Yarukeekuro Steven Ndorokaze
We are reminded that ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same.’ This week is pregnant with great anticipation as the Namibia Football Association (NFA) prepares for the election of its new leadership, coming three and a half years after Christiaan Lilongeni Ranga Haikali and company took charge at the ‘White House of Namibian Football’, a process midwifed by the January 2019 NFA Fifa Normalisation Committee.
However, his reign was short-lived, with his lieutenants showing him the door out of Richard Kamuhuka Street in August 2021, only 18 months into their tenure.
This led to the dissolution of the NFA Executive Committee and the appointment of the second NFA Fifa Normalisation Committee (NC) in March 2022, barely two years since the football leadership assumed office.
So we are back to February 2020, albeit with varying dynamics, like nothing happened in the last 44 months. Is that Namibian football’s wasted period?
Like with every dark cloud, there have been a few silver linings, with Namibia set to return to the African Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast early next year and narrowly missing out on first place in the Cosafa Cup to Zambia last year. Much of which the second NC must take credit for.
In fact, they look set to tick off most, if not all, of their stated tasks, which included running the daily affairs of the NFA, restructuring the NFA administration, ensuring a proper financial handover to the new NFA leadership, reviewing the NFA statutes, and overseeing the election of a new NFA Executive Committee.
The first three items are very focused on the company itself, making them hard to judge from afar.
However, it is hoped that policies and procedures have since been put in place for things like hiring, purchasing, and delegating authority.
Also, any debts that were reported must have been fully settled, or payment plans must be in place for any debts that still exist. This makes the chairman’s report to Congress on Friday a must-read to get a sense of the progress on these points.
With the election of the new NFA Executive Committee, now to be known as the NFA Executive Council, set for tomorrow, the point that sticks out is the review of the NFA Statutes.
The remainder of my submission will focus on the new NFA statutes, which were adopted at an Extra-Ordinary Congress on 14 October 2023.
If this were a tick-box exercise, the second NC would have scored full marks on this point; however, in my view, the jury remains out until the changes effected deliver the expected outcome.
I am not sure what Fifa spotted as anomalies with the previous NFA Statutes and hence requiring revision, which at this point makes it almost impossible to get comfort or otherwise from the changes made to the principal governing document of the NFA.
While that remains, I will highlight a few observed amendments that the special sitting of the NFA membership agreed to about a month ago, which by no means will be an exhaustive expedition.
As pointed out earlier, the strategic and oversight bodies will now be referred to as the Executive Council and no longer the Executive Committee. At face value, this change seems very cosmetic and does not appear to usher in any particular new
However, that body has been marginally reduced from 11 members to nine members, with just one Vice President position as opposed to the previous two Vice Presidents, who appeared to have just occupied extra space.
A significant beneficiary of the amendment to the NFA Exco composition is the chairperson of the Namibia Women Football Association, who now will become an automatic member of the NFA Executive Council. Certainly, there must be casualties.
Well, those are the Chairperson of the Namibia Premier Football League and the Representative of the three streams of the Nationwide First Division, who now will have to battle it out for a seat on the football leadership gang of nine.
When compared to the December 2020 NFA Statutes, the number of Congress delegates has increased from 20 to 25, while the total number of possible votes has expanded to 23 from 15. The Women’s Soccer League will now send six delegates, each with a vote—a first of its kind. The new additions are the Futsal and Beach Football Associations, each with two delegates but a solitary vote per association.
The Referees Association, Players’ Union, and Coaches Association no longer have representation at the NFA supreme decision-making body.
The new NFA Statutes have watered down the powers of the President in the appointment of the General Secretary, and the President may now only propose a candidate on the recommendation of an Ad Hoc Independent Committee or a Consultant, in line with Article 39 (7) read together with Article 41 (3). This was previously reserved for the president exclusively.
There is a specific reference to the application of the Namibian labour law to this appointment; therefore, the question of whether the General Secretary is an employee or not does not arise. However, the President retains the magical casting vote if the Executive Council is at loggerheads.
Article 63 of the December 2020 NFA Statutes compelled the NFA to create an independent Arbitration Tribunal to ‘deal with all internal national disputes’ between the NFA, its members, officials, or players.
The corresponding provision in the new statutes is Article 62, which is completely mute on the establishment of an Arbitration Tribunal by the NFA.
The new statutes do not seem to provide guidance on how disputes that are not of a disciplinary or ethical nature are to be resolved. The Arbitration Tribunal was a major miss regarding the well-documented NFA impasse with the then Namibia Premier League (NPL).
The absence of an arbitration tribunal possibly led the NPL to the High Court of Namibia en route to the Supreme Court, a repeat of which should be avoided at all costs, as it is a grave contravention of the statutes.
The Emergency Committee has been retained, and it is not clear how effective it has been in making urgent decisions because, without that substantiation, it looks like a pedestrian platform, not aiding timely decision-making.
There are still several references to the second vice president, which must just be deleted, as that position no longer exists. The list of noted changes can continue, but that is not the intention.
What becomes evident from perusing the new statutes is that there doesn’t seem to be a real departure from the NFA as we know it, giving credence to the opening saying that ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’. However, with renewed energy, great vision, focus, and strategic execution, the current legal framework could deliver a different and desired outcome.
Therefore, I retain hope that the ‘New NFA’ will have seen enough examples of how bad and ugly football administration can be to strive for ensuring that none of those regrettable episodes of poor and ineffective administration are repeated. I remain hopeful!
Disclaimer: Yarukeekuro Steven Ndorokaze is a career journalist and legal practitioner. The views expressed here are his own.