BUT AN UNSEEN PROFILE'
by: DEVI PRIYA P.G
A very significant comment made by the Arch Bishop Desmund Tutu on South Africa which hosted the FIFA World Cup Football 2010 was : “We are the caterpillar that has become the beautiful butterfly” So high were the whole country’s hopes and expectations while they got the very special privilege of hosting the most prestigious sporty extravaganza. More than just a happening event there was a blind faith that this world cup is going to reorient the economic landscape of Africa.
Let’s now examine the positive aspects - both hopes & the realities … because it’s not yet time to fully arrive at a conclusion on to what extent Africa has been transformed .
- It has helped the Govt. to spruce up its infrastructure, boosting tourism and industry sectors – creating employment for the poor.
- Employment is no small deal – around 3.6 million job opportunities that will be created by this month long spectacle.
- Tourism sector must have been the top gainer. World Cup would be the single biggest opportunity for the Govt. to promote South Africa as a destination point of global tourism. Increase in the number of hotels with at least 30 of them constructed in Johannesburg alone.
- Since 2006 South African governments has spent whopping 5.5 billion US Dollars (43 billion Rand) in building stadiums and infrastructure. This is apart from expenditure on airports (17 billion rand or 2.2 billion dollars). Orlando Stadium stands as a modern soccer model built in only 2 years on the site of a rickety venue that occupied ground where mines once dumped their slag and run off . Mr. Zuma also highlighted 5 brand new stadiums calling them the ‘Crown Jewels’ of World Cup. Together with their 5 refurbished venues they glitter across their landscape as a permanent legacy of FIFA 2010 World Cup. South Africa spent over 660 million US Dollars building and renovating 10 World Cup stadiums for the tournament.
- Revitalization of the public transport network with over 9.6 billion dollars already being spent on road infrastructure. The other benefit is the Rea Vaya bus service operating between Johannesburg and Soweto transporting 20,000 people a day. By 2020 South Africa will have over 85% of any city’s population living within a km to an Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network Feeder or Corridor.
- South African rand has also gained against the dollar in recent times on increased foreign exchange flows. World Cup event according to many would be the most commercially successful event in the history of football in 76 years.
- In Cape Town a new electrical sub station has been built in Green Point to ensure enough power for the stadium and surrounding area.
- Addressing the Tourism Indaba Opening ceremony in Durban President Jacob Zuma said “It is in our hands to unite our country, our continent and our world in a footballing feast .It is in our hands to recast our country as a nation of peace, a place of prosperity and mainstay of progress in African continent.”
- It is about further investment in the country and growth in trade and economic opportunities and the way in which they do it is by demonstrating that they have the infrastructure and the capability to warrant serious consideration for such investment. Due to World Cup the country is expected to grow at 3.35 in the current year; 5% in 2011; pushing foreign direct investment to 6.7% of GDP.
- Danny Jordan the chief executive of organizing committee spoke off their country crossing a psychological barrier.The clear message of World Cup was that there is no space for racism and intolerance in sport. The stand taken by FIFA and UEFA is to be welcomed – both organizations continue to build programmes which promote tolerance and campaigning against racism. The choice of South Africa as the host venue provides both a perfect opportunity and platform to renew our efforts to combat discrimination in all its forms.
- Ultimately the “REAL WINNERS” of this years World Cup are those who celebrate and uphold both in words and deeds its values of fairplay , honest competition , respect and tolerance both on and off the field.
Like the two sides of the same coin there are some negative aspects also related to this. They are as follows:
- It can leave a country struggling with huge fiscal deficit, rising inequalities and a host of scandals. A debt crisis in Europe is threatening the fragile economic recovery and the global markets are yet to return to their precrisis high levels.
- South African Govt was criticized by various quarters that it was diverting the money meant to spend for the country’s millions of poor to build infrastructure and other facilities for World Cup.
- The Govt has also been criticized for forcibly moving the impoverished out of cities to present a good image of the nation during the event.
- According to South African Regional Poverty Networks Estimates close to 60% of the populations is still living in poverty. Though the World Cup preparations have changed the face of major cities the people living in the interiors have hardly benefited . The jobs created by the construction works started vanishing as the preparations wound up. employment in the sector fell by 9.3% to 1.085 million in the first quarter of 2010 compared with the same period last year.
- As the world’s visitors packed up their vuvuzelas and returned home on June 12th, the nations foreign nationals remain, fearful of an uprising of xenophobic violence similar in force to the May 2008 riots that left 62 people dead and more than 100000 displaced .Xenophobia and deeply-ingrained institutionalized racism , foreign nationals are just another part of the dichotomy of mistrust , fear and at times violence based along perceived lines of division.
- So it’s high time that we need to think by getting on to their shoes “Isn’t it time to induce a sustainable economic development?” because temporary boom in tourism industry and infrastructure is not an indicator of economic progress . The contracts of building stadiums and other World Cup related infrastructure have been handed over to the blue eyed companies dear to the Govt which only creates a seasonal employment.
- Thabo Mbeki , South African President from 1999-2008 and an intellectual giant offered a thought provoking prescription in an address in Pretoria on May 27,2010 referring to a World Bank report issued which suggested “How Africa could claim the 21st century ? ” Mbeki observed that its suggestions were ‘clear’ and ‘unexceptionable.’ But he emphasized that two elements were missing. One was the need for Africans ‘to recapture the intellectual space’ and to develop their ‘intellectual capital’ so that they themselves could define their future.
- As Krueger writes “It may be time to look past the vuvuzelas and flags, and remember that the fundamental issues facing the country have not disappeared.”
THE DARKER SIDE – “ THE REAL AFRICA”
17 African countries celebrate completion of 50 years of freedom this year. It has passed through a cycle of exploitation, stagnation, hope, setback and subsequent explosion of new expectations. But still . . . . . . . .
- Starving people in drought stricken West Africa are being forced to eat leaves and collect grain from ant hills, say aid agencies warning that 10 million people face starvation across the region.
- With food prices soaring and malnourished livestock dying villagers are turning to any sources of food to stay alive. People are eating wild fruit and leaves and building ant hills just to capture the tiny amount of grains that ants collect inside.
- According to UN Agencies 200000 children need treatment for malnutrition in Niger alone.
- The developing situation is to that of the 1984 famine in Ethiopia during which an estimated 1 million people died due to drought and a slow response to the crisis both within the country and internationally.
- In 2008 , 1.4 million South African children had lost a parent to HIV/AIDS that is expected to rise above 2 million by 2015.
- Television images of emaciated children, teenaged soldiers, brandishing guns, congested urban settlements infested with crime still define our idea of Africa. New stories about disastrous effect of HIV/AIDS, grossly inadequate facilities for health and education and poor governance continue to pour in.Besides, new challenges such as climate change, likely conflicts on water, energy security and deepening marginalization in world affairs complicate the situation.
- But honestly speaking about them they do not merely clamour for change; they have been working for it.
So as we closely examine in detail the pre and post World Cup South Africa it becomes evidently clear that more or less Africa is just the same. What went wrong with us is that we were so deeply immersed in the glamour of the game that we forgot to observe the REAL AFRICA. This is not just Africa’s story. In almost every event similar to the World Cup hosted by the 2nd and 3rd world countries there are such unidentified stark realities which the media limelight often fails or rather forgets to bring out . Indians Beware…. The Commonwealth is ahead …..Enough and more has already happened ............... Let’s WAIT & SEE