Thursday, July 1, 2010

Episode 16: Finding use for new stadiums will prove an uphill climb

Download: MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis [5:59 minutes]

Finding use for new stadiums will prove an uphill climb
By Ingi Salgado

South Africa has spent nearly 2.75 billion dollars building five soccer stadiums and upgrading another five for the World Cup, but the total bill could escalate if alternative uses for the venues do not bring in enough cash to run operations.

Fears are mounting that local stadiums, especially those in smaller cities, may incur substantial operating losses in the years ahead.

"It's going to be a tremendous challenge when you have as many new stadiums as South Africa has," said Barry Pollen, the director of Stadium Management South Africa, which has been appointed to run the country's calabash-shaped Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg. "If there is no population, then it will be very difficult to attract people."

Stan du Plessis, an economics professor at the University of Stellen-bosch, said it was "implausible" that the smaller new stadiums in Nelspruit, Polokwane and Port Elizabeth would be able to cover their operational costs, let alone provide a decent return on investment to cover construction costs. "They don't have the crowds. The teams may be there, but the question is if they have enough supporters. Premier Soccer League attendance is low outside the very big clubs," he said.

So far, only four local stadiums - none of which were built from scratch - are on track to remain productive assets after the last whistle is blown next week.

Three of them, Ellis Park in Johannesburg, Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria and Free State in Bloem-fontein, have the support of established rugby franchises that boast committed crowds.

The fourth, Soccer City, has opted not to secure a soccer tenant team because it erodes its ability to host finals. But its future is nevertheless more secure than its cousins in outlying areas because of its status.

It will be rebranded as the National Stadium after the World Cup, and will host a variety of sporting events, as well as conferences, weddings, birthday bashes, funerals - "anything we can fit in", says Pollen.

But prospects at the other stadiums are less certain.

In Cape Town and Durban, authorities have thus far been unable to tempt provincial rugby teams to sign on as anchor tenants at the 620 million dollar Green Point Stadium or the 425 million dollar Moses Mabhida Stadium.

In the case of the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks, a 47-year lease at neighbouring Kings Park stands in the way, while Western Province rugby's affiliated clubs have voted to remain at the ground they own in Newlands because it is commercially "more beneficial".

However, in Port Elizabeth, a good relationship with the Eastern Province Rugby Union may not be enough to sufficiently fill the 290 million dollar Nelson Mandela Stadium's 44 000 seats.

The prospects appear bleaker for other stadiums that have no clubs signed on, such as the 165 million dollar Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit and the 180 million dollar Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.

Durban city manager Mike Sutcliffe recently indicated that the host cities faced enormous funding issues. "If I'm battling in a big city, I'd hate to know what my colleagues are doing in Polokwane and Mbombela," he told Parliament.

The municipalities that own the stadiums are likely to land up with annual operational expenses amounting to millions of dollars.

The most expensive stadium to run is certain to be the 95 000-capacity Soccer City, whose annual operational and maintenance costs Pollen estimates at 4 million dollars. "Stadiums are very expensive to operate and maintain. They have to generate a lot of revenue," he said.

To help pull in cash, stadium management will more than likely seek to host musical, cultural and religious events, but the relative infrequency of such gatherings rules them out as a substantial source of income. Other possible uses include housing conference centres, shopping centres and restaurants.

Du Plessis said that if there was no realistic prospect of recovering costs in the immediate future, then a "perfectly sensible" solution would be to knock down the stadiums. "You don't have to keep on paying the bill," he said. But this was an unlikely option because of the political embarrassment demolition would cause in a country with pressing development needs, he believed.

Tearing down a stadium may seem extreme, but is not unheard of. South Korea resorted to demolishing its Dong-dae-mun Stadium after the 2002 World Cup co-hosted with Japan.

Concerns about being stranded with white elephants have dogged the hosting of most major global sporting events in recent decades as specially built venues struggle to attract the kind of crowds that would keep them operational. London, host to the 2012 Olympics, is anxiously considering proposals to turn the 1.15 Billion dollar East London Stadium into a music venue, or to secure West Ham United as anchor football tenants after the games.

