South Africa is still basking in the afterglow of having successfully hosted the 2010 Fifa World Cup tournament. They won’t stop talking about it.
About how there was no major catastrophe, no players were kidnapped, no one was gunned down in a stadium, no hastily constructed buildings collapsed, and the Gautrain actually did what it was supposed to do.
Good grief, even President Obama has jumped on to the bandwagon, claiming he always knew South Africa could do it! In many ways this event has been a bit like a family wedding: once the bride and groom are safely ensconced in the honeymoon suite, everyone forgets about all the fights and foibles that characterised the preparatory stages.
Take for instance the transport situation. While more than R11 billion was allocated to upgrading the public transport system, the first few days of the tournament saw nightmarish traffic jams compounded by bus-driver strikes.
And let’s not forget the thousands of fans who missed the match in Durban because of petulant private jets refusing to shove over and make space for the common man.
Reparations are reportedly going to cost a frightful amount but still, you can’t replace the lost once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
And then there were the security hiccups. The strike by security guards which led to the police having to take over at additional cost to the government. Isolated incidents such as that involving an American tourist being attacked by four armed men, and foreign journalists being robbed hardly raised eyebrows in a country so accustomed to shock and horror on the crime front.
The rapid response displayed by the justice system during the tournament may turn out to be disadvantageous to the authorities. You can’t blame ordinary South Africans for feeling bitter when crimes involving foreign journalists and tourists are quickly resolved, while local detainees can sometimes wait years for a trial, not to mention the poor investigation and lack of follow through that characterise the system in real (non World Cup) life.
Of course, the real reason I am raising all these non-issues is because I am more than a little jealous of my cousins south of the river.
I’m only tired of hearing about this success story because it wasn’t our success story, but theirs. Although everyone is at great pains to be politically correct and reiterate that its Africa’s World Cup rather than just South Africa’s, we all know the truth — the rest of us couldn’t possibly have pulled it off with the panache and pizzazz that they have.
I mean, let’s just imagine — What if this event had come to Zimbabwe? If by some bizarre fluke we had actually won a bid to host the tournament here, how might that have gone?
Well firstly, we would have rigged the results of the qualifiers so that the United States and England were eliminated at the earliest possible opportunity. Failing this and being a people blessed with a great sense of humour, we would then have dug a series of blair toilets outside our stadia — exclusively for use by the British in honour of their former Prime Minister!
We would also have ensured that all our chefs (and I don’t mean the kind that does the cooking!) had tickets for the most exclusive VIP seating. These would not have been for entertaining corporate clients, or for any discernible marketing effort.
Goodness no! Who needs to wine and dine potential business partners, encourage investors and court customers when one can chill with one’s vazukuru ( sometimes also known as war vets!) in the lap of luxury that one doesn’t have to pay for?
If South Africa thinks Eskom’s splurge of R12 million on World Cup tickets for executives and guests was scandalous, we could have shown them a thing or two. Can you picture the spread some high profile public officials might have laid? The one area where we could have matched South Africa was in the Lebo M saga.
The guy was reportedly paid R5,7 million to walk away from the closing ceremony because he was refusing to play nicely with his fellow producers. He later told the press that he had honoured his side of the bargain 120%. Go figure! It won’t be difficult if you are Zimbabwean — we are accustomed to people being paid for non-performance. I guess that’s why the prime minister’s cabinet reshuffle came as such a shock to the system!
Ah well, no use frittering away valuable time on yearnings and imaginings. Fact is, South Africa executed well. And in the spirit of ubuntu, we acknowledge their victory and share in it as our own. After all, we are well if those around us are well.
Thembe Sachikonye writes in her personal capacity