Johannesburg - The race to become the president of the South African Football Association (Safa) looks likely to turn into an all-out war.
Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana, who is up against current president Danny Jordaan, has fired the first shot by saying the association needs to be audited.
The former Safa vice-president said he did not believe the results of the financial report tabled by the association at last month’s meeting.
Mismanagement of funds
Safa last month reported a R23.1 million profit after a R45 million deficit in the previous financial year.
Nonkonyana said: “The association had a loss that year and, all of a sudden, we are told that they have got millions worth of a turnaround".
He said he had no doubt that the audit would uncover lots of irregularities and mismanagement of funds.
“When I left the association, there was a lot of money from the 2010 World Cup Legacy Trust that was supposed to go towards development, but regions have not seen that [money],” he said.
“There is no way we can have an overnight turnaround, which is why I’m saying we need an audit. All I am calling for is transparency.
“When you issue finance reports, you don’t give them to people for one night, but over a period of time so they can scrutinise them. My finance gurus are on it and we are going to tell you the truth".
Nonkonyana said he was not fazed by what he called “dirty tricks”.
He was suspended in October 2013 after saying in interviews that former Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund should quit if the national team failed to reach the finals of the African Nations Championship.
Going to react
He was eventually dismissed in October 2014 following a unanimous decision by Safa’s congress.
Nonkonyana challenged his dismissal and said he was awaiting a Johannesburg High Court decision on the matter.
He claimed there was a plot to dissuade people from challenging the association’s current leadership.
“Dirty tricks are part of the game. I have been there and I know it.
“There is some mud-slinging that might come my way, but I am ready for whatever they throw at me,” Nonkonyana said.
“If this war is going to be dirty, I am going to react and fire missiles. I will fight fire with fire. As a chief, when I go to war, I prepare my warriors and we are now ready for anything that comes our way. I have got scud missiles and I will release them one by one.
“I’m calling for a fair campaign and a change for the better. I have been tested and believe I am capable of bringing that change. I am everybody’s chief; whether you like me or not, I’m still your chief".
Safa chief executive Dennis Mumble laughed off Nonkonyana’s allegations and claimed they were borne of ignorance.
“He has not been in football for three years and has no clue about the association’s finances.
“We wonder if he has even read the report, or whether he simply threw it out there to besmirch the association’s reputation,” said Mumble.
He said the association’s finances had been audited and unanimously approved by Safa’s congress last month.
“Our finances are also managed by Ernst & Young, and we take exception to the allegation that our valued partner might be cooking the books,” he said.
“We will take legal action to protect Safa’s reputation and integrity. Our audited financial statements are on the Safa website for scrutiny by anyone who wishes to examine them".
Mumble said Safa had also reported these results on many occasions over the past few months and explained how the turnaround was achieved.
“There was no CAF Futsal Championship, which cost about R18 million, and no Rio Olympics, which cost about R30 million.
“There was deep cost cutting, savings on salaries and significant income from CAF and Fifa. The SAA sponsorship also helped".
Safa maintained that Nonkonyana was not eligible to run for president because he was expelled from the association.
“He cannot even be involved in Safa structures anywhere, at any level. His nomination will not be accepted, finish and klaar".