By 2009, Afro-pessimists regarding South Africa’s ability to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup would “eat their words”, says the Deputy Minister of Finance.
The Deputy Minister Jabu Moleketi said all those who cast doubt about the country’s abilities to host the soccer spectacular would be proved wrong as all the stadiums are to be ready by October 2009.
“The pessimists will have to eat their words at the end of the day. Come 2009, when everything is ready and we host a successful Confederations Cup, they will have to think of something else to be negative about and they will come up with something.
“But they are not going to take us away from our specific goal of delivering a very successful 2010 FIFA World Cup,” he said.
In the lead-up to the event, Mr Moleketi said the International Marketing Council and different government departments would continue communicating all developments to the world regarding the country’s readiness.
Renovations to four of the stadiums set to host 2010 fixtures would be complete by December 2008.
These stadiums are Vodacom Park in Mangaung, Royal Bafokeng in Rustenburg, Loftus stadium in Pretoria and Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
Those who will be completed by October 2009 are Mbombela in Nelspruit, Peter Mokaba (Polokwane), Nelson Mandela Bay, Green Point (Cape Town) Moses Mabhida (Durban) and the Soccer City in Johannesburg.
The deputy minister noted that all work on the stadiums was on schedule.
Because contractors have increased the pace of construction in the stadiums, Mr Moleketi said they would bring forward R1.9 million in October this year from next year’s budget.
The fast pace of work has put some constraints on the country’s construction industry, due to increased demand for building material.
“We talk about cement, for instance, that we need to increase our capacity to produce this important ingredient input into this major infrastructure programme.
“It’s not just about the 2010 stadia but about an infrastructure programme of more than R400 billion and that capacity needs to be increased,” said Mr Moleketi.
The deputy minister said while the industries sought to increase the capacity, the country has to import cement from other countries.
“Some of the companies are already doing that and this has an impact on issues around trade balances.
“So it is quite correct to assume that within a short-term, we begin to see the pressure particularly in issues of balance of payments,” he explained.
Another phenomenon, he said, was that a number of sectors were also operating below their full capacity.
“Once you are operating at a near full capacity, it means the economy is growing quite at a pace and the sectors are doing a bit of a catch-up, so there is always a lack.
“It is not just a South African phenomenon. There is always a lack between growth and the capacity of sectors to up their manufacturing capacity.”
Mr Moleketi said it was important to note that the construction and revamping of stadia constituted one element of the entire programme of preparing for the world cup.
There are 20 projects, one of which is construction and renovation of stadiums, which would be implemented to ensure that the country hosts a successful event in 2010.
The projects include public health management, safety and security and justice; volunteer programme, environmental rehabilitation, waste management, disaster management, city beautification, tourism, marketing communications and signage as well as protocol and ports of entry matters.
Other initiatives are the provision of efficient public transport and the putting together of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) facilities including the International Broadcast Centre.
Mr Moleketi said the National Treasury was guided by all the 2010 projects in allocating funds to host cities for this event.
“What guided us is around 2010-related projects; to find out from each host city as to what is it that they would need as a contribution from the national fiscals to ensure that there is readiness for 2010?
“It is not just about the stadia, it is also about the supporting infrastructure. What we also did in the initial round was to ensure that the concept of iconic facilities, measuring these facilities in terms of our desires and FIFA’s needs regarding norms and standards,” he said.
In this regard, government is to spend R25 million for the training of volunteers during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, some of whom would be ushering tourists, while R150 million would be channelled to projects pertaining to arts and culture.
At least R666 million would be spent on safety and security while R17 million would be for community mobilisation.