It’s all a bit like Nkandla
AT AROUND the same time as Baleka Mbete, the Speaker of the National Assembly, was struggling with recognition and telling the opposition, “You wish”, in Parliament yesterday, Jerome Falcke, secretary general of Fifa, was doing a damn fine impression of the ad hoc committee on Nkandla in Pretoria.
Falcke, in the country to mark four years of the World Cup Legacy programme, spoke on the findings regarding the bids of Qatar and Russia, insisting they were above board. “Fifa didn’t clear Russia and Qatar, it was Ethics Committee, that’s important to note.”
Yes, but the Fifa’s Ethics Committee belongs to Fifa as much as the Nkandla ad hoc committee belonged to the ANC. The outcome was predetermined. The good news, someone sharp tweeted yesterday, is that Fifa have come to the conclusion that they are not, according to them, corrupt. The ANC have done the same thing.
Instead, it was the English, the staunchest critics of the bids of both countries, who found the spotlight turned on them for cosying up to Jack Warner of Concacaf with promises and the odd, well-laundered bribe.
A backhander remains a backhander, no matter if it is to pay for a dinner or cash stuffed into a wallet. It is, though, a distraction tactic by Fifa, much like the previous regime of Cricket South Africa orchestrated against Gauteng Cricket when they dared challenge them over the running of the 2009 IPL.
“It must be made clear that President (Sepp) Blatter did not violate the FCE (Fifa Code of Ethics). The one concrete allegation against the President, concerning an account purportedly held in his name at a US bank, was demonstrably false,” announced Fifa.
“Mr Blatter has implemented a number of critical reforms, including those that made this inquiry possible. The bidding process established by Fifa was for the most part fair and thorough, although the executive committee’s obligations in that process ... should have been made more explicit.”
It wouldn’t seem out of place to insert “Zuma” for “Blatter” and “bidding process” for “Nkandla”. Michael Garcia, who was appointed by Fifa to investigate the bidding race for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, has said that the report, written by a German judge who headed up the adjudicatory arm of the Ethics Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert, has misrepresented his conclusions.
“(It) contains numerous, materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions detailed in the Investigatory Chamber’s report. I intend to appeal this decision to the Fifa Appeal Committee.”
Good luck to him, but you can’t help but feel there are already people in the Fifa bunker seeking to brief their own Mbete to block and deflect, to refuse to recognise and to tell the world: “You wish”.