OPINION: Never again! by Sibongiseni 'Teko' Zondi
Posted: 16 March 2017 Time: 16:31
News of the end of Issa Hayatou's reign as CAF president was music to the ears of Sibongiseni Zondi, who has renewed hope for the future of African football.
In April 2016 I wrote on this very platform an opinion piece encouraging continental and national football associations to take up the steps that had recently been taken by FIFA in reforming. The biggest of those reforms of course was limiting the President’s term to three terms of four years.
Sepp Blatter had been FIFA President for 17 years and football resolved that never again would this happen. While that was a good move, the onus then fell on continental and national associations to do the same with their own leaders’ terms in office. Today, CAF finally ended a marathon 29-year reign by Issa Hayatou and Ahmad Ahmad’s victory was as resounding as it can get, 34 votes to Hayatou’s 20.
As Hayatou leaves office, marking a new dawn for African football, lessons should be learnt. Never again should anyone sit as CAF President for three decades. Never again should any national association President to get anywhere near that. In my own country of Swaziland, Adam ‘Bomber’ Mthethwa has been at the helm of Swazi football since 1993, save for the three years in the early 2000’s when he had been replaced by one Patrick Kunene.
The NFAS elections will be held later in the year and the signs are Mthethwa, who has sometimes won unopposed, is set for another victory to extend his 21-year reign. The truth though is that his time is up. Twenty-one years is unbelievably too much. He should have never returned after his first spell ended.
Football in Africa needs fresh ideas. The effect of the reforms will never be felt if they happen at FIFA only. What is the use of limiting the FIFA president’s term but having people like Mthethwa stay in charge for 20+ years? We need reform right across the board. African football has so much potential. It just needs dedicated people to work on that potential and take our beautiful game to the next level.
Twenty-nine years should never happen again. Twenty-one years should never happen again. Never again should our football be enslaved for the enrichment of a few. Never again!