Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
FIFA have entrusted COSAFA president Philip Chiyangwa with playing the role of mediator amid the chaos that has characterised the run-up to the SAFA elections whose drama reached another level on Tuesday as the man challenging for the presidency claimed he has been receiving death threats.
The polls are set for March 24.
Chiyangwa flew into Johannesburg, South Africa, yesterday afternoon in the company of Harare lawyer and ZIFA legal adviser Itai Ndudzo on a mission to broker peace following a nasty public fight that has emerged between incumbent SAFA president Danny Jordaan’s executive and presidential aspirant Ace Ncobo.
The former referee told the media on Tuesday he had been receiving death threats in his bid to challenge Jordaan.
“Recently I had to go and open a case because I have been receiving death threats from unknown people,” Ncobo claimed.
“I have been consistent in saying that as long as you are still calling me‚ it means you are not ready to kill me.
“Even if you succeed in doing so‚ I will be the happiest corpse in the mortuary because I would have stood for what is right. For the past nine months‚ I have been receiving e-mails‚ messages‚ calls from ordinary football loving people crying out for leadership.
“Danny Jordaan must move‚ he has done his part and he must go home.”
Jordaan, who is also a member of the CAF executive and successfully organised the first FIFA World Cup held in Africa, has secured 52 nominations from those who vote for the SAFA presidency while Ncobo, who is largely considered a spoiler, has received just one.
Jordaan is an overwhelming favourite to secure re-election.
And, in a move that underlines the ZIFA president’s growing reputation, and influence in the politics of the international game, Chiyangwa is expected to meet separately with the warring parties before trying to get them to smoke the peace pipe.
COSAFA are the biggest regional zone under the Confederation of African Football with 14 members and the SAFA elections, at which FIFA are also expected to supervise, are scheduled to take place during the association’s elective assembly.
The ZIFA boss confirmed his involvement in the mediation efforts, in his capacity as COSAFA president, shortly before his departure for Johannesburg yesterday and said it was imperative that the boardroom problems rocking SAFA, which are related to the elections, be resolved before they affect the game in that country.
“It is important that whatever problems there may be in SAFA or any member of COSAFA, CAF and FIFA for that matter be resolved amicably without having to affect the football on the pitches and that is what we are going to try and achieve in South Africa,’’ said Chiyangwa.
“South Africa are a key member of our football family. I am travelling with Ndudzo who is also a constitutional expert given that some of the key issues being raised are related to the constitutionalism of the electoral process and I am confident SAFA will be able overcome this challenge and the elections will be held without further problems.’’
The Harare businessman is also expected to proceed to Nigeria for some CAF business after his stop-over in South Africa.
Chiyangwa and Jordaan are also vice-presidents of the CAF Organising committee for the African Cup of Nations, which is headed by Nigeria’s Amaju Pinnick.
The ZIFA boss, who has had to also shake off a number of detractors who were challenging the legality of his stay in office beyond March 29 this year, will be on a diplomatic mission to quell a potentially volatile scenario in SAFA.
“Following our telephone conversation this morning, I wish to advise as I hereby do that I had a telephone conversation last night with Mr Veron Mba-Sego (FIFA representative in Southern Africa) regarding his attendance on behalf of FIFA at the AGM/SAFA,’’ Chiyangwa wrote to Jordaan.
“He wants some clarity on issues such as the Electoral body, and readiness of holding the elections and strict adherence to constitutionalism.
“And as we did agree, you are agreeable to my meeting with all parties vying for the Presidency and any other necessary persons who may assist in finding a plausible way forward, the first meeting is with you and your exco (executive committee).
“I am in Johannesburg till Thursday lunch time and by copy am advising my Secretary-general Ms Sue Destombes at COSAFA to contact Mr Ncobo (the presidential aspirant).
“I should be in SA just after lunch-time accompanied by a legal expert on football statutes (Ndudzo).’’
Despite the problems that have hit their house, SAFA have insisted the presidential elections will go ahead as scheduled on March 24.
The SAFA presidential elections have been rocked by all sorts of challenges with the latest being the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) deciding that it will no longer conduct the polls.
But SAFA have maintained the elections will proceed as scheduled despite the setbacks.
“On the 24th of March we will conduct the elections to elect the president for the next four-year tenure in accordance (with) our statutes.
“All these setbacks will not stop the inevitable fact that our Elective Congress will go ahead as planned,” SAFA sources told the media.
It was also reported that SAFA were set to take legal action against the IEC for withdrawing as the coordinators of the election process.
Ncobo disclosed contents of the IEC’s letter in which they declined SAFA’s request to conduct the elective congress as it is in conflict with the provisions of the SAFA statutes together with SAFA electoral code.
Ncobo feels FIFA should put SAFA under administration for the code of conduct which he claims the Association has breached over the years.
“One of the strictest articles in the FIFA statutes is that you must exhaust all the internal remedies that are available to you before you enter the courts‚“ he said addressing the media at FNB Stadium on Tuesday.
“We have consistently kept within the parameters of those prescripts and having written to FIFA means that we have exhausted all the internal remedies that are available to us.
“We await a response from FIFA whether or not they will implement the provisions of Section G, as I have outlined it‚” he said‚ adding that the matter may ultimately end up in court.
“Should FIFA fail to deal with this matter in terms of Section G‚ we will have no choice but to escalate the war because there is an election at FIFA next year and current president Gianni Infantino will be seeking re-election.
“When we go to court it will not be against SAFA‚ it will be against FIFA for not implementing its statutes.’’