Made in China

2012-04-22 13:29

A few weeks ago the Department of Trade and Industry and many others criticised SASCOC for team South Africa that will wear kits made in China when representing South Africa at the Olympics.

It is very easy for anyone sitting behind a computer to criticise SASCOC without understanding what SASCOC and its affiliated federations go through to get sponsorship deals.

The reality is that there is not enough support for Athletes, the support often comes after winning a world title or a medal at the Olympics; no one cares about the trouble the Athlete had to go through to get to the number 1 spot on the podium.

Just a couple of days ago my little brother came home with a track suit, T-shirt and 2 pairs of training shoes. He got these from his sponsor and will wear these in the US representing team South Africa later this year.

The boy was very excited, he couldn't wait to show me his new gear. So I looked at the labels to see where these were made. And yep you guessed it. They were made in China with the exception of the track suit.

The reality is that when you are desperate and need help urgently, you won't care much about where that help comes from. Think about it, why do poor people eat food from rubbish bins?

Being an Athlete is not easy, you need travel insurance, flights, accommodation, food, gym facilities, and so on. These things cost money. Athletes often struggle to secure sponsorship so they end up not participating in competitions whilst they might be the best at what they do.

Many say well why doesn't the government help? In many cases the government does but cannot afford to help everyone at the same time so instead of giving each Athlete R20 000.00 for the flight, they give each a R5000.00 so you can see how much the Athletes must contribute.

Then when they come back with a gold medal, you see companies with their banners lining up to take advantage of the publicity that comes with being associated with a champion.

So bless the Chinese for taking advantage of the situation whilst South African businesses wait to see who will come back with a gold medal at the Olympics.

This week I went through my wardrobe just to see where my clothes were made before I could write about SASCOC being China's biyatch. I was shocked to find that out of 57 items, only 2 were made in South Africa, 1 in Viatnam and 3 made in Mauritius, the rest were all made in China.

I recall one of my lecturers sharing a story of a jacket he bought for R100.00, the jacket had 12 zips; in South Africa the Zips alone would cost R100.00 without other materials or labour. The jacket was made in China and this is why no one can compete with China. They have cheap labour and have too many poor people to feed.

The sad part is that during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, my South African flag was made in China, my Vuvuzela was made in China, my track suit and jersey were made in China. Not a single item was made in South Africa when I went to the fan park to watch the final game.

I never cared much about where my clothes came from until this SASCOC sponsorship deal. Always heard about factories closing down and Textile industry workers taking wage cuts just to keep the industry alive but was too ignorant to care.

Why should I care when I'm not the one facing retrenchment I thought to myself. Now I know why I should care, because my fellow South Africans will lose their jobs and won't be able to provide for their families.

They will become indigent, depend on the government for everything as if we don't have enough of those.

Whilst I understand why SASCOC took the deal from China, it makes no sense for our government to allow cheap Chinese clothing taking away thousands of jobs South Africans who will depend on the State for their well-being.

So in the name of democracy, the made in China label will continue to flood our streets with amaFong Kong. Our government will never do anything to upset the Chinese government (refer to the Dalai Lama Visa saga).

But you and I can revive the Textile industry, by simply not buying anything that bears the Made in China label. Many have said this and few have actually done it. From now on, I pledge to only buy clothing items that have the Made in South Africa label.

China might influence the South African government into taking whatever crap they dish out, but they cannot force us into buying their crap. So think about our unemployment rate the next time you walk into a store.

Think about the people who have had to take wage cuts just to keep their jobs when food prices continue to go up, I hope and pray that your next shopping bag will be filled with goods made in South Africa.

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