Monday, August 31, 2009

Cheating Chuene doesn't change his spots

Now here's something strange: an article in the Citizen dated 13 August 2009 states that Press Ombudsman Joe Thloloe ordered the Sunday Times to publish an apology for articles published last year about Athletics SA (ASA) president Leonard Chuene and his personal assistant (PA), Humile Bogatsu. Here

This was 5 days before Caster Semenya won the women's 800 m.

Why would Chuene have a go at the Sunday Times just before the race about a story that appeared one and a half years ago?

Is the huge fuss about gender testing and allegations of racism just a smokescreen to divert attention away from wide scale corruption and abuse of power at ASA?

Remember this article in the Sunday Times in March last year?

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Athletics SA boss Leonard Chuene allegedly sent his secretary lurid SMSs and organised her a fat pay rise.

Leonard Chuene, one of the longest-reigning presidents in South African sport, has sparked an outrage over an illicit love affair.

Chuene — the boss of Athletics SA (ASA) since the mid-’90s who will be seeking re-election next month — allegedly secured a salary increase for his personal assistant, with whom he is said to be romantically involved.

Chuene, 55, and Humile Bogatsu, 21, yesterday denied having a sexual relationship.

But the Sunday Times has seen transcripts of three SMSs Chuene is alleged to have sent to Bogatsu.

In one, sent at 8.36pm on January 27 2007, the sender says: “Hu Darling miss u lots of love am late I will be there.”

In another, sent at 10.39pm on January 4 2007, the sender says: “Hu darling if indeed luv can play around with a person the way it does with me then I don’t want mind lots and lots of luv goodnite my sweety pie luv u very much it hurts.”

The third, from 10.52pm on October 29 2006, is written in SePedi: “Melawana ya go ja kuku [Rules of having sex]”. The SMS went into details “until ejaculation”.

Chuene, a married father of four, denied sending any SMSs to Bogatsu declaring his love.

Chuene allegedly made the motivation for Bogatsu’s pay rise to the ASA board in January last year without disclosing the nature of their relationship. Her salary was apparently bumped up to R15000 a month from R5000, which was in line with her position as his PA.

Angry observers say Chuene should resign, citing the Paul Wolfowitz case, where the World Bank president was forced to quit last year because of a pay deal he arranged for his girlfriend. Wolfowitz’s action was considered a violation of ethics.

The Sunday Times has been told there were early attempts to cover up the affair soon after it started in 2006, and initially it was made to look as if Bogatsu was dating a young man in the organisation.

They were protecting the boss’s girl,” said an athlete. “It (the affair) is public knowledge now. Everybody knows but they’re looking away.”

The Sunday Times has heard that at a party in Stellenbosch last year the couple cavorted openly in front of staff and officials. Chuene and Bogatsu danced together provocatively, grinding their pelvises together, and Bogatsu even licked her boss’s fingers.

Bogatsu denied that. “I have not taken any ‘dirty dancing’ lessons as yet. I don’t even suck my own fingers.”

Added Chuene: “She has not sucked my fingers. We Pedi people do not do that.”

Bogatsu has accompanied Chuene on overseas trips, notably to the 2007 World Championships in Japan and to the IAAF awards dinner in Monte Carlo late last year, but she said she had travelled “as part of my functions”.

There is growing discontent within ASA over Chuene’s autocratic leadership style, but he faces little opposition from a board that is composed largely of lackeys.

“He’s a tyrant, he’s a Robert Mugabe,” said one disaffected high-ranking ASA official. “He’s a frightening man.”

Chuene replied, saying: “There’s an election around the corner. So if I am indeed a Robert Mugabe, the constituency, the people that put me in this position, will vote me out of office.”

Chuene, who also sits on the council of the IAAF, the world governing body of athletics, is close to Butana Komphela, the chairman of Parliament’s sports portfolio committee. Chuene says their relationship is professional.

Soon after the Sunday Times began investigating the story last year, Komphela phoned on Chuene’s behalf and tried to stop its publication.

