Response to City Press Article Dated 01 December 2013

Where there is smoke, certainly there is fire! Indeed the South African Football Player’s Union (SAFPU) is grappling with challenges that confront the union as it navigates its way around the responsibilities and expectations from its members. As you grow up, you need to adjust to new responsibilities, and SAFPU is not immune to this. Our pains of growing up are in no way a crisis nor a sign that we are “falling apart”. We are as strong as ever, and for the rights of our members who are professional players in the Premier Soccer League and the National First Division, we will stop at nothing to ensure that their mandate from our recent congress held in June 2013 are met.

We have identified our problem, and we are dealing with it head-on. Our problem is Cappy Matutoane. Matutoane was until recently the National Organiser of SAFPU. On the 8th November 2013 we served Matutoane with a suspension in order for him to answer charges against him through a due process that is a disciplinary hearing. On the 11th November 2013, the SAFPU Office Bearers gave Matutoane an opportunity to persuade them to drop his suspension, but after that engagement the Office Bearers upheld the decision to suspend Matutoane because he had a case to answer through a disciplinary hearing. Instead of defending himself, Matutoane has jumped ship and he resigned from SAFPU as the National Organiser on the 26th November 2013.

You see, where corruption rears its ugly head, strong leadership must take decisive action. If we fail to act, we are then putting SAFPU in disrepute. A SAFPU in disrepute is a useless and toothless tool that cannot defend its members and meet their expectations. To put matters into perspective, as a National Organiser of a union, you have direct access to the membership as you engage with them on a regular basis. But this is not for your selfish and personal interest; this access is for the benefit of the organization. It is a position of responsibility, and because of this the leadership must keep into check those whom it deploys into this position. In his resignation, Matutoane has stolen files of players that he was representing on behalf of SAFPU.

We will open a case of theft against him to return these assets of SAFPU. We have also notified the PSL and SAFA that Matutoane should and cannot represent players in the dispute chambers as he is no longer with SAFPU. Cappy Matutoane joined SAFPU in 1997 when a gallant and visionary man, Nganzawe Mqwathi (may his soul rest in eternal peace) engaged and mobilized players like John Moeti, Doctor Khumalo, Roger De Sa, John Goodwin, Themba Sithole, Chris Fortuin and Mike Rapatsa that a time had come in the life of South African football for the players to have a voice. Matutoane was elected as one of the office bearers during that period in 1997. Matutoane together with Mqwathi had union experience (both coming from POPCRU) although they did not play football at a professional level.

At the time, it was necessary to ensure a blend of football lived experience and union experience. In Cappy’s head, he started SAFPU and therefore he can do as he pleases at SAFPU. This assertion is dangerous to the extreme and cannot be tolerated longer than it has been. The current leadership of SAFPU, led by Simba Marumo, Tsepo Ntsoane, Tebogo Munyai, Nhlanhla Shabalala, Gordon Maseko and myself Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe has learned enough about running a union to stop anyone, including Matutoane from messing up with the mandate of SAFPU. We have played this game of football, and our experiences in other areas of life have prepared us well enough to exercise leadership. Matutoane’s manipulation ends here and it ends now. Football is bigger than any one individual.

Why did we suspend Cappy Matutoane? We suspended him because he is colluding with team owners at the detriment of the football players. In his view, because we have assigned him the role of the Organiser thus giving him access to engage with the players who are members of SAFPU he thinks he owns the union. We suspended Matutoane because he colluded with the owners of Roses United who upon seeking to sell the status of the team, tried to rob the players who were contracted to the team their benefits. These players had not received salaries for months and still contracted to Roses FC, his intention was to convince the players to get two months settlement, safe to say the union played an important role in ensuring that the players get a fair share of their contracts.

We are grateful to Roses players who brought this act of corruption to the attention of the union and also a special mention must be made of former Roses United coach, a former professional player Harold “Jazzy-Queen” Legodi who supported all those players during difficult times. Upon the complaint by 22 players, we acted by suspending Matutouane so that he could answer and he did what his type do when faced with such situations – they resign and avoid to face the music from their acts of corruption. Since we have suspended Matutoane, he has gone on an offensive and rubbished SAFPU, but we remain resolute. We have challenges yes, but we are equal to the task and we will overcome.

