The South African Football Association (SAFA) flexing its muscles in response to an event at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton enraged a coalition of civil society leaders.
SAFA’s vice-president, Ria Ledwaba was meant to address the gathering organised by the group that is in support of her nomination for the SAFA presidency. She was, however, warned not to attend the event that was to kick-start her campaign trail, as she was the keynote speaker. This follows a letter from SAFA, stating that nominated persons cannot publicly present themselves before the final list of nominees has been approved by the governance committee.
Ledwaba’s no-show at what was supposed to be her election launch was due to legal advice to try and safeguard her nomination. It was feared that if she spoke or attended, she would jeopardise her ambitions to succeed the incumbent, Danny Jordaan.
Ledwaba’s lawyer, Leruma Thobejane says, “She was still insistent on addressing you the members of the media and as an attorney I had to take a decision that will not risk her candidacy. My advice to her was that let’s wait until tomorrow, let me go and further research. I had to abandon court today so that I further consult with her but I did not want her to risk suspension or expulsion.”
The event was also attended by former SAFA CEO, Dennis Mumble. And when the gathering took a different direction after it was confirmed that Ledwaba would not be attending, Mumble took the opportunity to discredit SAFA’s adopted election process.
The former SAFA employee was spontaneously asked to explain the electoral procedures. And he questioned the authority of the recently appointed governance committee.
“The matter of competency is who governs these elections and is only the first instance body with the competence to decide that can take that decision that memo says to me that it did not come from a committee, it came from an individual and an individual that doesn’t have the authority to do so, there are no longer governance rules that are visible to the candidates who are supposed to participate in this election process so nobody knows what the rules are so what we see is the rules made up as we go along,” says Mumble.
Despite the non-arrival of Ledwaba, the veteran football administrator received a wealth of support from prominent sports figures who weighed in on her nomination.
Netball SA president Cecilia Molokwane says, “We want to say mama Ria given this opportunity, she is going to do it better and as women, we rally behind her and we say this is the best time and there can never be any better time for SAFA to be led by a woman and of Ria’s calibre.”
CSA Board Member Ntambi Ravele says, “We represent women in sport so we are talking about women in sport who would support Ria throughout but only if she does the right things and I’m definitely sure she will do it and if she does it, she will get our full support.”
It is unclear what Ledwaba’s next steps will be, but she will have to wait for the governance committee to approve the final list of nominees. Until then, it appears she will be unable to publicly present herself as a presidential candidate.