One thing is certain, without concerted and creative steps to guarantee their future use, most of South Africa's new stadiums will lie idle, further eating into strained municipal finances.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Episode 15: Bend it Like Imperialism

Download: MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis [5:30 minutes]

Bend it Like Imperialism

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

So many Black American entertainers and luminaries flocked to the World Cup opening ceremonies in South Africa, one veteran activist was prompted to remark that "these folks are crossing the picket line." It is a line that separates South Africa's poor Black majority from the real beneficiaries of the "gold" - "the soccer elites of FIFA, the elites of domestic and international corporate capital and the political elites who are making billions and who will be benefiting at the expense of the poor."

"These stadiums are encased in a 'Ring of Steel' to protect audiences from 'unpatriotic citizens' of South Africa."

Today, June 16, marks the 34th anniversary of the South African Soweto uprising where thousands of African youth took to the streets and where hundreds would die at the hands of the South African police and military. Today, June 16, also marks the first anniversary of that uprising to take place during the first ever World Cup on the African continent. These competing, colliding commemorations and events stand in violent opposition to one another precisely because the World Cup is corporate-sponsored spectacle playing on our emotions in the hopes that we will not realize or will ignore those who try to force realization, that the causes of the Soweto uprising, indeed the very existence of a Soweto or a South Africa, remain, are even worse now than 34 years ago. So bad are these conditions today that in response to seeing so many Black American entertainers participating in the World Cup opening ceremonies one veteran activist remarked to me that "these folks are crossing the picket line."

No one at all familiar with the history of the labor movement can hear lightly this kind of condemnation. To cross any picket line, that is, to become a "scab" is to betray the struggle of your kind, of your class. And this is precisely what major events such as the World Cup demand of its participants. And everyone did. Hugh Masekela was there to briefly blow his once defiant horn, as was John Legend and the Black Eyed Peas fresh off their Obama inauguration performance where they omitted their lyrics about the CIA being terrorists. Shakira was there in her grass skirt wiggling her light/white Latin Americanness before the world and from within the "Dark Continent" no less! And, of course, there was K'Naan the talented Somali rapper who foolishly accepts invitations from white liberals to bash Black Americans as not really being that oppressed while himself selling his liberation song Wavin' Flag to Coca-Cola to be used as the World Cup theme song absent, naturally, of its lyrical references to Somali suffering. And all the while his fellow continental Africans, who he cannot dismiss as having it as easy as their American cousins, do not have their concerns addressed either.

"Since the "fall of apartheid" White income has risen 24% while that of Black Africans has actually dropped."

So no mention of the 20,000 poor removed from stadium sites into even smaller slums. No mention that these stadiums are encased in a "Ring of Steel" to protect audiences from "unpatriotic citizens" of South Africa whose presence alone, never mind any actual protest, might heighten too many contradictions. No mention either of the 22 million Africans in South Africa who live as squatters, and have no potable water. Or the 14 million who are unemployed, or that 43% live ith less than $2 a day. And no mention that Black South African men earn what equates to $320 a month while White men earn $2,600 or that Whites as 12% of the population still hold 74% of private sector jobs, control over 80% of the land and all of the military. Further, no mention can be made of the fact that since the "fall of apartheid" White income has risen 24% while that of Black Africans has actually dropped. Of course, this is aided by the embedded model of journalism where the World Cup governing body FIFA has right of refusal to any journalist accreditations should anyone be so foolish as to actually attempt to report any of this. This will also be helpful in preventing the world from becoming aware of the fact that most of the products being sold at the World Cup are Chinese or that FIFA owns all the merchandising rights which has led one writer to explain that, "This World Cup is not for the poor - it is the soccer elites of FIFA, the elites of domestic and international corporate capital and the political elites who are making billions and who will be benefiting at the expense of the poor."

And though few will see or hear of them protests are being organized and efforts to break through the televised façade will continue. One such effort is coming from the Socialist Party of Azania (SOPA) whose statement in promotion of a call to join them June 16 in South Africa to commemorate the 1976 Soweto uprising says: "Therefore, our call comes at a time when the subtle and insidious mechanism of State is used to good effect by the Capitalist Overlords to ensure the willing obedience and subservience of the working-class through a twisted vocalization of what they claim is a "universal message of equality, love and justice" wrapped up in massive sports jamborees, coupled with the subtle threat that "...if we do not believe and promote their message, then we are evil and will be dealt with in ways that we cannot begin to imagine..."
In the meantime, I like many Black onlookers, will continue to watch and root for teams along the following lines: against all teams of the West, then for the teams with the most Black players and so on down the line and ultimately only for those whose struggles continue and remain ignored.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball. Online go to

