Tim Modise

2010 will be a success

2006-12-06 09:27

Tim Modise

It has been a while since I last expressed my views on these pages and it is great to be back. I have had to take time to consider whether to leave my current position as a radio talk-show host to join the Local Organising Committee of the World Cup 2010.

It is now common knowledge that I will be taking up the position of Executive Director: Communication and Commercial Affairs in the New Year. The decision was not an easy one to take given the over two decades that I have had in broadcasting. It was however a very correct and necessary decision to take for various reasons.

Reading newspapers and other media over the past six months probably has been giving a lot of people - here at home and abroad - an impression that the preparations for hosting the biggest football spectacle was a disaster waiting to happen. But nothing could be further from the truth.

I doubt that the reports that have cast aspersions are themselves deliberately malicious. I want to believe that most of the reports are informed by limited or confused understanding of what the World Cup 2010 in South Africa is all about.

The World Cup 2010 is a very interesting and unfolding event that started when South Africa, through the Football Association Safa, approached the international governing body of football, Fifa, to give the country the opportunity to host the Cup in 2006.

Many people will remember that when Germany was chosen ahead of South Africa to host the 2006 World Cup, it was by one vote promised but withheld by one Charles Dempsey. We all know the anger and consternation that that aroused throughout the African continent and diasporas.

However the football leadership, together with the most senior leadership in this country including former Presidents Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk as well as the Archbishop Desmond Tutu, led by President Thabo Mbeki, made an impassioned plea to Fifa to give South Africa and indeed Africa, a chance to host the world in this beautiful country.

The world listened and complied. Our nation erupted in a riotous celebration. Mandela smiled and cried tears of joy. Mbeki beamed and danced with the common man. De Klerk punched the air triumphantly as Tutu shouted, "Hallelujah, Praise the Lord" in celebration.

We had once again achieved another goal. A goal that allowed South Africa to come of age peacefully by proving to a supportive and trusting world that we can host the world as well as turn the biggest sporting spectacle into a world-class event.

It's not as bad as it seems

So, where does the scepticism come from? Why the suggestion that the rights to host the event may be given to another country? Crime perhaps? Lack of infrastructure, finance and planning maybe? Not necessarily.

Fifa, following its own well-known processes, has signed the contract with Safa, and by extension with South Africa, to host the World Cup in 2010. The LOC, based on the contractual obligations with Fifa, has met most of its deliverables ahead of time. The government has through the Treasury made all the relevant budgetary allocations for the construction of stadia.

The country already has a track record of having hosted the Rugby World Cup in 1995 when we were still becoming a democratic state and having to contend with political violence and an economy and currency that were battling to pick up.

Currently, the economy has undergone growth for 32 consecutive quarters, the most sustained in over fifty years. Over the next three years, we expect to see new and modern infrastructure in telecommunications, energy and transportation developed as more than 370 billion rand has been budgeted for this purpose.

Things are looking up

Things are changing and will change despite the occasional setbacks and the self-fulfilling pessimism that sometimes poisons the momentum of change and improvement underway in the country. For me personally, I am persuaded by the joy, excitement and constructive optimism that permeate our society.

It is my belief and observation that the majority of South Africans want theirs to be a reconciled, empowering and transformative nation that is at peace with neighbours.

I deeply appreciate the opportunity to be part of a major and difficult task of propelling our society forward. The World Cup is not only about football in 2010, but about how we build a nation and how we measure up as a developing country.

  • Tim Modise hosts a weekday show on Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk and will be taking up the post of Executive Director: Communication and Commercial Affairs for World Cup 2010 in the New Year.

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