On the spot
It has been quite a hectic week for domestic football with accusations and counter-accusations flying thick and fast between the top administrators of the beautiful game in the country. The widely publicised feud between the Namibia Football Association (NFA) President, Frans Mbidi, and the association’s secretary-general, Barry Rukoro, has led to calls this week for the former to step down, or face a vote of no confidence. Mbidi, in this interview with Sports Editor, Carlos Kambaekwa, would however have none of it. Instead, he vowed to fight fire with fire.
Carlos Kambaekwa (CK): Mr Mbidi, the NFA Executive is planning to move a motion of no confidence against you. They accuse you of violations that bear negatively on the integrity of NFA. What’s your reaction to the latest unfolding saga?
Frans Mbidi (FM): [Laughs] That’s a joke. There is an element of misinterpretation about that clause [that allows a vote of no confidence]. A motion of no confidence should be preceded by a disciplinary hearing. They must institute charges against me if they think they have a case.
CK: It’s also said that you failed to convene meetings as per Article 34 (1) of NFA statutes stating that the Executive Committee shall meet at least four times a year, whereof there were only three meetings
FM: The reason why we could not convene the required quarterly meetings was simply because of insufficient funds at the organisation’s disposal. I tried to convene meetings but the accounting officer [Rukoro] advised me otherwise.
CK: The bone of contention has been your approach or rather handling of Rukoro’s contract extension. The dominant view among the executive members is that you have deliberately employed delaying tactics to avoid discussions over the renewal of the contract…
FM: As far as I’m concerned, Rukoro is no longer an employee of the Association since his contract has come full circle on the 31st of March 2018. I will not get into any further discussions on that matter – it’s a closed topic.
CK: It’s further claimed that you have failed to brief members of the executive about the outcome of your failed bid to land the vacant position on the FIFA Council, during the FIFA Congress in Bahrain, last year. It’s stated that you failed the pre-requisite FIFA Election Integrity Check, a scenario that places your ethical standing in question?
FM: It’s true I entered the race to run for the vacant FIFA Council post in Bahrain but my ambition was hamstrung by a technicality. To be honest with you, the panel asked about my involvement with (the) catering company International Facility Services (IFS) of which I’m a director. Sadly, in Eurocentric practices – such involvement constitutes a conflict of interest and that was it.
CK: There are question marks regarding your trip to the Women’s FIFA Football Symposium in Canada in 2015. It’s said that you altered your initial travelling arrangements, that saw you upgrading your flight from economy to business class without the approval of the executive. This has contributed to the association suffering losses amounting to N$90,000.
FM: What actually transpired is that I incurred vicious neck pains during an earlier long flight and could no longer afford to travel economy class on another marathon flight to Canada. I personally requested FIFA to upgrade me to business class because its standard practice within FIFA that all association presidents travel business class. I don’t’ know why FIFA resolved to deduct the difference from the NFA grant.
CK: It has been submitted that you used NFA funds to campaign for positions on COSAFA, CAF and FIFA executive committees, with the association coughing up the bills for air tickets, allowances and accommodation on these foreign trips, amounting to a violation of management responsibility…
FM: Somebody is being economical with the truth. I only undertook two trips with the secretary-general to South Africa on the invitation of the South African Football Association (SAFA) in Johannesburg. These trips were of great benefit to Namibian football since the primary objective was to foster closer links with member states, plotting for the downfall of Issa Hayatou.
CK: Could you please explain your role in the CAF payment of US$100,000 as additional allowance from funds FIFA Forward Programme. It’s claimed that NFA was directed by CAF that US$20,000 must go towards the expenses of the President. You are alleged to have abused your position by putting under pressure the NFA Secretariat to transfer the full amount ofUS$20,000 to your personal account while NFA takes care of your expenses.
FM: Let me explain to you how it works. The money under discussion is the annual grant of US$100,000 to each member association approved by the CAF Committee at its meeting in Manama, Bahrain, on the 6th of May 2017. That amount was to be divided as follows: US$50,000 for youth football, US$30,000 for the support of match official indemnities, while the remaining US$20,000 is solely for the president as compensatory allowance. I’ve even went as far as donating a portion of N$30,000 from that fund to women’s football.
CK: It’s said that you have wrongly or fraudulently drawn allowances for various non-NFA assignments, demanding NFA to take care of your allowances for assignments already paid for by CAF, COSAFA and FIFA. You are accused of having drawn double payments for the same tasks over a period of three-and-a-half years of your presidency.
FM: Why should that become an issue now – it has been standard practice with all travelling members of the associations. We received an “out of town” allowance of US$1,000 irrespective of your destination, on top of daily allowances from COSAFA, CAF or FIFA.
CK: Thank you for your time, and have a blessed day.
FM: My pleasure