Jared Ball can be reached at

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Episode 14: Patrick Bond Interview Part 5

Download: MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis [5:00 minutes]

Patrick Bond is a political economist with longstanding research interests and NGO work in urban communities and with global justice movements in several countries. He teaches political economy and eco-social policy at SDS, directs the Centre for Civil Society and is involved in research on economic justice, energy and water.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Episode 13: Patrick Bond Interview Part 4

Download: MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis [5:34 minutes]

Patrick Bond is a political economist with longstanding research interests and NGO work in urban communities and with global justice movements in several countries. He teaches political economy and eco-social policy at SDS, directs the Centre for Civil Society and is involved in research on economic justice, energy and water.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Episode 12: Patrick Bond Interview Part 3

Download: MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis [4:00 minutes]

Patrick Bond is a political economist with longstanding research interests and NGO work in urban communities and with global justice movements in several countries. He teaches political economy and eco-social policy at SDS, directs the Centre for Civil Society and is involved in research on economic justice, energy and water.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Episode 11: Patrick Bond Interview, part 2

Download: MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis [5:30 minutes]

Patrick Bond is a political economist with longstanding research interests and NGO work in urban communities and with global justice movements in several countries. He teaches political economy and eco-social policy at SDS, directs the Centre for Civil Society and is involved in research on economic justice, energy and water. IN this episode Patrick Bond talks about South Africa's international debt partially due to the building of the new airport and new rapid transit system and the surrendering of their police to FIFA.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Episode 10: Patrick Bond Interview, part 1

Download: MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis [4:45 minutes]

Patrick Bond is a political economist with longstanding research interests and NGO work in urban communities and with global justice movements in several countries. He teaches political economy and eco-social policy at SDS, directs the Centre for Civil Society and is involved in research on economic justice, energy and water. In this episode he talks about the new stadia built for the world cup.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Episode 9: FIFA to rake in Billions

Download: MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis [3:32 minutes]

FIFA to rake in billions
By Natasha Marrian | JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - Jun 18 2010 16:32

World football governing body FIFA expects its provisional income for the 2010 World Cup to be about $3,2-billion (about R24-billion), a spokesperson said on Friday.

The provisional figure was given in reply to a question at a media briefing at Soccer City in Johannesburg.

Spokesperson Nicolas Maingot said the World Cup was the main source of income for FIFA, and its revenue from this World Cup would tide it over for the next four years.

He added that 75% of its revenue would be invested into football development.

The estimate comes after it was reported that South Africa, which spent about R63-billion on hosting the event, has granted FIFA a number of tax concessions.

A Sunday paper reported that the world soccer body would cause the country to lose "tens or possibly hundreds of millions of rands in potential revenue".

It reported that the South African Revenue Service had been forced to agree to a "tax bubble" around FIFA sites, which would exempt the soccer federation from paying value-added tax, income tax and customs duties.

South Africa reportedly gave FIFA guarantees, including a supportive financial environment by waiving customs duties, taxes and levies on the import and export of goods belonging to the FIFA delegation, its commercial affiliates, broadcast rights holders, media and spectators, and the unrestricted import and export of all foreign currencies into and from South Africa.

The guarantees also included ownership of all media, marketing and intellectual property and that FIFA cannot be sued for claims arising from the staging of the tournament.

Meanwhile, local organising committee (LOC) spokesperson Rich Mkhondo would not be drawn on what the extra cost of deploying police officers at various stadiums would be.

This was after security guards at various stadiums downed tools over wages.

He refused to be drawn on the security debacle facing the World Cup stadiums across the country.

"There is a dispute between parties. Once we get involved in a public debate, the issues get escalated," Mkhondo said.

"We are trying to resolve all these issues ... we are not going to do that publicly."

Five World Cup stadiums have been hit by industrial action since the commencement of the tournament last Friday.

Initially the strike involved only one service provider, Stallion security. However, guards from the Fidelity Security Company also
entered the fray on Thursday.

"In our agenda there are no security issues," Mkhondo said.

This after the Mail & Guardian on Friday reported that police were investigating claims that sabotage by rival security companies was at the root of the industrial action.