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But, as the late-nite Verimark ads tell you, there's more! A lot more about financial irregularities that were discovered at ASA at the same time! Here, reproduced below:

Sport Minister Makhenkesi Stofile has entered the fray over the love antics within Athletics South Africa, saying ASA president Leonard Chuene was “totally out of order” if he had organised a pay hike for his mistress.

The Sunday Times reported last week that Chuene, 55, had failed to disclose his romantic relationship with his personal assistant, Humile Bogatsu, 21, when he motivated for her salary to be increased from R5000 a month to R15000.

“For heaven’s sake, he can’t be party to the determination of his girlfriend’s salary rise,” said Stofile, adding that he first learnt of the illicit love affair last year from a letter written by ASA’s vice-president, Simon Dlamini.

The letter — headlined “Allegations of financial and other irregularities surrounding an alleged romantic relationship between yourself and your personal assistant” — was sent to Chuene, and copied to Stofile and ASA’s executive members.

Dlamini did not mention the pay hike, but warned: “My lawyers advised me that the allegations against you are very serious indeed, and that if proved in a court of law, they might have serious implications not only for you, but for all the ASA executive.

“The legal implications might include, but not be limited to, lack of good judgment, neglect of fiduciary duty, financial mismanagement, and indeed corruption or fraud.”

Stofile said he had phoned Chuene, who “of course denied involvement with his personal assistant”.

Dlamini withdrew the letter soon after issuing it, following a discussion with Chuene. He said: “There’s no issue, we’re working very well now.”

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times can report today that Chuene has received remuneration as ASA president, a fact he has always denied. He earned nearly R400000 for the year ending February 29 2004, during which time he famously criticised Sam Ramsamy for drawing a salary as president of the then National Olympic Committee of SA (Nocsa).

Although not illegal, the preferred practice in SA sport is that elected officials should not hold salaried posts. Chuene’s package in 2004 totalled R398276.94.

According to an auditor’s working note, seen by the Sunday Times, his medical aid comprised R70746, and company car R58262.94.

The remaining R269268 apparently included cellphone and petrol costs. His basic was about R15000 a month.

He was given a bonus late last year “as a token of thanks for all the good work he has done”, said Dlamini, also chairman of ASA’s finance committee. He didn’t say how much Chuene received, but the Sunday Times has heard it was “substantial”.

Dlamini denied Chuene earned a salary, but said he gets reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses (small change, then - Ed.).

The Sunday Times has also learnt that more than R2-million was stolen from ASA in 2002. An auditor’s working note reads:

“During the audit, management advised that petty cash of R2099398 and emergency funds of R2000 had been stolen by the accounts clerk during the year. The theft of petty cash was not timeously detected.” (More small change, then ...)

Then CEO Banele Sindani gave himself a loan of nearly R175000 without the board’s consent, also in 2002.

“There was no formal approval by the board for a loan granted to the CEO during the year. At year-end the balance of the loan was R173311.95.”

ASA paid more than R30000 for a hired car for development manager Molatelo Malehopo from May-August 2004, after his personal vehicle had been stolen.

Sources claim that in spite of mounting allegations against Chuene, he and his cronies are unlikely to be toppled at next month’s ASA elections which, they insist, will be a sham.

“I’ve seen people holding notes with names written down so they don’t forget who they’re supposed to vote for,” said one.

Sports observers said the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) should demand a forensic audit into ASA.

The National Sport and Recreation Amendment Act gives Sascoc the power to order an investigation into a federation beset by allegations of “any malpractice”.

Chuene and Sascoc are already involved in a spat over allegedly spurious comments the athletics boss made about the macro-body.

Butana Komphela, the outspoken chairman of Parliament’s sports committee, has already sided with Chuene. Using atrocious spelling, he fired off a letter to Sascoc accusing them of conducting a witch-hunt — spelt “witchant” — against Chuene. Komphela even spelt Chuene’s name incorrectly, referring to him mostly as “Lonard”, and once as “Lornard”.

(Can't trust this lot to get their facts right. Typical to revert to the race card when things predictably go off the rails.)

1 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

Brilliant observation.