Johannesburg - Fired Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba has received support from an unlikely source when ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe spoke out and expressed his disappointment at the coach’s sacking.
“What are we going to do with the expulsion of Mashaba? It cannot be right. It cannot be right that Mashaba is fired. I do not support that action‚” Mantashe was quoted as saying by TimesLIVE.
The beleaguered coach was part of the ANC’s festivities in Vilakazi Street in Soweto, where President Jacob Zuma addressed the crowd on Friday, ahead of Sunday's birthday celebration at Orlando Stadium.
The sacking of Mashaba could hit the SA Football Association (Safa) in the pocket for a second time.
Four years ago, Safa paid out a few million rands to former Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane after terminating his four-year contract, worth a reported R1 million a month.
Mosimane had two years left on his agreement when he was axed, following the South African squad’s failure to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012.
Now Mashaba may also find joy at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
This is not the first time the former coach and Safa have crossed swords.
The CCMA ruled in favour of Mashaba against Safa in 2004 and awarded him a settlement of R2.3m.
Mashaba had taken on Safa in a bid to be reinstated after he was suspended on the eve of the Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia. The two parties eventually agreed on a settlement.
Given that Mashaba’s current contract was supposed to end after the 2018 Fifa World Cup – set to take place in Russia from mid-June to mid-July – Safa may be forced to compensate him should he win his case.
However, first prize for Mashaba would be to go back to his coaching job and lead Bafana to Russia next year.
Claudio Bollo, Mashaba’s legal representative, believes the relationship between his client and his employer is not beyond repair and could still be mended.
Bollo confirmed that papers would be lodged with the CCMA for Mashaba’s reinstatement on the grounds of unfair dismissal.
The Bafana coach experienced a bleak Christmas after he was sacked on December 22.
Bollo told City Press on Friday that he and his client believed they had a strong case and were confident the commission would rule in their favour.
He said they would consider opting for compensation should their reinstatement request fail.
“We believe the relationship can still be repaired as he [Mashaba] has a good understanding with the players and his technical team,” said Bollo.
“His job does not require daily interaction with the board of Safa. Hence, we say the relationship is easy to fix.”
He was quick to add that Mashaba bore no grudges against Safa and was willing to build a bridge.
“But, as in any litigation, we will go there with open minds. If we feel there is a need to settle for compensation, then we could do so.
“But the first prize is for him to get his job back.”
Bollo said Mashaba wanted to be in Russia next year.
“He has set his sights on the World Cup because it is every coach’s dream to be there,” he said, adding that there was no need for Safa to rush into employing another coach while they were still fighting his dismissal, given that the next Bafana Bafana match would be played only in August.
This after Safa’s chief executive, Dennis Mumble, said the association’s search for a new coach would go ahead, despite Mashaba’s CCMA case.
“We believe they do not have a case against our client because they used off-the-record content to advance their case,” said Bollo.
“There was a slight argument and a normal disagreement, but that cannot be used as a case.”
Mumble did not return messages left on his phone by City Press.