The Mail & Guardian said it established that the government would have to foot a bill exceeding R100-million to pay the police officers. This expense was "supposedly" covered by FIFA and the local organising committee, the report said.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Episode 8: FIFA's great South African rip-off

Download: MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis [5:27 minutes]

City Press

Fifa's great SA rip-off

by Julian Rademeyer, Chandre Prince and Anna-Maria Lombard

For the next five weeks get used to Sepp Blatter being your president and Jacob Zuma sitting on the bench as a bit-player whose government is legally bound to perform the international football federation’s every bidding.

Fifa’s grip on South Africa was cemented with 17 key guarantees the government had to agree to in order to host the world’s biggest sporting event.

A senior government official said: “Fifa are a bunch of thugs. Not even the UN expects you to sign away your tax base. These mafiosos do.”

The South African Revenue Service (Sars) has been forced to accede to an extraordinary “tax ­bubble” around “Fifa-designated sites” which ­exempts Fifa, its subsidiaries and foreign football ­associations from paying income tax, customs ­duties and value-added tax (VAT).

As a consequence South Africa, which has already spent R63 billion, will stand to lose tens or possibly hundreds of millions of rand in potential revenue.

According to a document compiled by Sars, by the end of April R613 million worth of goods had been imported into South Africa for the tournament. Rebates of R118 million were paid out on those imports in line with special tax measures for the World Cup.

The National Treasury says it is unable to provide estimates of the amount of foreign currency brought into and taken out of SA, but said one of the guarantees was “unrestricted import and export”.

Some of Fifa’s commercial affiliates, licensees, host broadcasters, broadcast rights agencies, ­merchandise partners and service providers will not pay taxes on the profits they make during the World Cup. But VAT will be paid on ticket sales and foreign-based soccer players will be taxed on income they receive for playing in the tournament.

Hospital beds, intensive care units and ambulances have been reserved for Fifa and its foreign visitors.

More than R700 million has been spent readying emergency medical services and numerous state-of-the-art medical centres, ambulances and rescue vehicles which have been kept under lock and key for exclusive use during the 30-day tournament.

Safa has also had to provide Fifa with two private jets, two limousines, 300 cars, half a dozen buses and “chauffeurs who speak fluent English and are thoroughly familiar with the area”.

Fifa has hit paydirt. The money is rolling into its Swiss bank accounts and Fifa secretary-general ­Jerome Valcke boasted this week that “we have increased our income by 50% since 2006 in Germany to 2010 in South Africa”.

Fifa – a registered “not-for-profit” organisation – has banked a record R25 billion in media and marketing revenues. In March, the Swiss parliament upheld Fifa’s tax-free status in Switzerland.

The World Cup is expected to contribute an additional 0.5% to the country’s gross ­domestic product.

But Dr Udesh Pillay, the executive director of the Human Sciences Research Council’s Centre for Service Delivery, was recently quoted as saying that the country’s expenditure on the World Cup accounts for 6.4% of the 2010/11 GDP.

Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay said: “From the perspective of what we spent as a country and from what the country stands to make in terms of revenue and profits it is almost ­negligible.

“Our approach to the World Cup has been that it was never going to be a revenue-raising exercise.

“Certainly it would be wrong to view the World Cup as a significant contributor in itself.

“The concessions we had to give to Fifa are simply too demanding and overwhelming for us to have material monetary benefits.”

Friday, June 18, 2010

Episode 7: FIFA the real master of the universe, gets its claws into the South African justice system

Download: MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis [5:01 minutes]

Daily Maverick Fifa, the real master of the universe, gets its claws into SA justice system

On Thursday the South African government handed over more power to Fifa, this time 56 special courts that will operate for the duration of the World Cup (and just happen to have cost taxpayers R45 million). What master wants, master gets, and be warned: Fifa is relishing having the police and justice system at its disposal, all in aid of making the tournament successful, of course.

The British tabloids announced recently that anyone who breaks the law in South Africa during the World Cup will receive a complimentary Hannibal Lecter straightjacket and free train ride to the Karoo.

In announcing 56 special World Cup courts on Thursday, the South African government said it didn’t get that particular memo – but will be sure to extradite convicts in a polite and swift fashion, and without any Stalin-era gulags. And yet, listening to Fifa’s general secretary Jérôme Valcke, one kind of got the feeling that if they could… they probably would.

