Our moment of truth

2010-07-10 10:00

Business leaders say that the ­benefits of the World Cup will be

felt for years to come and that it has been the best selling point for South

Africa since Nelson ­Mandela’s release.

Many of the polled leaders ­pointed to a renewed sense of

self-belief, nation building and hosting visitors with aplomb as the greatest

monuments to success of this month-long extravaganza.

But they believe the country needs to build on its World Cup

achievements to be viewed as a ­success by future generations.

Roger Jardine, chief executive of construction firm Aveng, said:

“The need for public-private partnerships has been elevated during this period.

These must be ­expedited so that the nation can leverage the balance sheets,

technical skills and project management expertise of the private ­sector to

deliver water, power, roads, hospitals and general infrastructure. With such

programmes come new skills and jobs.”

Aveng built Soccer City, the ­stadium that will be used for the

­final match today.

Absa chief executive Maria Ramos said the World Cup propelled the

country and the continent to the point where the world’s views and expectations

of Africans and South Africans would have changed forever.

“More importantly, perhaps, I hope that we will continue to believe

in ourselves and this beautiful country on this great continent.

“It is our confidence and ability to continue to do great things

that will imbue confidence in others.”

Thandiwe January-Mclean, the chief executive of SA Tourism, said

tourists’ good impressions of the country and the World Cup were positive for

the country.

“People will tell their families, friends and colleagues about

their positive experiences.

“The greatest endorsement of the country came through social media,

with visitors and stars ­telling the whole world how they have experienced South

Africa, the World Cup and its people. That kind of endorsement is as effective

as word of mouth,” she said.

An urgent challenge for January-Mclean is to encourage more locals

to visit their own country.

“More South Africans visited parts of the country they had never

been to while following their ­favourite teams. We need to build on this

momentum.”

January-Mclean said the authorities ought to consider continuing

visible policing because it ­contributed to South Africa hosting a relatively

safe competition.

“South Africa has improved her credentials to host other major

­global events after a successful World Cup,” she said.

The hysteria surrounding the World Cup may have led to some people

falling deeper into the debt trap as they may have spent money they did not

budget for.

Thami Bolani, the chairperson of the National Consumer Forum, said:

“At the first sign of trouble, consumers need to speak to their creditors and

approach debt counsellors. This will help them avoid unpleasant experiences such

as ­repossessions and blacklistings.”

He said the transport infrastructure that had been put in place

should be properly maintained to ensure continued benefit to ­consumers.

For Jardine, the strong leadership and a commitment to work

­together were the hallmarks of this World Cup.

“Our new stadiums, which were finished safely and ahead of

schedule, are world-class examples of ­African ingenuity and expertise. Together

with the massive upgrading of road and rail systems, ­airports and

communications ­infrastructure, these have helped South Africa mitigate the full

brunt of the global recession and have ­unblocked obstacles to further ­economic

growth,” he said.

Ramos said the world would have seen that South Africa as a

country, and Africa as a continent, was filled with great potential, talent and

­opportunities – on and off the football pitch.

“As a nation, we have demonstrated that we have the capacity,

infrastructure, technology, know­ledge and, most importantly, the determination

and passion to get things done well,” said Ramos.

These views were echoed by Iraj Abedian, the chief executive of Pan

African Advisory Services.

“It is going to be our duty to harness the experiences, and

transfer the technical and administrative competence, to run municipalities and

implement service delivery.

“This could become a turning point in our developmental trajectory

as a country,” he said.

Bolani said local consumers ­deserved the better service they had

grown accustomed to over the past month.

“Retailers need to understand that part of what consumers are

buying is decent treatment,” he said.



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