21 August 2008
On behalf of the government of the Republic of South Africa I am very glad to be present with you today. But first let us congratulate the government and the people of China for hosting the best Olympics ever. From the spectacular opening ceremony to the unfailing courtesy of all the volunteers and the performances of the athletes representing the Peoples Republic of China we can all agree that these Olympic Games are simply phenomenal.
Our theme for the 2010 FIFA World Cup is Ke Nako, Celebrate Africa’s Humanity. And you can all be assured that together Africa and the world will celebrate our common heritage and our bonds of humanity.
On 15 May 2004, we all watched with great anticipation as FIFA, the world football governing body, decided that the 2010 World Cup would be held in South Africa – a first both for South Africa and for our continent. From the onset we were very clear that should our bid be successful we would be hosting an African World Cup not just a South African World Cup event.
The staging of the event on African soil presents us with an enormous opportunity to showcase our country and our continent. I want to assure and reassure all of you present today that we are on track to host one of the best and most successful World Cup of Soccer ever held.
For us this event is about much more than sports – it is about Africa and Africa’s ability to host the world. It is about getting out from underneath the welter of negative press coverage our continent receives. It is about informing the world that Africa has much to offer, that our people are ready to receive the world, ready to host those who come to the World Cup and that when they come they will receive a wonderfully unforgettable African experience.
Hosting the FIFA World Cup of Soccer is about more than a sporting event. For us in South Africa sports is linked both to our struggle for freedom and democracy and to our national identity. The overwhelming majority of our people are soccer loving fans and the ups and downs, the victories and defeats of our national side impact on their moods and tempo. When the national side wins we are upbeat, confident and walk on air and when they lose the collective national sigh is long and audible.
We are here in China during the Olympics to learn from our Chinese colleagues just as we went to Germany to learn from our German colleagues. And in the spirit of generosity our colleagues have shared their experiences with us and we will in turn incorporate the best practices as we continue our 2010 preparations.
For us 2010 represents an opportunity to cement partnerships at a number of levels – first partnership between and among the FIFA representatives, the LOC, the GCIS, SA Tourism and the IMC. Second there is the forging of a partnership with other African countries for this is the African World Cup of Soccer. Third there is a partnership with domestic and international sponsors of the FIFA 2010 World Cup. Fourth a partnership with the people of our country for this is also their World Cup. And fifth it is a partnership with each and every visitor who will come to our country to see the 2010 World Cup we assure them that they will have an unbelievable experience and that they will be subjected to the very best South Africa and South Africans have to offer. We will celebrate Africa’s humanity with them.
It is our people who will be our Ambassadors to our guests from around the world. In many respects they, like the volunteers in blue in China will be the first point of contact with our global visitors and that first impression will be a positive lasting impression.
Our overarching goal is to host an incredible event on our continent that will be the envy of all. To achieve this goal the partnerships in all the spheres I have identified need to recognise that the eyes of the world are already on us but the stare will intensify right after the Olympics in Beijing are over.
We project to the world our readiness to host the World Cup and we project our humanity and our humility. We see the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup as an opportunity to also demonstrate to the world the positive socio-economic developments in our country, our region and our continent. We are confident that global perceptions of Africa and of South Africa will change.
Ours in the run up to 2010, is a massive “Highlight and Accentuate the Positive” campaign which we undertake fully cognisant that where there are shortcomings in our preparations and timelines they need to be pointed out honestly and in the spirit of co-operation and mutual interest. A well managed successful FIFA World Cup of Soccer is in the best interests of all of us – the public and the private sector, the people and the media.
The key messages I want to reiterate today are the following:
- Our stadiums will be ready for 2010. If fact they will be ready before the World Cup as some of the stadiums are also the venues for the Confederations Cup. We are on target to meet the FIFA deadlines for stadia readiness. All stadia will be ready for 2010 and FIFA is completely satisfied with construction progress to date.
- We have an advanced well developed technical infrastructure – our banking and IT services are on par with the rest of the world. So visitors coming to South Africa will not face challenges communicating with relatives abroad.