A bit of background: When Fifa and South Africa were planning the World Cup all those years ago, crime must have popped up on the agenda.

FIFA: You guys better do something about that

DANNY: Yes master.

And so, Jeff Radebe and his Ministry of Justice pulled R45 million out of the kitty and began setting up special courts around the country. Hundreds of magistrates, prosecutors, legal aid lawyers, court orderlies (those snoozing police officers) and translators were chosen and placed on stand-by.

The 56 courts will run late into the night, seven days a week, and – all going according to plan – will finalise cases in a matter of days. This will save visitors the pain of coming back to South Africa to testify and – knowing our system – watching in horror as their case is postponed yet again. The courts mean good overtime pay for those involved – so, in theory, they should function well. They opened for business on May 28 and will remain in operation until July 25.

The launch of these courts took place yesterday at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court in northern Johannesburg. (No, we don’t know why it was held a week after the courts opened.) The function turned out to be a World Cup special: the tent, the big speakers, the vuvuzelas, the diski dancers and a handful of dignitaries. Radebe was obviously there, as was the National Prosecuting Authority’s resident DIY expert Menzi Simelane, Danny Jordaan, Fifa man Valcke and former soccer legend turned guest speaker Lucas Radebe.

The speeches went off okay – despite the MC assuming the chief magistrate at the court was a man, when she is very much a woman. That awkward moment aside, the speakers took turns to tell us (just in case we didn’t know it yet) that South Africa is ready for the World Cup.

An interesting bit came from Simelane, who revealed the special courts have already dealt with four cases. These aren’t exactly terrorists caught moments before blowing up a stadium – but they are rather interesting. One involves a Frenchman drinking and driving in Durban. The courts are waiting for blood tests (everybody take a long breath), after which the trial will resume. Another is the theft of a laptop from a Peruvian, but the case was dropped due to lack of evidence. The third saw a visiting businessman steal a camera from another, but was also dropped after the company decided to deal with the matter internally. And then, of course, there is the case of the two hotel cleaners who allegedly cleaned out the Colombian soccer team at their fancy hotel in Hyde Park. That one is dragging out and was postponed again yesterday.

Simelane says the system is ready. We’ll wait and see before making that judgment.

The coup de grâce came from Valcke, who spoke about our police officers and courts as a tool at his disposal. He began by admitting (and it makes sense in a French accent): “Very often people are saying, but why Fifa wants this, Fifa wants that, and Fifa is a bad company or institution, that Fifa is taking over South Africa…”

He then reminded the room that “football is hope” and hope equals world peace. Or something like that.

And then the darkness descended (at least it would have in a movie): “We will protect our World Cup whatever we have to do – that’s very clear. Even if we again are looking as bad guys… or me personally as a bad guy… but that’s my role… is to protect the world cup… and to protect Fifa… and that’s what I will do. And to do this I need the police, I need the justice… Because the World Cup has to be a success.”

Yes master.

By Alex Eliseev

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Episode 6: Shame on The Game by Creamy Ewok Baggends

Download: MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis [6:41 minutes]

Creamy Ewok Baggends featuring aTari-Logo
Beat production by DJ Veranda-Panda
Executive production by I Robinson
Engineered by Colin Peddie at Sonic Studios, Durban
Mixed and mastered by Mike Sims at The Planet Art

The Khulumani Support group is currently undertaking the prosecution of 5 major corporations complicit in supporting the Apartheid Government of South Africa during the struggle. These same companies are current investors in the FIFA World Cup. This track is part of a Hip Hop compilation being released in June 2010 to create awareness around this apparent lack of justice.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Episode 5: Construction workers lose out as 2010 ticket incentive bungled

Download: MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis [4:01 minutes]

Construction workers lose out as 2010 ticket incentive bungled

by Colleen Dardagan

HUNDREDS of construction workers who helped build Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium stand to lose out on their promised free World Cup match tickets as Fifa's local organising committee has bungled the allocations.

Last year, President Jacob Zuma and Fifa president Sepp Blatter promised the workers two free tickets for games in the World Cup stadiums they helped to build. To date, construction companies have yet to receive all the treasured passes - while others, who were not eligible, have received ticket vouchers. They were to redeem the vouchers at ticketing centres by yesterday.

