Hon­esty is still the best pol­icy

Pretoria News Weekend - - SPORT -

WHEN it comes to ac­count­abil­ity, you can ei­ther be a Judge Nkola Mo­tata or Jack­son Mthembu. The prob­lem though with the lead­er­ship of South African foot­ball is that there are too many “Mo­tatas” and very few “Mthem­bus”.

Let me ex­plain. Firstly let’s start with why I brought these gentle­men up. Mo­tata and Mthembu were both found guilty of drunk-driv­ing, but how they han­dled their cases sets them apart from one another.

Mthembu was found guilty of drunk-driv­ing and was more than three times over the le­gal driv­ing limit and was slapped with a R12 000 fine, half of which was con­di­tion­ally sus­pended for a year.

The ANC chief whip pleaded guilty to the charge, co-op­er­ated with the po­lice at the scene, owned-up to his mis­take, apol­o­gised and took the pun­ish­ment on the chin. The whole case was quickly wrapped up be­cause he was ac­count­able for his crime.

Mo­tata’s case on the other hand dragged for years de­spite there be­ing pic­tures and au­dio ev­i­dence of him slur­ring his words af­ter he crashed his Jaguar into a wall of a Hurling­ham prop­erty in Johannesburg.

Mo­tata’s rep­u­ta­tion was dragged through the mud in a case that gave dif­fer­ent mean­ing to “sober as a judge” af­ter he in­sisted that he only had tea be­fore ad­mit­ting he had a bot­tle of wine with a col­league be­fore the crash. He was found guilty, and had to choose be­tween ei­ther pay­ing a R20 000 fine or spend­ing a year in prison.

Mo­tata is con­stantly ref­er­enced as the “drunk­driv­ing judge” be­cause he chose to fight a los­ing course – flex­ing his le­gal mus­cles, which he has a right to do – in­stead of com­ing clean and be­ing ac­count­able for what he did wrong.

I thought of Mo­tata and Mthembu af­ter read­ing about Sta­dium Man­age­ment chief ex­ec­u­tive Jac­ques Grobbe­laar su­ing Power FM’s Thabiso Mosia for defama­tion. Grobbe­laar and his le­gal team ar­gue that Mosia was “ag­gres­sive and an­tag­o­nis­ing” in an in­ter­view he did with the CEO fol­low­ing the death of two peo­ple at FNB Sta­dium in the Car­ling Black La­bel Cup in July. All I heard from that in­ter­view was a jour­nal­ist hold­ing an ad­min­is­tra­tor ac­count­able af­ter two lives were lost and many in­jured in an in­ci­dent that ex­posed short­com­ings in the se­cu­rity.

I re­mem­ber how Grobbe­laar, the spon­sors, Johannesburg Metro Po­lice and a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial cau­cused for what felt like for­ever at the FNB Sta­dium au­di­to­rium be­fore ad­dress­ing the me­dia on the day of that in­ci­dent. Grobbe­laar read a state­ment and we were told they would not be tak­ing any ques­tions. We had to in­sist on ask­ing ques­tions as the state­ment didn’t fully ad­dress ev­ery­thing, like “Why did the game con­tinue af­ter the deaths?” as the news was con­firmed early into the match and if a risk as­sess­ment was done with the sold-out sta­dium that’s a night­mare to ac­cess in big events, half-empty min­utes be­fore kick-off.

Al­most three months later, no one has been held ac­count­able for those deaths. The Premier Soc­cer League (PSL) an­nounced last month that the in­quiry into the events at the match be­tween Kaizer Chiefs and Or­lando Pi­rates had been dis­con­tin­ued in light of the Min­is­ter of Sport and Re­cre­ation, Thu­las Nx­esi, in­sti­tut­ing a min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee of in­quiry. Per­haps that com­mit­tee will hold those in the wrong ac­count­able, but I am not hold­ing my breath.

Lack of ac­count­abil­ity has be­come some­thing of a cul­ture in the coun­try in al­most ev­ery sphere. In­stead of lead­ers be­ing ac­count­able, they threaten those who have a duty to hold them li­able for their short­com­ings. The sad part about this in­ci­dent at FNB Sta­dium is that it re­flects badly on the treat­ment of the No. 1 stake­hold­ers in foot­ball, the fans. It should be a mat­ter of na­tional im­por­tance and han­dled dili­gently be­cause with­out fans sport is noth­ing.

But then again we are still wait­ing on ac­tion to be taken on the fans who ran amok last sea­son at Lof­tus Vers­feld in Mamelodi Sun­downs’ 6-0 drub­bing of Or­lando Pi­rates. That in­ci­dent is one of three that hap­pened last sea­son and no ac­tion was taken. The other two in­volved clashes be­tween Pi­rates and Bloem­fontein Celtic fans at Or­lando Sta­dium, and Celtic fans al­legedly go­ing on a ram­page af­ter a loss to Wits at Dr Petrus Molemela Sta­dium.

Own­ing up when you erred is not only a sign of lead­er­ship but also the first step to im­prov­ing on the mis­takes you made. Some of the prob­lems we have in our game are due to the re­fusal to own up and learn from our short­com­ings.

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