One (or more) of the posts that disappeared into the black hole which was 123-reg.co.uk’s hosting disaster was on the World Cup, which is due to make landfall here in a mere 3 years from now. Currently, there is a little confusion over whether Cape Town will actually get to see any football played here during that competition.
As usual in South Africa, the issues over building the new stadium are political, financial and race-related. And, with everyone blaming everyone else, nothing is actually being done to build our new stadium at Green Point. Can you imagine a World Cup in South Africa without Cape Town? Really? This city is the icon of SA. Have you seen our mountain? It’s bloody lovely.
First off, before we even consider why no construction has begun, let’s look at the mentality of the people in charge. The new stadium, an example of technology and cutting-edge design, a beacon of new hope for an embattled continent will be grandly named: The African Renaissance Stadium or The ARS.
Great thinking, guys.
OK – cash first. The ARS was meant to cost about R2.5 billion (GBP180m, USD350m). That’s a fair amount of money for a city where about half the residents don’t have access to basic services like water and electricity. This was the original price, which then suddenly increased by R1.2 billion for no apparent reason (as these projects do) but has now settled at a much more reasonable R2.7 billion, meaning that we’re just R180 million short of our target. It’s peanuts, really.
And here comes the politics. The City of Cape Town is contolled by the Democratic Alliance (DA). The Western Cape Province and the National Government is controlled (sometimes) by the African National Congress (ANC). These two parties don’t see eye to eye on many issues. And ooh look – here’s another.
The City refuses to pay out a cent more than they said they would, while the Provincial and National Authorities are refusing to make up the shortfall. And while negotiation would seem to be a great way out of this, it’s become a battle of wills and the parties involved refuse to budge. Anyone hear that clock ticking?
I promised you a bit of racial tension too and I’d hate to let you down. Speaking frankly, in South Africa: football (soccer) is a sport played and watched by black people and egg-chasing (rugby) is a sport played and watched by white people. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but this isn’t really much of an over-simplification – it’s just how things are. And Green Point is a predominantly (almost exclusively) white suburb. And they don’t want that black sport coming into their back yard.
Of course, there’s the usual bluff over increased traffic and noise, which is fair enough I suppose, but in actual fact, it’s about racial division and prejudices.
“So where do you stand on this?”, I hear both you readers asking.
Well, I know that R2.7 billion could go a long, long way to sorting out a lot of the problems Cape Town faces. But I also recognise that when (if?) this stadium is built and the World Cup comes to Cape Town, the money generated for local businesses and therefore the added job creation and increase in money coming into the city and surrounds will far outweigh the inital costs of the build.
South Africa knew the problems it faced when it bid for the right to hold 2010. Now that it’s won that right, it must deliver. This isn’t about throwing money at problems which might help in the short term, this is an investment for the long term – it’s an opportunity which could really be a turning point for Cape Town and for South Africa.
Thabo, Ebrahim and Helen: I know you’re reading this (ja, right!) please let’s just get it sorted out.
Whatever it takes.