The South African Football Association (Safa) are resolutely fighting off Ria Ledwaba and Solly Mohlabeng’s quest for arbitration.
The association presented its heads of argument at the Pretoria High Court last week.
The judge is still considering the arguments of both parties and has reserved judgment for later this week.
The duo is still challenging the validity of the Safa elective congress, which was held last year where Danny Jordaan came out triumphant and was elected as president for his second term. They are seeking arbitration and have approached the court for an order compelling Safa to convene an arbitrational tribunal.
Ledwaba and Mohlabeng are still adamant the elections were not held in terms of the Safa constitution, arguing that the governance committee that was created in the new constitution amendments had not been properly appointed in terms of the constitution.
Led by the esteemed legal eagle, Norman Arendse SC, Safa presented its argument, and want the duo’s application for arbitration to be dismissed with costs. Safa’s contention is that both Ledwaba and Mohlabeng are not members of Safa; they had a dispute resolution process available to them and they waived their rights.
“The applicants are not members of Safa or persons within Safa’s jurisdiction. Furthermore, as candidates in an election, the applicants had their avenue to challenge the elections, which they unsuccessfully invoked at the time of the election process. Additionally, even if the applicants had a right, they waived their right to refer their dispute to arbitration,” read the court papers.
“The applicants, despite resoundingly losing an election bid for the presidency of Safa, seek to overturn that election. Safa, in opposing this application, far from resembling “opportunistic dictators”, seeks only to protect the legitimate, democratic choices of its members as enshrined in the Safa statutes.
“The applicants attempt to duck their baseless review by telling this court that there is no need to decide the grounds of review; an arbitrator should decide the matter. This tactic is misguided and will not work.
“The merits of the applicants’ statement of claim are irrelevant. Once this court finds that the applicants have no right to refer the matter to arbitration, that is the end of the application.”
However, Ledwaba and Mohlabeng’s lawyer, Leruma Thobejane, is confident that the judge will rule in their favour.
“We presented a very strong case, and I am very confident in our presentation. Safa is changing the rules to suit them and their agenda,” said Thobejane.