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Ria Ledwaba explains why she went to court to try to stop Safa elections

08 June 2022 - 19:33 By Marc Strydom
Safa vice-president Ria Ledwaba.
Safa vice-president Ria Ledwaba.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Ria Ledwaba says she tried to resolve her objections to “the manner and procedure in which the SA Football Association (Safa) constitution was amended” internally at Safa, but was stonewalled in her efforts to take the matter to arbitration.

Safa vice-president Ledwaba, cleared this week by the governance committee to contest the presidency against incumbent Danny Jordaan and Safa Tshwane president Solly Mohlabeng, has gone to the Pretoria high court to try to interdict the June 25 elections. The matter will be heard on Tuesday, TimesLIVE is informed.

Ledwaba is alleging irregularities in amendments made to the constitution at a March 26 Safa congress, and that these were aimed at favouring Jordaan as he seeks a third term.

The association has responded, based partly on a letter sent to it by the Confederation of Football (Caf) this week asking that the national body ensures its members adhere to fair play, that Fifa and Safa statutes do not allow recourse in football matters at courts.

“As a candidate I have serious concerns of violation of our own statutes,” Ledwaba said, asked about the court application as she addressed a press conference to confirm her candidacy at FNB Stadium on Wednesday.

Ledwaba said she wrote a letter of complaint to Fifa on her objections to the constitutional amendments, but received a response from Caf only, and not the global body.

She said she attempted to take a protest to arbitration internally at Safa.

“I have lodged my dispute with the association, and I have been denied an opportunity to address those internally,” Ledwaba said. “I am going to compile those letters and I will send them with the response so you [the media] can judge for yourself.

“I was told, ‘We don’t know where you want your dispute [heard]’. I responded, ‘Let me tell you: take it to arbitration’.

“I did not get an answer. I called and asked, ‘What is happening with my arbitration?’

“They said, ‘You are not in compliance ... because you did not pay the fee'. I answered, ‘I would have expected you to contact me and say now pay, this is the account number’.

“I paid. After paying I got a letter — ‘No, we are not going to deal with your arbitration because with the things you are raising you should have objected about in the congress’.

“The statutes are very clear — any person can lodge a dispute and decide where they want it to go. And if the arbitrator feels it should not come, it must be the arbitrator, it can’t be the candidates.

“So I can’t go to arbitration. Where else can I go?

“A second letter says I can got to the Court of Arbitration for Sport [in Switzerland].”

Ledwaba said she did not raise an objection in the congress because she is a national executive committee (NEC) member.

“If you are an NEC member and want to raise a matter, you raise it in the NEC, because you are not a member of the congress.”

Jordaan has denied manipulation of the constitution to entrench himself and the current NEC, and said Safa “will have to wait for the court processes to be finalised to speak on the matter”.