Sunday, August 09, 2009

world cup blues

We read that SOUTH AFRICA'S 2010 World Cup looms in less than a year now at a cost to the host government and FIFA, world football's governing body, of at least £4 billion. When the month-long football fest is over, South Africans will be left with 10 magnificent state-of-the-art stadiums.
Stephen Maseko lives in a corrugated iron and mud shack without electricity, running water or a toilet in the shadow of Mbombela Stadium. He knows his home will be demolished before the stadium hosts the first of its four World Cup matches. "I find it difficult to feel proud that we are hosting this World Cup," he said. "To tell you the truth, I do not have time to think about football. My worries are greater."
The 46,000-seat, billion-rand (£74 million) Mbombela Stadium, bristling with 21st-century technology and supported by 18 giant pylons resembling giraffes, was built on 118 hectares of ancestral land from which the Matsafeni, a Swazi tribal clan, were forcibly removed and offered compensation of just one rand, or 7 pence sterling (raised to 8.7m rand, or £655,000, after a series of prolonged court cases).
Pretoria high court judge Ntendeya Mavundla told Mbombela's African National Congress-dominated council that its treatment of the Matsafeni was not much different from that of "colonialists who usurped land from naïve Africans in return for shiny buttons and mirrors."
When the ANC speaker of the Mbombela Council, 44-year-old Jimmy Mohlala, blew the whistle on a 40m rand (£3m) scam between his fellow ANC councillors and the stadium's commercial developers, senior ANC politicians demanded his resignation.
Mohlala refused to step down and was subsequently shot dead by masked gunmen at his home. His assassins have not been caught and police have not investigated the fraud.

Some 70,000 labourers working on the 2010 stadiums, and other World Cup infrastructure such as the new futuristic railway system with British-built engines and carriages, between Johannesburg Airport and the city centre, went on strike last month for better wages. Some labourers on 2010 projects were earning as little as 800 rand (£60) a month. Mildred Mpundu, a single mother of four, was earning 2000 rand (£150) a month with overtime as a labourer at Johannesburg's Soccer City, where the opening and final World Cup matches will be held. Mildred said she could only give her family meat on Sundays, and she added: "People will come to the stadium and think it is very nice. They won't even know that the people who built it can't afford to go inside."
Union official Lesiba Seshoga, who oversaw negotiations at Cape Town's Green Point, Durban's Moses Madhiba and Port Elizabeth's Nelson Mandela stadiums, said:"These workers are not going to benefit from the World Cup in that none of them will be able to afford to watch a game."

Andile Mngxitama, a columnist for the mass circulation Sowetan daily newspaper, said he fears the 2010 World Cup will turn South Africa into a big fun park, with foreign visitors enjoying levels of comfort, safety and security that ordinary people can only dream of. "When the tournament is over," Mngxitama continued, "we will be sitting with major world-class stadiums in a country that can't feed or educate its people. The truth is we don't need the World Cup. Politicians and their connections need it."

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