Football leaders aligned to embattled secretary general, Barry Rukoro, are said to be lining up Namibia Football Association (NFA) first vice-president, Dr Naftal Ngalangi, to take over as president in a bid to scupper Frans Mbidi’s chances of retaining his position.
Rukoro and Mbidi have for a long time now been embroiled in a bitter power struggle that has spilled into the public domain and things came to a head last week, when Mbidi told NFA executive members that he had replaced Rukoro with Titus Kunamuene and Tim Isaacs, who would share responsibilities of the SG office until a new SG is found.
Sources familiar with the workings of the NFA told the Windhoek Observer this week that a faction aligned to Rukoro wants Dr Ngalangi, who enjoys support from the Kavango-West, Kavango-East and Zambezi regions, to become the new president of the association.
The plan is that his supporters, who were also backing Mbidi, would turn against the current president. With Mbidi out of the way, Dr Ngalangi is then expected to recommend to other executive members that Rukoro be given another five-year term.
Ngalangi was elected the first vice-president in 2014 at the association’s 23rd elective congress, where Mbidi was also voted as president.
The Windhoek Observer understands that Ngalangi’s supporters are now ready to back him for the presidency, which could see Mbidi’s hope of a second term at a congress slated for later this year, go up in smoke.
Speaking to the Windhoek Observer, Dr Ngalangi, who supported Mbidi at the 2014 congress, did not rule out standing for the position of president if nominated, but said that he can only comment on his ambitions for higher office once the NFA’s house is in order.
He said the NFA needs to resolve first the term of office of Rukoro and the much-awaited start of the first division before he can talk about his candidature.
Rukoro’s term in office is officially coming to an end Saturday, March 31, while the first division has not yet started this season despite the Namibia Premier League (NPL) 2017/18 season, which started last October, having only five matches to go before it concludes.
On 23 March, Rukoro was supposed to have handed over his office keys to someone else while the executive committee appoints a new SG.
“We are in March and we (at NFA) have lots of issues that need to be solved. The congress is the last thing on my mind right now. Namibian football has suffered a lot and the SG contract issue needs to be sorted out.
“The first division has not yet started because it is being politicized. Anybody that is thinking of the elective congress right now is just using the advantage to become the next president,” Dr Ngalangi said.
In February this year, Mbidi disclosed that Rukoro’s employment contract would not be renewed once it comes full circle end of this month
He told the Windhoek Observer that he would soon propose that the association’s executive committee appoints a new secretary general, replacing Rukoro who has been SG since 2004.
Mbidi has so far failed in his bid to oust Rukoro.
According to Kunamuene, who together with Isaacs were reportedly set to fulfill the SG’s duties until the Exco meeting on 7 April, Rukoro is still in his office.
Mbidi refused comment when asked about the matter.
“I have already communicated the matter to the relevant authority. I do not want to make a comment on this matter,” Mbidi said.
NPL chairman and NFA executive member, Patrick Kauta, recently wrote a letter to Mbidi expressing his disappointment with the manner in which the NFA president is handling the issue surrounding Rukoro’s contract.
“I am concerned by the litany of emails and letters between members on this issue. The animosity between members is palpable from the use of language and I am struggling to understand with the current conduct how you intend to resolve this issue. You are invariably pitching current junior administrative staff on a collision course against their senior.
“You do that well knowing that the very issue is on the agenda for discussion at the meeting of 7 April. And having invited Mr Rukoro to the meeting you are possibly aware of contrary views. I cannot see how this conduct is beneficial to the NFA,” Kauta said in the letter to Mbidi.
NFA second vice-president, Ludwig ‘Croocks’ Nunuheb, also voiced his concern over the issue to Mbidi.
“We, the members of the NFA executive committee have taken note of a letter circulated to various stakeholders by the NFA president.
“We wish to inform everyone that at no stage did the executive committee take such a decision (proposal of non-renewal of the SG position) or mandate the president to act in that manner, particularly not to act in regard to the SG position and neither to appoint anybody in an acting capacity.
“We also wish to advise both Titus Kunamuene and Tim Isaacs to ignore any purported attempted appointment to share the responsibilities of the Acting Secretary General position without the endorsement of the Exco,” Nunuheb said in the letter.
Nunuheb also said that as far as he is concerned Rukoro remains the association’s SG.
“Rukoro is still my SG until after the executive meeting when a decision will be made on whether he will be given a new contract or not,” Nunuheb said.
The Exco is set to have its meeting in Omuthiya in the Oshikoto Region, with the SG situation expected to be the main agenda.