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Home / Defiant Barry Rukoro waxes lyrical

Defiant Barry Rukoro waxes lyrical

2019-01-25  Otniel Hembapu

Defiant Barry Rukoro waxes lyrical

Out-of-contract Namibia Football Association (NFA) long-serving secretary-general Barry Rukoro (BR) appeared on NBC’s hard-hitting current affairs programme One on One this week with presenter Patrick Sam (PS) regarding a myriad of issues dogging Football House. Here is the transcript of their conversation.

PS: Barry, let’s start off with what the current status is when it comes to football and when it comes to the custodian body the NFA that is responsible for driving the development of football…there is a saying that says “when two elephants fight, the grass suffers”. What is your position on that in the context of football?
BR: Well, as you well know the executive committee of the NFA failed to organise the congress of the association where elections were to take place last December and that situation led to FIFA intervening and as such, FIFA have now decided to appoint a Normalisation Committee which will also serve as the electoral body for the upcoming congress. That process [appointment of Normalisation Committee] we are told will happen on 02 February, when the committee will formally be announced, so for now we keeping our fingers crossed as we are hearing names of individuals flying around…some of them very good names and some not very good names. But hopefully common sense will prevail and that a proper, well representing and reputable committee will be put together to steer the ship going forward into the elections. 

PS: That’s a great way of doing things going forward, but in history they say you have to know where you are coming from if you want to determine a greater course of where you are going and that’s why I am asking, how much has Namibian football suffered from the infightings between you and the president Frans Mbidi? to us about why your personal infightings are so far important than the development of football?
BR: [Laughs] I am a history student too and I believe that in order to pave the way forward one has to look back, and by saying that I want to make it clear here that the fight has never been between me and the president (Mbidi) but it has been between the president and the rest of the executive committee. The president took a unilateral decision which necessitated my removal from office but the rest of the executive did not agree. Well, one might say that I benefited from the division within the executive and maybe they could be right but I never cultivated the division, the division was cultivated by the one who took a unilateral decision on behalf of the executive without consultation.

PS: But that’s when you look at it from the inside and the internal politics of the whole thing but from the outside if you are a football lover and a supporter, one can see that there is an outcry from the public saying that Namibians do not agree with any of the factions but what they are passionate about is the development of football and that is what is suffering…and that’s the question around the legitimacy of either of the executives?
BR: And that is the problem with Namibians, people do not look at the process but they look at what they want. If they fail to address the process of how people are removed from office, regardless of which institution we are talking about, you are creating a national way of doing things wrongly and that is exactly what I stood against. And that is why I said I am not going anywhere until things are done properly!

PS: But at what cost Barry?  At the cost of cheques not being signed? At the cost of the national U/20 team not going to COSAFA? At the cost of the U/23 team not going to Olympics qualifiers? I mean sometimes you see people resign because they just want football to develop, why haven’t you done something like that? 
BR: You can raise all those things, but I was not the one that did not want to sign the cheques. The person who created all these conditions did not want to sign the cheques.

PS: But it seems there is a personality clash here Barry…you are now saying it’s not me, it was him and leads to finger-pointing?
BR: No, no!! I am not finger-pointing, I am raising facts here. At no stage did I decline to sign cheques, at all times I was doing my duties preparing teams to go and participate but there was only one person who did not want to sign cheques and that is the person Namibians and the media do not want to address…if both me and Mbidi did not want to sign cheques, then you have a point but if they are talking about not signing cheques, it was definitely not me. The fight could have been fought somewhere else and he could have continued signing the cheques.

PS: Quickly clarify the bone of contention here Barry, I mean you obviously supported Mbidi to become president of the NFA and then you guys had a fallout and now there are accusations of mismanagement which seems to be the order of business in football. What is actually the bone of contention here? Why is Namibian football suffering?
BR: My fight with Mbidi did not start when he became president, in fact he wanted me out of the association long before he became president and as a compromising individual, I compromised on many things. When Mbidi wanted to become president, he aired his ambitions to me and the group that previously supported John Muinjo (former NFA president), we all agreed and decided to move forward but that was without me knowing that Mbidi had not yet gotten over his ill-advised ideas of getting rid of me. You will not believe it but I became general secretary under Mbidi without a contract. But I continued doing my work with good faith believing that Mbidi will good on his promise that he will give me a contract but he did not. So at some stage I was suspended and then brought back and was eventually given a contract two years after Mbidi became president. Shortly after that, he wanted to get rid of me again for the second time, so I have never been an initiator of the crisis that we have…maybe it’s because of the fact that I carry, people think it’s me but I have never tried to fire Mbidi, have never undermined his authority but at all times Mbidi wanted to fire me.