- Our physical infrastructure is being totally upgraded and will be ready for 2010. In particular I want to allay concerns any of you may about electricity supply, an accessible and safe public transportation system, crime, safety and security.
- Accommodation is plentiful and of a very high calibre in all the host cities.
- The pre and post 2010 tourism experience will be exceptional. Tourism SA is in the process of linking 2010 to a range of other tourism experiences throughout the country and the region.
- Travel throughout the region will as far as possible be relatively easy and seamless – we are even in negotiations on a UNIVISA to enable tourists to travel in the region on a single visa.
- As an African World Cup Africa will benefit from the 2010 World Cup of Soccer. A set of FIFA Legacy projects of benefit to our continent is already at an advanced stage of planning.
As we continue to prepare for hosting 2010 we are mindful that the event is bigger than the moment. It goes beyond 2010 as its impact will undoubtedly stretch well into the 21st Century.
We are aware that negative stories will from time to time emerge in the international media so it is important that we dispel these negative stories with facts about our progress. This is not by way of saying that we should not to be critical of shortcomings in our preparations – we must be critical, for that will only increase our state of readiness.
I say with confidence that the construction of stadiums and renovations of existing ones is continuing a pace. Improvements to our transport system continue as are other projects central to the successful hosting of this prestigious event.
As government we remain committed to the guarantees that we have made to FIFA with regard to creating an enabling and receptive environment for the many thousands of visitors who will be visiting our country to watch the football tournament. Our visitors will be given a total African experience that will remain with them for years to come. They will leave South Africa as our praise singers, ready to return and ready to urge others to come. Communication and marketing therefore are central to achieving these goals.
The next two years will undoubtedly be a time when we repeatedly test our state of readiness. Our systems will be put to stringent tests and we will be obliged to report on a regular basis what we are doing to ensure a successful event.
Informed by our common goal of building a better Africa and a better world, we will strive to communicate a message of unity with one integrated and coherent voice.
This will be Africa’s moment to shine. In our communication of the 2010 World Cup, we will give real meaning to our commitment that this will be an African World Cup.
Our partnership with our people means that we must prepare them to be Ambassadors. We are all involved in the World Cup whether we are the taxi drivers who pick up tourists at the airports, workers in the service industry, people on the street who are stopped and asked for information, or official translators trained in the many global languages. Partnership in this sense means training our people to be official and unofficial hosts. Our people’s warmth, their hospitality, their friendliness and their compassion will shine through as they meet our guests from around the world on African soil.
The period building up to the tournament presents us with an opportunity to express our commitment to our continent and to cementing unity of purpose and pride of place among all of us. The many skills and talents and the ingenuity that will, without question emerge in the next two years can only benefit our country post 2010.
Our hosting an event of this scale and magnitude is inextricably linked to the broader agenda of the African Renaissance for, our destiny is linked to that of the rest of Africa and we are working to build a better South Africa, a better Africa and a better world.
In January 2006, the AU Heads of State and Governments declared 2007 the International Year of the African Football (IYoAF) in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). CAF understands that sport is an instrument for the promotion of unity, solidarity, peace and reconciliation, gender mainstreaming, sustainable economic development and poverty reduction, and the promotion of healthy lifestyles among youth.
The build-up to the 2010 World Cup and the hosting of the event is a time to share with the rest of humanity all the good things about us and our continent which is precisely why we say “Ke Nako, celebrate Africa’s humanity.” When we talk of Africa’s humanity we talk of the contribution that this continent and its people have made to the development of humanity. But we also talk of the well spring of good will, the compassion, the caring and the warmth of the people of our continent.
President Thabo Mbeki said that: "The Government will leave no stone unturned to ensure that everything is done to host a tournament that meets the expectations of billions of football fans across the world. Together we will ensure the resounding success of the first FIFA African World Cup." This commitment places a huge obligation on all of us to strive to act in ways that will give meaning to the commitment made by the President and ensure that it is Africans themselves who share our stories with the world in line with our slogan- “Ke Nako, celebrate Africa’s humanity.”
Ours is a message that says Ke Nako, Celebrate Africa’s Humanity.
I thank you.
Minister in The Presidency, Dr Essop Pahad
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)