Payment of R21 million to SAFA NEC members amounts to vote buying?

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is calling for the immediate reversal of the decision taken by the South Africa Football Association (SAFA) to award R20,8 million to 40 members its National Executive Committee as honorarium.

SAFA is in no financial position to make such an outlandish financial ‘gift’ to a bloated committee that, frankly, did not accomplish much in the past two years due to Covid-19 restrictions.

It is highly suspicious that, on the eve of SAFA elections in June, NEC members are given a financial ‘bonus’ amounting to R520 000 for each member. This can easily be construed as a deliberate interference with the election process designed to keep NEC members ‘onside’.

Instead of working to rationalise the bloated NEC Executive, as recommended by FIFA, SAFA has chosen to retain the status quo and maintain it through questionable ‘honorarium payments’. South African football is beset by systemic challenges which SAFA has failed to address and this makes the financial ‘gifts’ to NEC members highly irregular.

The DA is fully aware that SAFA is protected from government interference by FIFA statutes but this does not mean that they can play fast and loose with taxpayers’ money. Just like all other sporting codes in South Africa, SAFA receives grant funding through the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, as such, it is imperative they exercise probity in the use of public funds.

Not too long ago, it was reported that funding to national teams by SAFA had been reduced by almost 50%. South Africans cannot be blamed if they find it hard to compute how their perennially underperforming national teams are receiving less and less funding while administrators are going home with tens of thousands of rand for no discernible reason.

The prevailing culture of impunity at SAFA cannot be allowed to continue while the performance of our national football teams remain dismal. Accountability should begin with the cancellation of plans to pay R21 million to SAFA’s NEC members.