On February 23 at the 33rd Ordinary General Assembly of Caf, held at the scenic Friendship Hall in Khartoum that overlooks River Nile, member countries met to deliberate on issues concerning African football.
The highlight of the assembly was elections for six Caf and two Fifa executive committee places. In attendance, like at all other Confederations assemblies around the world, was Fifa President Sepp Blatter, who sat next to Caf President Issa Hayatou.
Uefa boss Michel Platini and Asian (AFC) boss Mohamed bin Hammam were observers. Blatter and Bin Hammam are however keener on Fifa polls but I shall come back to that later.
The assembly was opened by Sudan President Omar Ahmed al- Bashir. After going through the normal business of roll call, reports from Hayatou, Caf General secretary Hicham El Armani, Finance Committee head Suketu Patel, approval of minutes of the last assembly held in Angola, Luanda in January, 2010 and Zonal Unions development documents (July 1, 2009- June 30, 2010) were read.
Hayatou then took the microphone to announce the next item on the agenda; first the elections of Caf Executive Committee members for the period 2011-2015. One-by- one representatives of the 53 Caf member countries lined up to cast their votes - first for the six Caf posts on the executive. Three members Tarek Bouchamaoui (Tunisia) from the Northern Zone, Almamy Camara of Guinea (West A) and Omari Constant of DRC (Central) were unopposed.
The three other zones went to polls; Kwesi Nyantaki of Ghana beat Hayatou’s favoured candidate Anjorin Moucharafou of Benin for the West B post while Cecafa chairman Leodegar Tenga (Tanzania) defeated another Hayatou confidant and incumbent Celestin Musabyimana (Rwanda).
Finally Kalusha Bwalya (Zambia) defeated three other contestants for Southern Zone slot. However, John Mulinjo (Namibia) alleged after the elections that he was approached by a person from the Caf top brass who told him he was not wanted by the Caf president. No wonder he got only five votes while Bwalya secured a massive 38. That was the first sign that only those in good books of the Caf top hierarchy would be elected. There were also allegations of envelopes changing hands.
Blatter v Bin Hammam
Was Danny Jordaan a victim of Blatter-Bin Hammam war ahead of Fifa Presidential elections in May? On February 22, a day before elections, South Africa Football Associations (Safa) organised a press conference to introduce Jordaan as a candidate for a Fifa Executive position.
They also announced that he was quitting the race for the Caf post. Jordaan then gave reasons why he wanted to stand for the Fifa post - that he wanted the Southern, Central and Eastern part of the continent to have representation. Then the floor was open to the press.
“Is it true that you are not on good terms with Hayatou?” asked a Cote d’ Ivoire journalist. Jordaan and the entire room were stunned. That was the first sign of what lay ahead for Jordaan. Jordaan down played the question but the damage and point was already done.
The South African 2010 World Cup chief said he was hearing the allegation for the first time as they organised the world’s biggest soccer event with Hayatou. “I need to move with you in order to get such information,” Jordaan answered.
The South African was widely seen as a Blatter ally and his election to the Fifa executive would have given the incumbent a boost for May Fifa elections.
Hammam, formerly Blatter’s right hand man, backed Algerian candidate Mohamed Rauouraoua. By doing so, he was laying foundation for Fifa elections.
Afterwards it emerged that Jordaan was an outsider among the five candidates, leaving Raouuraoua and Cote d’Ivoire’s Jacques Anuoma as favourites.
Rumours were now circulating in the delegates’ Al Salam Rotana Hotel that Jordaan was due to pull out of the race in the light of the campaigns.
Even his fellow South African Dr Molefi Oliphant, the outgoing Caf Vice President allegedly, told him he stood no chance. Oliphant being in the system knew the politics.
At that point Jordaan considered quitting the race but was urged not to do so by his campaign team.
One question remained unanswered. The Southern (Cosafa) and Central-East (Cecafa) between them had 24 votes but Jordaan got only 10 compared to Rauouraoua (39) and Anouma (35). It was a total humiliation for a man credited with staging a successful first World Cup in Africa.
Did Jordaan make a miscalculation or did he take voters for granted because of his World Cup exploits? Bad blood still exists between Hayatou and South Africa for financing Ismail Bhamjee of Botswana to stand against Hayatou during the Caf presidency elections in Tunis in 2004. Now Jordaan is considering going for the Caf presidency in 2013, but with new strategy of travelling across Africa to spread his massage.
“That is the price of democracy. A title does not make you an efficient or inefficient official. My commitment in football is very strong,” a disappointed Jordaan told me after. “But I will definitely be back. I am a football man, these things happen.”
On his election as a member of Caf executive Bwalya said: “It is a dream, from a ball boy, player, coach, FA president and now Caf executive member.”
Cecafa head, Tanzanian Tenga, said he knows the task at hand. “I will represent the region (Cecafa) and make contacts with other zones on the continent. My region expects me to deliver and not to gain because I am a member of the executive.”
Ghanaian Nyantakyi is relishing his new position: “It is an opportunity for me to serve Africa football. I believe I can add something to Africa and the game on the continent.”