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Another side to the World Cup in South Africa 0

As the World Cup gathers momentum in South Africa, so do its critics. Explo Nani-Kofi investigates the real impact of this tournament on a nation still recovering from apartheid oppression. Nani-Kofi insists that poor South Africans ‘pay a big price’ for this monumental sporting extravaganza.

The World Cup has been touted as one of the greatest achievements in South Africa since the end of apartheid. In reality, it has brought into sharp focus glaring divisions.

One of the hypes of the characteristic features of the World Cup is that it will unite the nation. This is demonstrably false, since large sections of the poor people who should be better off in the post-apartheid period cannot even attend or watch the matches as they cannot pay for the tickets.

Poor people have been evicted from the homes they have lived in for years as these buildings are being taken over by property developers in preparation for the World Cup.

For the enjoyment and entertainment of the rich and the other World Cup tourists, ordinary South Africans have to pay a big price. People have been made homeless in order to make room for Coca Cola and other multinational companies to operate and make their profits. There are countless other examples in the rest of the world where the poor pay for the recklessness and leisure of the rich.

In a recent article by Richard Calland in Contretemps, he points to the anti-transformation conservative wing of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), which is not interested in human dignity, equality and freedom but has ‘an agenda of greedy personal enrichment, concerned with transferring resources of the state and private sector to a ruthless few’, and added that ‘they are uncaring of the plight of the poor, arrogantly dismissive of inequality and contemptuous of democratic institutions that seek to protect the poor and vulnerable by insisting on accountability of the powerful’.

Scholar and activist Patrick Bond lists the World Cup’s six red cards as follows: ‘(1) dubious priorities and overspending; (2) FIFA super-profits and political corruption; (3) heightened foreign debt and imports amidst generalized economic hardships; (4) the breaking of numerous trickle down promises; (5) the suspension of democratic freedoms; and (6) repression of rising protest.’ The Centre for Civil Society (CCS), directed by Patrick Bond, at the University of KwaZulu-Natal is organising a daily-updated World Cup Watch along side its Social Protest Observatory.

Patrick Bond doesn’t only criticise but lists necessary actions to remedy these red cards. Among these actions are the ‘imposition of a windfall tax on profiteering construction companies, directing revenues straight to neglected township facilities, a full rethink of the government’s relaxation of exchange controls and its high-end infrastructure spending, re-imposition of the capital controls so as to halt capital flight and new housing/services subsidies for townships and rural areas’.

With regard to the repressive measures put in place against protest, he argues that ‘the necessary U-turn would include a formal ceasefire by a police force now aiming its guns at the people… South Africa’s securocrats should now point fingers and detective investigations at the real criminals, from Zurich, a wicked mafiosi group whose nickname now is “Thiefa”, for obvious reasons’.

Another aspect of the business logic of the games is the way the multinational companies are making profits that will be taken out of South Africa, whilst ordinary South Africans employed during the period are not being paid properly.

Groups of workers have resorted to street protests and in some cases litigation to win victories for the displaced and homeless. Last Monday there was a series of strikes at almost half of the World Cup stadiums as guards are being paid less than one tenth of what they were promised when they were employed. There have been violent scuffles between the police and guards.

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By Explo Nani-Kofi – Pambazuka News

Explo Nani-Kofi is coordinator of KILOMBO – Centre for Civil Society and African Self-Determination and the KILOMBO Community Education Project, as well as editor of Kilombo Pan-African Community Journal.

This article was originally published by Counterfire.

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