Ex-Safa CEO Mumble hits back: ‘Jordaan has emasculated the role of the CEO’

14 May 2021 - 08:33 By Marc Strydom
SA Football Association president Danny Jordaan (left) and then CEO Dennis Mumble during an announcement at Safa House, before Mumble left the organisation. File photo
SA Football Association president Danny Jordaan (left) and then CEO Dennis Mumble during an announcement at Safa House, before Mumble left the organisation. File photo
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Former SA Football Association (Safa) CEO Dennis Mumble has hit back at Safa president Danny Jordaan’s suggestion that the lack of implementation of certain development projects at the organisation was the fault of former CEOs.

In an interview with TimesLIVE in the wake of Bafana Bafana’s failure to qualify for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, Jordaan had been questioned about lack of implementation on certain projects he had promised since his election in 2013. One example was the nine satellites promised for Safa’s School of Excellence, of which one has been created in Durban.

In a story published on April 23 headlined, “Jordaan on Safa deficiencies: ‘Although the president gets blamed it’s not the president that does these things’”, Jordaan had suggested his ex-CEOs were at fault for such shortcomings.

Mumble recently broke his media silence since a hard-hitting 71-page report he authored to Safa’s national executive committee (NEC) was leaked early last year, and hit back in a strongly-worded statement sent to TimesLIVE titled, “Danny Jordaan’s Smoke and Mirrors”.

“In 2015, Fifa belatedly discovered just how detrimental it could be to have an all-powerful president whose decisions went largely unchallenged in an organisation whose leadership had become so complacent that it tipped the governance scale from accountability to sycophancy,” Mumble wrote.

“The reputational damage to Fifa ... resulted in Fifa reporting a financial loss of $369m for the 2016 financial year.

“Fifa responded by completely overhauling its governance structures to create stronger checks and balances through independent governance committees and an empowered CEO. The result was a spectacular turnaround that saw Fifa increase its financial support to its members around the world a year later and, although not perfect, a much more resilient governance structure holds the promise of greater accountability into the future.

“However, instead of learning from that sad chapter in its mother body’s history, Safa is deliberately speeding in the opposite direction, subjecting itself to the dictates of a mercurial president whose sole purpose is to entrench himself while some of the organisation’s prize jewels are backsliding into oblivion – Bafana Bafana’s recent failure to qualify for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations being emblematic of that backsliding.”

Mumble alleged that, rather than delegating to ex-CEO Mumble and ex-acting CEO Gay Mokoena, Jordaan centralised power around the presidency.

“Jordaan has completely emasculated the role of the CEO, reducing the position to the status of a mere clerk and appointed long-standing friends to head up key governance committees who have failed to hold him to account – despite numerous well-documented complaints of a presidency that routinely goes against the norms of good governance.

“Yet, despite the sorry state of affairs at Safa, Jordaan ... continues to evade responsibility for the numerous decisions he has taken that have led to the quicksand that Bafana Bafana is trapped in right now.

“Case in point, in an interview ... published in TimesLIVE on Friday, 23 April 2021, Jordaan intimated that Safa’s former CEOs were responsible for the absence of the nine provincial satellites for the association’s School of Excellence.

“Jordaan is known for governing with smoke and mirrors, talking one way, but with the outcomes routinely being different from his braggadocio and casting himself as the victim of conspiracies aimed at Safa.

“He famously claimed last year that Safa will report a huge surplus this year. But, he did not add that this would come at the expense of development since he wrote off the debt owed to Safa’s regions, without their consent, dumped the bulk of Safa’s highly trained technical personnel and retrenched other staff and saved money due to Covid-related inactivity. All this to show a tenuous profit, but at the expense of future development at the grassroots.

“The [TimesLIVE] article also quotes Jordaan as he painted a picture that true development in Safa only started when he became president in 2013 by suggesting that Vision 2022 started in 2014. The NEC lekgotla in Cape Town in January 2014 merely rehashed, at great cost to Safa, what had already been determined in 2012 (under a different president) by 200 of the country’s best football coaches.

“Such is the extent of the smoke and mirrors being flashed by Jordaan. There is a plethora of similar stories to be told, some already eloquently reported by another former CEO, Gay Mokoena.

“Similarly, he did not reveal to TimesLIVE in the above-mentioned interview that he unilaterally decided in September 2017 to send a delegation of football politicians to Spain to study the Spanish academy system – against the CEO’s [Mumble’s] strong objections.

“Eight provincial chairpersons went on a joyride to Spain (the ninth one missed the flight), with the Safa spokesman [Dominic Chimhavi] in tow, despite the CEO’s instruction that the Safa technical director [Neil Tovey] should accompany the delegation seeing that his objections to sending a political delegation was overruled. This came at a huge cost to Safa.

“Jordaan also failed to acknowledge that the idea of provincial academies was mooted as far back as 2012. Safa then established a special-purpose vehicle, the Safa Development Agency, to implement the comprehensive development plan, with Jordaan as the chairman for the past eight years. Ask Dr Robin Petersen, a former CEO of Safa. He was forced to revise these plans because of a lack of engagement by Jordaan himself as the head of that agency.

“The KwaZulu-Natal academy is a private entity, the result of hard work by Carlos Catalino and Gugu Marawa, and not a Safa initiative. Safa only came on board later to provide financial support through the [2010 World Cup] Legacy Trust.

“Such is the nature of the politicisation of technical matters in Safa that it has resulted in the current malaise that the country’s most popular national team finds itself in. The unravelling of Bafana Bafana comes from providing political solutions to technical problems with the instigators stubbornly refusing to even acknowledge this reality.”

Jordaan had said in the TimesLIVE article that Safa’s president does not “open academies”.

“We started Vision 2022 in January 2014 in Cape Town ... Now‚ also‚ we had to fix the financial problems in Safa‚ we had to fix the administrative problems in Safa‚ and we eventually found a CEO [Tebogo Motlanthe] who I think is doing an incredible job,” the Safa president said.

“Because although the president gets blamed it’s not the president that does these things. I don’t open academies‚ I don’t do these things.

“We say‚ ‘Here is the programme‚ it is the administration that must implement them’. And when the administration fails to implement‚ of course the buck stops with the president.

“And that’s why I’m saying we have‚ eventually‚ a CEO who understands the urgency of this issue.”

Safa was contacted for response to Mumble’s statement two weeks ago. Safa communications head Chimhavi committed to sending a written response, but asked for more time on several occasions. TimesLIVE eventually asked for the response by no later than Wednesday afternoon, which did not arrive.

Mumble and Mokoena had both penned bombshell reports to the NEC last year alleging abuse of office by Jordaan, which were leaked to the media.