OPINION: Narinder K. Bhatia, the vice-president of India’s Delhi Soccer Association, said little money trickles down to the grassroots.
“It’s been very difficult to run the game,” Bhatia said. “We are unable to provide nutrition. A cup of tea and a snack is not enough for players during matches.”
In South Africa, revelations that bribes were paid to get the 2010 World Cup have angered millions.
Stephen Wade, Associated Press 30/5/2015 Victims of FIFA scandal? Small clubs and youth teams say they need money that was diverted
In television news where, if you are lucky, you are given 70 seconds to sum up complex issues and conflicting statements, the best means of cohesively bringing clarity is the ‘must-ask’ question.
And the must ask question which Danny Jordaan must now answer is: How was the African Diaspora Legacy money spent? A follow-up question would be: Why the absolute dearth of publicity at the time when this money was sent to Jack Warner for this allegedly laudable, ubuntu-based programme? If ever there was a ‘good story to tell’ this was it and yet, uncharacteristically, all the usual imbongis were silent at the time. Why?
South Africans have recently experienced what I call, in news-gathering terms, a ‘thank you Judge Mostert’ moment, a moment when suspicion gains flesh, blood and sinew and conjecture becomes reality.
On Tuesday, 2 November 1978 the courageous Judge Anton Mostert, after staring down P W Botha, called a press conference and revealed details of the multi-million rand Info scam. The next day the Rand Daily Mail front page lead was “It’s all true!” Four days later Rapport reduced that three word headline to one – “Swendelary!” (a swindle) and I remember sitting in a Windhoek coffee shop avidly absorbing the details of the biggest corruption story in decades.
Now, South Africans are having another, “It’s all true!” moment.
The genesis of that moment came when the FBI, drawing on the experience they gained in putting Al Capone behind bars, nailed Chuck Blazer for tax evasion and what started in a New York Court room on 25 November 2013 had its explosive denouement in Zurich on 27 May when the FBI arrested seven FIFA officials for bribery and corruption – bribes worth $100m spanning three decades. The allegations date back to the 1990s and involve ‘the acceptance of bribes and kickbacks’, estimated at billions of dollars – criminality that covered three decades and involved and affected in large or small measure every country in the world.
One man and two words unequivocally hold the key to releasing South Africa from its current scandal bondage – Danny Jordaan and Fiduciary Duty.
It was Jordaan’s fiduciary duty to monitor how the money given to a known scoundrel, Jack Warner, was used. According to Wiki: “During his tenure, Warner was implicated in numerous corruption allegations some of which date back to the 1980s.”
Warner is as bent as a boomerang and if Jordaan didn’t know that then his naiveté is not only extraordinary, it is reprehensible.
Investigative reporter Andrew Jennings has revealed that Warner’s financial machinations – with the connivance of Blatter – were known five years before Jordaan wrote to FIFA general secretary Jérôme Valcke on 10 December 2007 explaining how the money was to be paid: “Warner’s sweetheart World Cup TV deals were first revealed in May 2002 when then FIFA general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen produced a devastating 21-page report attacking Blatter and claiming ‘FIFA today is run like a dictatorship.’ A section focussing on Warner disclosed that ‘for the World Cups of 1990/94/98, Jack Warner received them at the symbolic price of one dollar.’ Zen-Ruffinen also claimed that Warner had acquired the rights for 2002 because he obviously pressured the President.”
Furthermore, Jennings says Warner “holds his hand out even in his sleep” and his description of how South Africa lost the 2006 SWC bid to Germany defines corruption in the most chilling terms.
Could it be that the bitter lessons which South Africa learned in that defeat structured its approach to the 2010 bid?
Jordaan must surely, if we are to believe his protestations of innocence, have asked Blatter and Warner and Valcke between 2008 and now for progress reports on the African Diaspora Legacy Project and for details on how the money was being spent so that he could report back to his principals and the South African public? And was it not his fiduciary duty to ask those questions?
The money was handed over seven years ago – in March 2008.
The FBI arrested the FIFA officials on May 27 this year.