Matutoane has of late teamed up with the likes of Lovers Mohlala who are hell bent of discrediting the union. Using the media to fight for corruption to take place unabated cannot be tolerated. At this point it is important to note that in 2011, SAFPU suffered a huge blow when Tebogo Mophaleng, the then Secretary General resigned after he embezzled funds of players that were negotiated by SAFPU on behalf of these players from Bay United FC and Winners Park FC. Mophaleng found himself in a mess due to being misled by Matutoane who hoodwinked him to open a personal account where these funds due to the players were transferred and the money was shared between the two and the players received peanuts. SAFPU is currently dealing with this matter, and a criminal case is being pursued to recover the funds due to the players and establish the extent of the involvement of both gentlemen. The current SAFPU leadership would not in any way allow Matutoane to run the union amok and rob players their hard-earned cash. The likes of Cyril Nzama, Adebayo Abayomi, Gift Sithole, Eddie Ngalo and the list goes on want their money as they earned it. What is due to the players must be returned.

As recently as June 2013 during the SAFPU Congress, Matutoane tried to capture the union by spreading lies amongst our members about challenges that SAFPU was faced with. In his corridor talk, he tried to influence the players to remove the former leadership and put him at the helm as the General Secretary given his immense union experience and for the fact that he is the founder office bearer of SAFPU where he was the General Secretary in 1997. But he forgot to tell these players that SAFPU stripped him of this responsibility and installed John Moeti because he, Matutoane, was found guilty of embezzling union funds. SAFPU has tolerated Matutoane and his malicious ways for a long period, and the time had come for decisive action. The players at Congress on their own, saw him for what he was and taught him a lesson he will never forget. Football players are not fools as Matutoane and his ilk think, these are men who have the capacity to reason.

As the SAFPU leadership, we regret no part of our taking action against Matutoane. When SAFPU experienced challenges with regards to securing sponsorship for the staging of congress in June 2013, we dug deep into our coffers to stage the congress, and we kept staff informed of the developments including Matutoane. The union would have used its reserve during this time which had a cash flow impact in the months following the congress. Our cash flow has normalized and our staff members are paid on time every month including Matutoane until he resigned. What really caught us unaware as the leadership is when Matutoane made ridiculous demands that SAFPU should pay him R500 000-00  and give him 2 cars as his resignation package. We told him to jump to the nearest lake as this will never happen during our watch.

We have noted with disappointment that Matutoane has gone on the offensive and has rubbished SAFPU through using the media. We also note that upon his resignation from SAFPU through the media, he says he will form a rival union. We wish him all the best in his money making venture and promise that he will find SAFPU intact with his union should he go ahead and form it. SAFPU is intact because it’s a democratic organization that welcomes different views and its leadership is mature enough to find common ground and push issues that benefit the players. Marumo and Gaoshubelwe also have strong leaders, as Ntsoane, Munyai, Maseko and Shabalala who keep them on their toes and ensure that what is being served are the interests of SAFPU and not those of the leadership.

The June 2013, the fourth congress made constitutional amendments that changed how the National Executive Committee (NEC) meetings are to be called. These amendments also made clear that SAFPU must establish Provincial structures which should lead to nominations of duly elected and mandated provincial leadership that must attend the NEC meetings. We are busy working on developing these structures and when we are done as mandated by congress, we will call NEC meetings as required by the SAFPU Constitution. SAFPU is not a one-man show, it is a union that represents the interests of the players and has recognition agreements with SAFA, the NSL (representing both the PSL and NFD) and the global union of football professionals (FIFPro).

These structures support us, and they guide us as well because they understand that as former professional football players, we have a lot to learn. We do fight with the NSL, with SAFA and with other stakeholders, but our fights are premised on seeking justice and only the best for our members.

As we conclude, we must point out that SAFPU has made great strides to serve the needs and interests of the members. These include but is not limited to setting up an education trust to look after the post-retirements needs of the players. We have a collective bargaining agreement with the NSL and SAFA and this gives us much power to negotiate conditions of services for our members. We have established Show Me Your Number, and NGO that plays a pivotal role in the HIV prevention space and it is leading the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) Sport, Arts & Culture sector. We have partnership with Liberty where we are dealing with financial wellness and education for our members. We receive a grant from the PSL that enable us to serve our members. We want this grant to be increased so that we can do more and we have ongoing discussions with the PSL about this. This is a SAFPU hard at work and without corrupt prone people like Cappy Matutoane, SAFPU will be a better organization. He has overstayed his welcome at SAFPU, having been here for 16 years, and that is too long a time at one place! We don’t intend to overstay as well, but we want to use the time afforded to us to build a stronger SAFPU for generations to come. All of these are in pursuit of better welfare of South African Football Players.