The writing was always on the wall for Ria Ledwaba and Gay Mokoena, who can’t claim they didn’t see their axing coming.
Those who were ditched before them often say that, once you disagree with Safa president Danny Jordaan, your days are numbered.
Ledwaba and Mokoena are not the first to bite the dust, and surely won’t be the last. It’s either you toe the line or you are out. Ask former Safa vice-presidents Elvish Shishana, Lucas Nhlapo, Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana and Mandla “Shoes” Mazibuko. Where are they now?
But since that big Charles Dampsey betrayal of South Africa during the bidding process for the 2006 World Cup in 2000, nothing should come as a shock in football any more. Strange things do happen during the night caucuses before decisive meetings.
Footballers are known for their dribbling skills – on and off the pitch.
So, what happened at the Safa meeting last Saturday might have surprised those not in the know, but it was nothing new for me.
The downfall of Ledwaba and Mokoena was plotted in a WhatsApp group. The same WhatsApp group in which I have been vilified, called names and labelled an agent, all because I dared to hold those in power at Safa to account.
Fortunately, I found out about the discussion from some NEC members who are not tainted.
But I digress. The latest developments at the troubled football association is a classic case of chickens coming back home to roost. I mean, these vice-presidents were there when the constitution was amended.
Ledwaba and Mokoena, in particular, benefited from the “new” clauses as they were not voted in by the congress, but by the council formerly known as the NEC.
According to one insider, Jordaan’s alleged modus operandi is to promise those who support him the vice-presidency and cars – hence his popularity among the executive members.
“They don’t know that Safa doesn’t have money for cars any more,” the insider said, laughing.
“He is way too smart for them and is always two steps ahead of them.
“As the president, Jordaan can recommend his preferred names to the executive for endorsements before taking the names to the congress for ratification. So who wouldn’t want to be his lieutenant?”
Isn’t it ironic that, immediately after the removal of Ledwaba and Mokoena, Safa reminded all its members about its communication policy, even reminding them about what happened to Nonkonyana a few years ago.
To me, this is tantamount to silencing people and suppressing their freedom of speech. What is very interesting is that, not so long ago – two months ago, to be exact – some NEC members wrote scathing letters and gave interviews when they responded to the withering Mokoena Report.
They hid behind the fine line, saying that they were doing so in their personal capacity. My foot. Nothing was said about their behaviour, at least as far as I know.
What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right? So what’s this animal farm behaviour all about?
Back to the meeting last Saturday. I find it odd that Jordaan allegedly insisted on chairing it even though, as far as I’m concerned, there was clearly a conflict of interest based on the Safa constitution and allegations in the Mokoena Report.
According to article 35.3 of the Safa constitution: “Any member of the Safa NEC must withdraw from the debate and from taking a decision if there is any risk of a conflict of interest.”
Ledwaba’s crime apparently was asking government to intervene in the current crisis. Her letter to Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa came after she had first written to Jordaan asking him to call a meeting to address the Mokoena Report.
But her plea fell on deaf ears as nothing happened even after her second letter, which was also sent to the NEC.
Then she decided to ask Mthethwa to give guidance.
Mokoena’s punishment was also a long time coming since his explosive report in April, which was damning to Jordaan. Mokoena did not hold back when he accused Jordaan of flouting governance principles.
What Mokoena should have known was that it was the beginning of the end for him as Jordaan’s right-hand man.
But the sad part is that the football executive members, who are expected by the nation to do the right thing, have not acted on the issues that Mokoena raised.
Former Safa chief executive Dennis Mumble raised similar issues and even more damning allegations against Jordaan.
Instead of addressing the issues, they tackled the man.
The big question is: Is Jordaan really untouchable? Or is it true that some executive members are thinking with their stomachs? Or is it the ambition of being elevated to the vice-presidency that ensures they don’t challenge and question him?
I don’t know the answer, but what I know is that a hungry stomach knows no morals!