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The future of South Africa after the World Cup

HDN | 7/9/2010 12:00:00 AM | GİLA BENMAYOR

South Africa should exert efforts, at least equal to the efforts for the World Cup, to solve its problems.

I am one of those fortunate people who watched the semi-final game between Germany and Spain at the World Cup in South Africa.

I will not hide it but the game which ended with the victory of Spain was either the second or the third soccer match I had watched in my entire life.

I have visited South Africa twice. So, my aim was rather to see how much progress this country has made through the World Cup.

My first trip to South Africa was eight years ago to follow a Zorlu Group investment in the textile sector. Almost everyone can say that South Africa has handled the World Cup safe and sound.

Following the FIFA’s decision, 10 stadiums were built, or renewed, in six years. They are superb.

I have to confess that while watching the Moses Mabhida Stadium over a hill top in the city of Durban in Kwazulu-Natal, I was a little jealous. “Why don’t we have a similar one in Istanbul?” I found myself asking.

The stadium hosted Spain-Germany game is in the shape of an ellipse half of which is transparent. It has high sidewalls and a 350 meter-long arch on top.

I witnessed how easily 61,000 people watching the semi-final match entered and left the stadium without any problem or clogging.

[HH] Passed the test successfully, but…

Stadia are the pride of South Africa and as a local newspaper put it, “After the Pyramids, Africa has built such a magnificent piece of work for the first time.”

A total of 11 million bricks, 80,000 cubic meters of cement, 16,000 tons of steel were used to build the stadia.

It’s been said that people in South Africa get united more due to the World Cup.

South Africa has the highest crime rate (50 murders, 150 rapes and 200 robberies a day). But nothing bad happened during the matches.

Of course the South African government spent million dollars to provide security and sent additional police forces to the stadia.

In short, South Africa worked hard to be a successful host of the World Cup. But the real question is this:

How will they maintain success from now on?

For South Africa, as we all know, is struggling with serious problems.

On the other side of the coin the unemployment rate is around 40 percent. Poverty is also at issue.

Forty-three percent of the population earns less than $2 a day.

Besides, poverty affects blacks more than Anglo-Africans.

[HH] Unemployment, poverty, AIDS and bribery

Due to positive discrimination toward blacks since the end of apartheid, the number of middle-class Anglo-Africans who lost their jobs is remarkably high.

Our tour guide in Durban showed us an Anglo-African beggar among cars.

It was impossible to see this picture before apartheid.

In fact almost all family members of our guide had to move from Durban to Johannesburg for better employment opportunities.

As for the big problems of South Africa, the country has the highest crime rate as well as AIDS.

A country spending $4.5 billion for the World Cup first of all should earmark some money to “health, education and employment.” Should it not?

The government quickly wrapping up constructions of stadia is so slow to find solution to AIDS, why?

Another problem is bribery.

The ANC which came to power after 1994 has launched infrastructure works especially in rural areas. But bribery cases have started off.

Corruption scandals involving local municipalities in particular are like a disease slowly eating up the country.

South Africa should exert efforts, at least equal to the efforts for the World Cup, to solve its problems.

The country, otherwise, might lose the glow, so to speak, they have gained through the World Cup.

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