Why is it that, in the interim, the Government Communications Department has not afforded any publicity to this truly wonderful African Renaissance project? Go to the GCIS website and type ‘African Diaspora Legacy Project’ into the search bar and you will not find a single reference to it but, in true ANC blame-the-media fashion, we are now told that the media expressed no interest in the story at the time.
Above all, where was the publicity, the eulogising fanfare, the full page newspaper advertisements from the Department of Sport and Recreation? Go to its website and type Diaspora into its search bar and the only reference to the word – a brief, passing reference – that can be found is in a speech made by Fikile Mbalula in Sweden on 23 May 2012 – Africa Day. There is no mention in that speech of the African Diaspora Legacy Project but lots of praise for the ANC and the obligatory denigration of the West.
The African Union held a Global African Diaspora Summit in Johannesburg from 23 – 25 May 2012 and announced several legacy projects yet nowhere is there any reference to the African Diaspora Legacy Project.
This would have been the ideal occasion and venue for local FIFA representatives to update South Africans on how their R120 million gift to soccer development in Trinidad was being utilised but the silence was deafening. Why?
In fact, so quiet was the government GCIS department charged with keeping the nation informed of what government is doing and the department charged with keeping the nation informed about important matters relating to sport – the Department of Sport and Recreation – that Cope spokesman Dennis Bloem issued a statement saying that Ronnie Kasrils and Mosiuoa Lekota who were in cabinet at the time are adamant that the payment of R120 million to the African Diaspora Legacy Project was never discussed let alone ratified. Lekota said: “Never once was anything like this discussed in that cabinet. We didn’t know anything. If this was an honest thing, why didn’t they tell South Africa? There is no way we can say this was authorised by government. It is nothing else but a cover up for a bribe that was indeed a bribe.”
Former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, echoed his sentiments, and tweeted this weekend, “I was a member of LOC and don’t recall ever a discussion about donating 10M$ to a diaspora fund. Want full investigation – was it a bribe?”
A Google search produces the following from journalist Fiona Forde: “It was 1965 and Mosiuoa Lekota was earning a solid reputation on the soccer pitch at the Mariazell High School in Matatiele, a small town in the foothills of the western Drakensberg. The 18-year-old student from the Free State was an excellent striker, a skilful player who could attack as well as score. To his sports master, a Mr Mtshizana, he was terror incarnate. The name has stuck to this day.” If an ANC MP as interested in soccer as Lekota is was completely oblivious of the African Diaspora Legacy Project then it is telling. (But it is not just MPs who knew nothing about the alleged project – there is, apparently no mention of it in Hansard either!) Furthermore, South African soccer journalists are as fanatical, as committed and as knowledgeable as their counterparts elsewhere in the world. For them to ignore this project, as the ANC claims, is to accuse them of a grave dereliction of duty which is a completely unjustifiable slur.
What also cannot be doubted is that if the ANC had asked the SABC to send radio and television news and programme teams to Trinidad to produce reports on this initiative it would, given the extent which Luthuli House controls the state broadcaster, have immediately complied.
If the African Diaspora Legacy Project had not been a scam then surely the soccer world would have rallied behind it? Surely we would have seen YouTube clips of soccer-mad youngsters in Trinidad and Tobago, their faces beaming in ecstasy, describing in reverential terms how the posters on their bedroom walls had become real, how David had taught them how to bend it like Beckham, how Wayne Rooney had, to their awe, demonstrated his overhead scissors kick, how Renaldo had taught them how to soar above the tallest defenders, how Messi had demonstrated his mesmeric, Will-o’-the-wisp dribble which would have had George Best weeping with envy?
Is the reason these players did not go to Trinidad to promote the African Diaspora Legacy Project because they were not asked to because it does not exist?
No expense spared
I ask the question because when the ANC deems it necessary then no expense is spared in spending money to promote its cause. I recall looking with disbelief a few days before the April 2004 elections at a full page newspaper “obituary” lauding the achievements of Dullah Omar – who had died almost a month before. I also remember arriving at Cape Town airport in 2004 after the ANC, in coalition with the NNP, had gained control of the province, to be greeted at the luggage carousel by a giant mural of the new premier, Ebrahim Rasool, welcoming me to the city. Such advertising costs money – yours and mine. More recently, friends working for Eskom have told me of how the accountants at all its major projects, Medupi, Kusile, Ingula etc were told to shave millions from their budgets to fund the R43 million donation to the ANC-supporting New Age newspaper.