PS: But when you talk about the bone of contention and on the other hand about the executive committee being against the leadership of Mbidi, there are instances where the executive’s resolutions were not supported, for instance their decision to remove Mbidi, which was not supported by FIFA and our local Sports Commission. So again it’s the culture of business in the NFA, either of the sides did not follow the constitution, why is there no regard for the constitutional frameworks that exist within the NFA?
BR: Let me put it this way, when you have a leader of an organisation who disregards an organisation’s constitution, these things will happen. In 2017 the executive committee complained about the president not calling executive committee meetings to take constitutionally-backed resolutions. Instead of having four meetings in 2017, the executive committee only had three meetings that year, and last year we only had two meetings instead of four meetings and as per our constitution, the president calls for executive committee meetings. 

PS: Now moving on Barry, we were just talking about the culture in which how football is managed in the country, we all know that your contract ended last December but you resumed work in January, what is the status of your employment at the NFA? Your contract was to be renewed at an elective congress but the congress was never held, so talk to us about that?
BR: Let me explain a few things to you, normally I do this at a cost but let me give your free education [Laughs]… there is only one way how a secretary-general of a football association is appointed and that is through the recommendation of the president and appointed by the executive committee, and is also only one way a secretary-general a football association is dismissed, it is only by a resolution of the executive committee. Now, my term of office has not come to an end and you would know that Mbidi gave me a contract that will expire when I turn 60 years of age, I am sure you have read about that in the media so forth. So, on the 2nd of June last year, I and the executive committee came to a compromise during a meeting in which Mbidi was also present. We agreed that because of all the confusion out there and the confusion in the contract which Mbidi gave me, we decided to agree on the middle way at that 02 June meeting. The compromise of that meeting was that my contract runs concurrently with that of the sitting executive committee until the elective congress in December (2018), at which the new executive committee will then take a decision as to what to do with me. So as we speak, the elective congress has not yet taken place.

PS: But tell us, why hasn’t the elective congress taken place? Doesn’t that signify the lack of leadership within the NFA, especially the fact that such an important event is yet to take place? 
BR: It is because Mbidi failed to call an executive committee meeting that was going to decide on the elective congress. He (Mbidi) failed to do that! There is no body or institution that can call congress, it is only the executive committee and the NFA statutes provide that the president is the only one to call for an executive committee meeting. So if the president fails to call for an executive committee meeting to decide on the congress, it is then the president who fails the executive committee and not the other way around.  

PS: So if the elective congress doesn’t take place, what then happens to your appointment as a consequence that the elective congress doesn’t take place?
BR: Again, the executive committee resolution said I will remain in office until the next elective congress takes place and that means until the next elective congress takes place, I am the legitimate secretary-general of the NFA. 

PS: But when will it take place?
BR: Good question! FIFA has come in with a Normalisation Committee which will organize the elections and they (Normalisation Committee) have been given a deadline of 31 May to complete everything, including the submission of its report and a new executive committee would have been in place by then. So, until such a time, I am the secretary-general of the NFA. 

PS: But it almost seems that you are now entitled to that position? It seems like it’s a lifelong appointment?
BR: I strongly believe in the saying that says “power perceived is power gained” and if people perceive me in whatever way, I am okay with that. If they say I am a witchdoctor or I have nine lives as they say, I will not say I am not or don’t have nine lives. So there is no issue of entitlement here, I came to the NFA looking for a job and was given the job. I am here because of a contractual agreement, nothing else.
*Transcription by Otniel Hembapu

2019-01-25  Otniel Hembapu

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