‘Claims of Mbeki paying $10m in Fifa scandal are defamatory’

The Sports Minister has defended Thabo Mbeki, saying the reports aim to give him a bad name.

FILE: Thabo Mbeki. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - South African Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula says claims that former President Thabo Mbeki decided to pay $10 million to a football development programme in the Caribbean are defamatory.

It's been reported that the former president gave the go-ahead for the payment to the Diaspora Legacy Program which was administered by former Fifa vice president Jack Warner.

Warner is currently under investigation for bribery, racketeering and money laundering for his role in the wide-ranging Fifa scandal.

Graphic showing the key players in the Fifa scandal.

The reports also say former Cabinet ministers Ronnie Kasrils and Mosiuoa Lekota had no knowledge of this legacy programme.

Mbalula says the reports aim to give the former president a bad name.

"President Mbeki was the president of South Africa and presiding at that time when we donated $10 million. This is a twisted headline to sustain sensationalism and bring the president into discourse."

WATCH: Fikile Mbalula: Our hands are clean

Meanwhile, Safa President Danny Jordaan has broken his silence on the reason why he didn't travel to Zurich for the Fifa presidential vote last Friday.

Irvan Khoza represented the country in the vote, which saw President Sepp Blatter elected for a fifth term.

Blatter has since indicated he will step down.

Jordaan, who is also the newly appointed Nelson Mandela Bay mayor, says the reason he missed the presidential election votes in Zurich was because he was engaged in sponsorship contract negotiations with CAF, which delayed his departure.

He says he had already missed four of the five metro meetings and engagements scheduled for that week and therefore travelling to Zurich was impossible.

Jordaan then also referred to unnecessary travel, saying the metro's travel budget, which was originally set at R200 million, had to be cut.

He says this figure was far too high and has described it as a wasteful expenditure.

'TECHNICALITIES' IN $10M SCANDAL

Fifa has defended itself in the face of what appears to be a glaring contradiction emanating from a letter addressed to its secretary general Jerome Valcke, explaining that all correspondence to the body is automatically sent to him.

The letter dated 2008, from Safa to Valcke, confirms a request of $10 million originally destined for the hosting of the 2010 World Cup be channelled instead to a development programme in Caribbean.

Fifa's statement confirms that the South African government did ask for the money to be diverted to the Diaspora Legacy Programme in the Caribbean instead of making its way to South Africa for 2010 showpiece.

It insists none of the body's senior management or Valcke were involved in the "initiation, approval and implementation of the project".

But Fifa spokesperson Walter de Gregorio told Eyewitness News that there is nothing new in the letter.

"The letter is consistent to our statement where we underlined that the Fifa finance committee made the final approval. In general, the Fifa secretary general is the recipient of all letters and requests to the administration and acts in accordance with Fifa's regulations."

Fifa added that due to the current situation, Valcke will not be attending the opening of the Fifa Women's World Cup Canada 2015 as previously scheduled.

"It is important that he attends to matters at Fifa's headquarters in Zurich," the football governing body said.