Joint Sitting Debate
on the Successful Hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup
Remarks by Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party

   

 

National Assembly : 18 August 2010

 

Like every South African, I am proud of what my country has achieved in hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The significance of this international event held on South African soil transcends the beautiful game; it is about more than soccer, vuvuzelas and team spirit. It spoke of South Africa's firm footing in the international arena as a noteworthy player. We did our country proud and promoted our continent. Our nation is still cheering.

 

It was here, on South African soil, that Bafana Bafana delivered a 2-1 victory over the ninth ranked team in the world. It was here that Bongani Khumalo, Siphiwe Tshabalala and Katlego Mphela brought a nation to its feet.

It was here that Ghana's Black Stars qualified from the group stage to the quarter-finals and carried with them the pride of a continent. It was here that the world came, watched, cheered and wept. And it was here that a new platform for national unity was forged.

 

Never before in South Africa's history have our people been so unified. In my almost 82 years I have never seen South Africans from all walks of life doing the same thing, at the same time, for the same reason; until I witnessed the Soccer World Cup. Standing in Soccer City, which has been called "the melting pot of African cultures", I was struck by the diversity of the spectators. Aside from our international guests, here we had blacks, whites, Indians, coloureds, English speakers, Afrikaners, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho, men and women, young and old, gathered in one place; voluntarily.

 

We do not see that kind of diversity in the crowds that gather to celebrate our national days. I have remarked before in this House that our national events still fail to attract a representative group. We still see Freedom Day celebrations attended mostly by blacks; so too with Human Rights' Day, Workers' Day and Youth Day. It was sad, after witnessing the diverse group that turned out for the World Cup, to see Women's Day celebrations again supported primarily by blacks.

 

I had hoped to see the national unity we built during June and July spill over into a new dynamic when it comes to celebrating together as a nation.

If soccer could unite us, why should Heritage Day still see us divided? I still hope to see South Africans coming together on the 24th of September as we did on the 11th of June. It is time we delved a little deeper to find what binds us as a nation. May the World Cup be the catalyst of that process.

 

Many of us in this House have expressed the hope that we might harness the goodwill that the World Cup created and somehow extend its benefits. There is a tangible fear that the World Cup fever will collapse and turn sour; and we may very well hear today how much money was spent and how it could have been spent elsewhere. It is true that the millions we raised to build state of the art stadia were necessarily channelled away from building hospitals, schools and houses. But if we choose to step under that shadow of regret, we must be ready to relinquish the goodwill and sense of unity we have managed to create.

 

I think that would be a pity.

 

Already our successful hosting of the World Cup leaves us with a tremendous challenge. We have proven to our people what we are capable of and we have raised their expectations for the future. We managed to pull together enormous resources in a short space of time. We managed to upgrade infrastructure that has long been in need of attention. We relocated Durban International Airport. We got the Gautrain running. We raised a R3,3 billion stadium in Soweto. And we hosted a million visitors with grace and aplomb.

 

If we are able to do all this, our people are certainly going to ask why we are not able to address the daily challenges they face. Why can we not fix a pothole in Atteridgeville? Why does it take months to deliver basic services to the poorest of our communities? These questions are bound to be on the lips of our people in the wake of our greatest success. For better or worse, we have raised the bar, and now we must rise to meet it.