Cindyanne May, of Group Five - the principal contractor on the Moses Mabhida construction site - said she had sent the names of more than 5,000 construction workers to the committee, but the ticket allocation process had been a "mess".

"We were asked to send a comprehensive list of everyone who had worked on the stadium for three months or longer to the local organising commitee in October last year, which we did. We went through our entire access control list and sent it off to our client (the eThekwini municipality).

"They confirmed the list and sent it to the committee in January... We received notification from the committee earlier this month that the letters were ready and that a decision had been taken not to allocate tickets to senior directors, managers or engineers... the tickets, they said, were only for hourly workers. We received the vouchers and checked them against our master list. There aren't vouchers for everybody. We cannot work out how they did the allocation, as there is no consistency. Over 600 workers (who should have received tickets) have not received vouchers and some senior directors and managers who shouldn't have received tickets, have been allocated two tickets each."

May said the company was now receiving abusive phone calls from irate workers and sub-contractors whose expectations had been raised. "Twice we have asked for an explanation from the committee, but we haven't had any response."

While local organising committee spokesman Rich Mkhondo failed to respond to e-mailed questions sent by The Mercury, sub-contractors were fuming.

Warren Butler, the managing director of Rebcon Engineering, said he had received two tickets for himself, while only some of his employees had been allocated tickets.

"It just seems so haphazard. Workers on that stadium site sweated blood and tears, they deserve these tickets," he said.

Rasheed Amod, of Afripile, said none of 60 staff who had worked on the stadium had received tickets. The same applied to a host of other sub-contractors contacted by The Mercury. Shannon King, who is in charge of distributing the vouchers at Group Five, said some of the contracting companies appeared on the beneficiaries' list and some did not.

A version of this article by Colleen Dardagan originally appeared in The Mercury

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Episode 4: Shack Dwellers a Threat to the Cup

Download: MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis [2:57 minutes]


ABAHLALI baseMjondolo (ABM) will set up shacks outside Cape Town’s stadium on the eve of the World Cup to show the world how they live.

ABM deputy chairperson Mthobeli Zona told Sowetan: “We know the government will send the police to beat us in front of the media … and the whole world will know about our struggles.

“We live in dirty and smelling places. We have no jobs. We live shameful lives. There are no toilets here. There is no electricity. We have to pay R20 a month or 50c a day to use other people’s toilets,” he said.

Zona said the government should have used the money they spent on the Gautrain and Bus Rapid Transit system to “relocate shack dwellers to dry areas. What we don’t want is to be moved to Temporary Relocation Areas (TRAs).

“The government should put their cats and dogs in TRAs. They make us sick,” he said.

Another resident in Khayelitsha’s QQ Section, Nobantu Goniwe, said she would join the demonstration.

Having lived in QQ Section for the past 10 years, Goniwe complained that many people got tuberculosis because of the “hard living conditions.”

She complained that when Premier Helen Zille visited the area in winter when it was flooded, she wore gumboots.

“We live here and we don’t have gumboots. I just wish we could swap places with her,” Goniwe said.

She said the World Cup was not going to bring changes to their community where unemployment and crime were rife.

Teenagers Azola Zadunge, Thembinkosi Mdumela, and Mananga Mzubongile said they were excited about the World Cup and would watch the games at the Khayelitsha fan park. They said the World Cup had not benefited any youth in their community.

City of Cape Town spokesperson Pieter Cronjé said they would not let anyone put up a shack.

“The area around the stadium is already under security. It will be regrettable if people use the World Cup to air their grievances” he said.

a version of this article written by Francis Hweshe originally appeared in the Sowetan

Monday, June 14, 2010

Episode 3: South African army on high alert for World Cup

Download: MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis [3:49 minutes]

South African army on high alert for World Cup

South African soldiers will be on high alert during the football World Cup, the army boss said as the government voiced concern about violent protests during the tournament.

The military will also begin patrolling the national borders on April 1, taking over the duty from police as part of a broader security realignment meant to allow police to focus on fighting crime, Lieutenant General Solly Shoke said."We are ready to help where needed with the World Cup," Shoke told reporters in the capital Pretoria.

"All army leave has been cancelled over this period. We will be on high alert," he said. "We will be there in support of the South African Police Services."

