa president Danny Jordaan announced that, as part of his organisation’s partnership with Spain’s La Liga, Safa would send a 10-member delegation on a fact-finding mission focusing on gathering information about women’s football in that country.

Spain’s women’s football has grown in leaps and bounds in the past few years.

Jordaan said they hoped their partnership with La Liga would help fast-track the process of establishing a national women’s soccer league.

However, last Saturday, Safa missed out on an opportunity to accelerate the process of having a woman as one of its vice-presidents when it replaced Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana, who was sent to football Siberia in 2014 for misconduct.

Instead of co-opting a woman, the national executive committee settled for Xolile Nkompela, who, incidentally, comes from the same Eastern Cape as Nonkonyana.

When quizzed about this, Jordaan, who is a former Nelson Mandela Bay executive mayor, admitted this was a missed opportunity, but refused to discuss the matter further.

However, a national executive committee member who spoke on condition of anonymity said the issue had been hotly debated at the meeting.

“The most resistant regions of the 52 were those from KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape,” said this deep throat.

It emerged that, during the debate, some members from the Eastern Cape even argued that electing a woman into this position would be a “further insult to Nonkonyana as a chief”.

Apparently, the opinion was that the chief had already been embarrassed by being shown the door by Safa, so replacing him with a woman would be like rubbing salt into a festering wound.

If indeed there are still people thinking along these lines in our football, to quote one CC Ndebenkulu, the main character in Professor Sibusiso Nyembezi’s isiZulu classic Inkinsela YaseMgungundlovu: “Kusekude phambili [there is still a long way to go].”

Safa would do well to take a leaf out of our government’s book.

Our state has made big strides in levelling the political playing field in such a way that there is now a big push for a female president.

Since 1994, the state has not merely paid lip service to reform. Before the first democratic election – female representation in Parliament was 2.7%.

Women make up 41% of the ministers in the Cabinet, and female deputy ministers make up 47% of the total number of deputy ministers. A further 41% of women make up the representation in the National Assembly.

These are impressive figures that have even been lauded by the United Nations – figures that shame Safa, which only has one female president in its 52 regions.

On another note, the newly elected Nkompela tried to steal the thunder at a launch on Tuesday.

Given the mic for the first time to address the media after his co-option and to give a word of thanks, the current OR Tambo District Municipality speaker decided to lecture everybody on how the fourth estate should go about doing its job.

Nkompela would be well advised to stay in his own lane because what he knows about how the media works is very dangerous.

Maybe he should concentrate on resolving the controversy surrounding his security back home, where it is reported that “one of the companies hired to protect him was paid R405 156 a month – translating into more than R4 million in 10 months”.

This after the vehicle he was travelling in when he was still council speaker at Mhlontlo Municipality was shot at in December 2015.

Last year, he was quizzed by the Hawks on allegations of submitting a fraudulent teacher’s diploma when applying for a job in 2001.

Sorry to digress.

Follow me on Twitter @Sbu_Mseleku

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