With just a month and a half to go to the AFCON 2023 in Côte d'Ivoire, a major threat looms over the event. The competition is likely to be seriously disrupted due to a huge blockage.
It has decided to make its voice heard. The national union of Ivory Coast state suppliers (Synafeci) has come out in force to express its displeasure with the unpaid invoices it has been dragging out for years. In a letter dated November 9, the union's president, Faustin Gré, painted a bleak picture of the situation of state suppliers.
He and his comrades accuse the government of many shortcomings, and are planning to disrupt the AFCON 2023 to get their way. They're not pulling any punches."State suppliers are determined to ensure their survival, the survival of Ivorian businesses and the preservation of jobs through collective awareness. Synafeci can no longer accept that exaggerated, uncontrolled expenditure (soccer pitch turf) is made while services provided or work carried out by the State are not honored, not even taken into account by the Ivorian government without valid reasons and explanations", the unionists castigate from the outset. The tone of the document quickly rises to the level of public threats.
"The government talks about entrepreneurship all day long, without any concrete action to back it up. Who are they kidding? State structures all audited for their opaque management? Why do our country's leaders lack the political will to punish the mismanagement of public funds and their accomplices? Why are state suppliers being saddled with debt by refusing to pay for their services?" some worries of the bitter union.
"No settelements, no AFCON 2023".
With no recourse left, Synafeci has decided to strike hard. Through the voice of their president, these businessmen are threatening to disrupt the 2023 AFCON, which will take place from January 13 to February 11, 2024 in Abidjan, Yamoussoukro, Bouaké, San Pedro and Korhogo.
"The African Cup will not take place in Côte d'Ivoire until a solution is found to the long-standing concerns of the state's suppliers," they clearly warned.But they didn't stop there. They clearly called on the President of the Republic, Alassane Ouattara, and the new Prime Minister, Robert Beugré Mambé, to address their plight. They called for "a special dispensation or subsidy to pay the invoice of over 125,000 euros from the AFCI company, one of the state's oldest suppliers, now aged 85, and the payment of 118,902 euros to the two Ivorian companies that provided services for the organization of the 27th Congress of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) in 2021."
The angry unionists ended their letter by reminding decision-makers "that there are also all the unprocessed, unaudited and unpaid invoices in town halls, regional councils and all state structures, not to mention the excessively high tax and customs pressures, which are also major concerns."
Having spent 76,220,000 euros on sports, road and sanitary infrastructures, Côte d'Ivoire is about to organize the "most beautiful AFCON in history", in the words of COCAN and CAF. It would be a shame for the party to be spoiled. The ball is therefore in the court of the political leaders.