But not a cent spent, not a sentence written and not a government department available to promote the truly worthy African Diaspora Legacy Project and to promote South Africa’s image in the process?
How come? I ask the question because of what the BBC has now revealed – that not one of the millions of rands laundered into Jack Warner’s account at the specific and repeated request of Jordaan has gone to soccer development in the Caribbean and that the whole amount was siphoned off for his own use.
Can Jordaan direct South Africans to any official acknowledgement by the government of Trinidad and Tobago of this generous gift?
I am not in any way suggesting that the civil servants employed by the above-mentioned government departments or the many good people at Auckland Park were remiss in not giving publicity to the African Diaspora Legacy Project because they were clearly, and with malice aforethought, deliberately kept out of the loop.
Another puzzling aspect is why it was necessary it was necessary to route the money through FIFA in such a complex process. If the African Diaspora Legacy Project was legitimate and approved by cabinet why was treasury approval not obtained for SAFA to simply pay the money directly to Trinidad? The ANC has, after all, obtained treasury approval to pay hundreds of millions of rands to another Caribbean country, Cuba, and in 2010 wrote off Cuban debts of R1.1 billion.
Everyone concerned has denied corruption speculation with the traditional and ubiquitous “contempt it deserves” but that does not diminish a corruption-weary public’s cynicism nor the widening credibility gap which Jordaan faces as mayor of Port Elizabeth in the prelude to next year’s municipal elections.
As Athol Trollip of the Democratic Alliance and Jordaan’s main rival in the Eastern Cape wrote in to Jordaan in open letter: “You personally oversaw and led an organisation that is now irrefutably implicated in a major international bribery probe. It is confirmed on record, under oath in US Court papers.”
Aside from the fact that Jordaan did not travel to Zurich last month to vote in the FIFA presidential election and did not give his support to the sports minister at his recent press conference, his testimony is now being questioned by former LOC colleague, Molefi Oliphant. Oliphant told City Press last weekend that the letter which is now in the public domain was drafted by Jordaan and given to him to sign.
Then there is the small matter of the National Lottery making good the loss of the R120 million paid to Warner. The lottery has long been a trough for ANC cronies dishing out unconscionable amounts of money to relatives, friends and the politically connected while charities by the dozen closed their doors. Who authorised this payment, is there any documentation to support it or are the shredders working overtime?
As the anchor quote to this article reveals, countries all over the world are asking why money that was paid to FIFA was not ploughed into local soccer development. Hopefully the Daily Dispatch, the Herald and Carte Blanche can give us an overview on that question with specific reference to school and youth soccer development in the Eastern Cape and with specific questions in this regard being out to Danny Jordaan.
The whole theme of the 2010 SWC (as the SAFA statement points out) was Ke Nako – It’s Time to Celebrate Africa’s Humanity. FIFA brought the world’s top soccer writers to this country in the run up to the tournament (I was working in the media department of the Cape Town municipality at the time) and this would have been the ideal time to brief them about post-tournament benefits such as the African Diaspora Legacy Project – but nobody knew it existed.
As the Info Scandal (and Watergate) proved it is not the scam but the cover up that does the most reputational damage – will that prove to be the case in this instance?
Perhaps the saddest aspect of this debacle is that it has taken away our innocence and a lot of our pride. We wore the joy of this collective triumph on our sleeves and carried it in our hearts. That is dulled now.
The question that we are all asking, though, has already been posed by that most humble and self-effacing man, the man who personifies gravitas – Mbaks – and he posed it in a letter to former President Thabo Mbeki in April 2009.
“What happened to the pursuit of the founding ideals of the ANC, which the giants of our revolution who include Cdes Langalibalele Dube, Sol Plaatjie, Walter Sisulu, Moses Kotane, Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela and many others personified?”
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