Mining magnate set to become new president of African soccer body

How Motsepe worked his way to the top of CAF

08 March 2021 - 09:57
By Charles Baloyi
Patrice Motsepe's path to the CAF top post has been cleared as hard work and planning pay off.
Image: Veli Nhlapo Patrice Motsepe's path to the CAF top post has been cleared as hard work and planning pay off.

The weeks of planning and hard work have paid off for Patrice Motsepe as he is now set to become the first Confederation of African Football (CAF) president from Anglophone Africa.

That fact is a big deal because since the body was founded in 1957 it has never had a president from English-speaking countries of the continent.

Motsepe's apparent successful campaign started with a letter from the SA Football Association (Safa) to CAF endorsing the mining magnate as presidential candidate.

Four countries – Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Botswana and Sierra Leone, all in Anglophone Africa – immediately endorsed the Mamelodi Sundowns owner’s candidacy.

Fellow presidential candidates Augustin Senghor of Senegal and Jacques Anouma of Ivory Coast pulled out the race last Friday but what finally cleared Motsepe’s path to the position was Mauritanian Ahmed Yahya’s announcement the following day that he would also no longer contest for the presidency of the organisation.

That has left Motsepe, 59, as the only candidate for the presidency. The election is to be held this Friday in Rabat, the capital of Morocco.

Senghor has reportedly accepted a deal to become the first vice-president, with Yahya taking the second vice-president position, while Anouma will become the special adviser to the president. Motsepe should thus become the first English-speaking president to lead the Cairo-based institution. The previous president, Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar, had become the first person from southern Africa region to hold the post but the fact that he is from Francophone Africa served to extend the domination of CAF by that socio-political region of the continent.

Safa president Danny Jordaan and Motsepe set the ball rolling for Motsepe's campaign and visited several countries, from north and west Africa, to southern Africa, whose regional body, Council of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa), also played a big role.

Safa head of communications Dominic Chimhavi, who travelled with Motsepe and Jordaan to campaign in several countries, said it was about time for a new man to lead CAF.

“I think it is a masterstroke by the CAF leaders to endorse Mostepe. He is what the doctor ordered. No one is better than him to lead CAF. With Motsepe, CAF is in good hands,” Chimhavi told Sowetan yesterday.

Cosafa wrote a letter to its 13 members except Mauritius to endorse Motsepe. It was during the African Nations Championship tournament in Cameroon, which ended last month, that Motsepe campaigned and struck a possible deal with Senghor.

“The first deal was mooted in Cameroon, when Safa and Danny asked Motsepe to meet with Senghor. It’s a new dawn for African football,” added Chimhavi.

Motsepe will be officially unveiled during the elective congress by CAF in Morocco on Friday.