Reality hits home for South Africa after the world cup

August 20, 2010 | Filed Under: Blog, Blog Today, UK Box Update 
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While you may have put your own personal nightmares of the World Cup behind you (the phrase “time heals all wounds” apparently doesn’t apply to being spanked by the Germans), there is a very real and pressing problem facing South Africa today.

$1.5 billion. Did you ever ask yourself how exactly a developing country like South Africa could afford to cough up that kind of money to build those shiny new World Cup stadiums You know, those stadiums we got to enjoy all that good football in Well, it turns out the South African government is pondering that very same question.

Sepp Blatter calls them “architectural jewels” but you might find South Africans calling them something else completely! The government’s attempts to try and recoup some of the $1.5 billion, and indeed turn them into productive sources of income, have predictably hit their first stumbling block. It was hoped that local professional football and rugby teams would use them as their new homes. And for some that is the case – Port Elizabeth, for example, will house a second division rugby side as the old rugby stadium will be demolished.

But the future is not so clear for some of the others. With no local pro teams in and around Polokwane, the 40,000 seater Peter Mokaba Stadium will have to be supported by the national treasury who will be faced with the $2.24 million annual maintenance costs, at least until a suitable solution can be found.

Furthermore, the temporary construction jobs that were created to build those stadiums are no longer required. Consequently, unemployment figures don’t make for comfortable reading. Taken from the AFP:

79,000 non-farm jobs were lost in the first quarter of this year, and 242,000 in the 12 months ending in March. The jobless rate is above 25 percent—and more than 30 percent if those who’ve given up job-hunting are included.

Its not all doom and gloom though. Again taken from the AFP:

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has brushed off concerns about white elephants, saying the tournament will boost the economy by 0.5 percent this year.
He also said the new infrastructure would bring long-term benefits to South Africa—not all of them financial.

“If you built a road, it doesn’t disappear the day after the World Cup,” he told a press conference.” This tournament has also united South Africans” in a way not seen since the end of apartheid in 1994, he said.

It is difficult to say right now whether the World Cup has been good for South Africa. In fact all this talk of roads and white elephants has got me slightly confused. One thing is clear though – South Africa has some hard work ahead.

In your view, has the world cup been good for south africa? Please feel free to comment below.

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