"This World Cup is not about security. It's about enjoyment. People must be allowed to come here and enjoy the soccer. We don't see any threats"
to the tournament, he added.

The border patrols are part of South Africa's push to prevent trafficking in drugs or people, particularly as the World Cup's June 11 kick-off nears. South Africa last week proposed its first direct legislation to target trafficking, with maximum sentences of life imprisonment and a one million rand (136,000 dollar/101,000 euro) fine.

The new law will not be in place before the World Cup, but South Africa will train police to use existing legislation to tackle trafficking, said Ngoako Ramatlhodi, chair of parliament's justice committee.

"Anticipation of an increase in trafficking, especially for sexual purposes, ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, has focused attention on South Africa's ability to deal with trafficking," he said in Cape Town.The government on Thursday also expressed concern at the risk of violent protests during the four-week tournament.

South Africa has been rattled by a series of demonstrations over the last month, with impoverished communities demanding access to basic services and the powerful mini-bus taxi industry protesting a new public transport system.Street protests are a common feature of South African life, but some recently have been marred by shootings, arson and stonings.

"Obviously we are concerned," government spokesman Themba Maseko told journalists. "The violent and destructive nature of some of the protests is
unacceptable," he said. "We do not want to see these demonstrations, especially during the World Cup, when the country's attention and focus should be to be the best host ever for the 2010 FIFA World Cup."

The protests were "a symptom of accumulated discontent" over basic services like piped water and housing in poor neighbourhoods, he said."Our primary concern at this stage is the use of violence. The burning of libraries and other public facilities, destruction of property, we think is an unacceptable way of raising concerns in a democratic state," he said.

"The most ideal situation is obviously for a lot of these challenges or problems raised by communities and the taxi associations to be resolved well ahead of the World Cup. Obviously, that's our first prize," said Maseko.Many of South Africa's protests are less dramatic.

About 100 members of the South African Disability Alliance burned three wheelchair tyres near the Soccer City stadium, venue of the opening and final matches, to complain about poor handicap access at three stadiums.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Episode 2: Selling South Africa: Poverty, Politics and the 2010 FIFA World Cup [Part Two]

Download: MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis [4:01 minutes]

Selling South Africa: Poverty, Politics and the 2010 FIFA World Cup

To create a marketable image of South Africa, the national government and the International Marketing Council of South Africa formed a 2010
National Communication Partnership. The group is working closely with public relations firms across the continent to “change the image of the continent from one which is perceived as poverty stricken and unstable to one that is stable, prosperous and proactive.” The Council’s “Brand South Africa” strategy was most recently featured at the 2010 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where it pushed “South Africa’s role in influencing the global economic agenda and building the country’s reputation as a trade and investment destination.” The Brand South Africa group is a private-public partnership made up of government and domestic business elites, some of which are official World Cup sponsors.

International concern has largely been for the safety of tourists and players visiting South Africa during the tournament and not for those poor and disenfranchised South Africans who face violent crime while living in dire poverty. Indeed, few commentators have asked what benefit the games will have for those living in townships in sight of the new million dollar stadiums. Daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era – particularly poverty in black communities, lack of economic empowerment among disadvantaged groups, and a shortage of public transportation and housing. More than one-quarter of South Africa's population currently receives social grants, leading some to label it the largest welfare state in the world. South Africa has a 24 per cent unemployment rate with 50 per cent of the population living below the poverty line. At the same time, the richest members of society have increased their annual earnings by as much as 50 percent. According to the Gini Index – a measurement of household income inequalities – South Africa has the second most unequal distribution of income in the world, just behind its neighbor Namibia.

For these reasons ordinary working South Africans may see the billboards and advertising brought by the World Cup, but they are unlikely to see the games themselves. The ticket prices to the big event are likely to deter most of Africa's soccer enthusiasts. With 3 million tickets available, less than 100,000 have been sold in Africa as most Africans are not able to afford the expensive entry fees. Chief Executive Officer of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Danny Jordaan said that it is the first time in World Cup history that the host nation is not topping the ticket sales list. According to FIFA, the cheapest ticket will cost 55 Euros (570 Rand) for tickets that will entail the holder to sit behind goals. The cheapest ticket for the final is going for 275 Euros (2,842 Rand).

At the bottom end of the economic scale, are those who will only be impacted negatively by the World Cup. Like Cape Town’s street sellers, who are reportedly being driven from the city’s streets by police and a private security company. Police also recently relocated 600 people who had been camping alongside an inner city railway line in Cape Town to a transit zone on the outskirts of the city. While Danny Jordaan has promised no evictions, the record is against him thus far. These forced relocations draw on the legacy of apartheid era racial and spatial segregation. In this practice South Africa is not alone. It is estimated that the 1988 Seoul Olympics resulted in the eviction of 700,000 people; and the 2008 Beijing Olympics displaced 1.5 million residents.

A version of this article was written by Chris Webb, a South African journalist, scholar and activist living in Toronto. His writing has appeared in Canadian Dimension, New Internationalist, Canada's History and the Winnipeg Free Press. He is the Publishing Assistant at Canadian Dimension.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Episode 1: Selling South Africa: Poverty, Politics and the 2010 FIFA World Cup [Part One]

Download: MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis [4:44 minutes]

In South Africa, where massive amounts of public and private spending on the upcoming 2010 Soccer World Cup are expected to salve a faltering economy and crippling poverty. Most South Africans, however, will see little direct or sustained economic benefit from the games let alone muster the funds to even purchase a ticket.

What is trumpeted as a branding and investment remedy to South Africa’s economic woes may very well become another Greek tragedy – where the legacy of the 2004 Athens Olympics has contributed to an economic meltdown. These global games offer dual incentives to both local and foreign business elites and little to a frustrated local population. On the one hand, investment, sponsorship and tourism opens new markets to foreign capital while local business elites profit from a heightened global image. At least, this is the story sold by both the state and World Cup planners. Central to this strategy is selling South Africa as a marketable and consumable brand.

South African planners have estimated that the World Cup will contribute approximately $5.5-billion (U.S.) to the economy and create 415,000 jobs, but these figures are ephemeral and unmeasurable. For the 50 per cent of South Africans living below the poverty line the games will not lead to better housing, healthcare or employment. The World Cup is the playing field for many of the debates dominating South African currently: the nationalization of mines and resource industries; land redistribution and privatization of energy and telephone services. This debate also reflects the bad blood and deep divisions between the ANC and its trade union and communist allies. The international football body FIFA, and its corporate sponsors, want South Africans to forget this debate is happening. Their belief that global games are beneficial to the world is not only highly misleading, but it presents neoliberalism as the only solution to national economic development. It asks the leading question: How would South Africans get better roads and sporting facilities if not for the World Cup? Their discourse is hard to counter. Behind it are the powers of a world built
upon power relations – adding the sexiness of sport gives great symbolic force to these unequal relations.

For one month an estimated 400,000 fans will descend on cities throughout South Africa, and millions more will tune in to watch the largest sporting spectacle hosted, for the first time, by an African nation. Beer guzzling soccer fans at World Cup stadiums will have no choice but to down American Budweiser and Coca-Cola in terms with strict FIFA sponsorship rules. Fans will fill seats at stadiums costing over $1.8-billion (U.S.) and travel on railways and roads specially upgraded for them. From this vantage point they will see the World Cup’s real winners: Adidas, Coca-Cola, Emirates, Sony, Hyundai, Visa, Budweiser, Castrol Oil, Continental Tire, McDonalds, YingLi Solar and Indian IT supergiant Mahindra Satyam. In addition, there are five national sponsors, which include South Africa’s largest bank FNB, British Petroleum and the semi-privatized telecommunications company Telkom.

This spending in stadium construction and infrastructure renewal comes as the nation is experiencing its first recession in seventeen years with GDP growth for 2009 now in the red at -0.3 percent. High levels of private investment are supposed to dampen the negative impact of global recession, but as some analysts have pointed out, the games need to do more than just ensure a short-lived tourism boom. If public funds can be found to pad tourist seats, then funds can, and must, be found to deal with the impact of low economic growth on the most disadvantaged sectors of the population. Township shack dwellers, for example, whose numbers have grown by 50 per cent in the first ten year of post-apartheid democracy, have little to gain from billion dollar stadiums.

This article was written by Chris Webb, a South African journalist, scholar and activist living in Toronto. His writing has appeared in Canadian Dimension, New Internationalist, Canada's History and the Winnipeg Free Press. He is the Publishing Assistant at Canadian Dimension.