In a live sequel to Invictus South Africa’s dreams and aspirations were to be featured as it hosts the greatest sporting event in the non-American world, the World Cup. It’s not going well.
The South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) has been striking since July, and the protests are growing and the violence is escalating.
Rubber bullets were used Wednesday following massive national street marches, Monday. In many parts of the country basic services like sweeping, garbage collection and public bus services have stopped. All is reminiscent of last year’s massive violent strikes that clogged city streets with burning trash and tires.
The decision to award the World Cup to South Africa was a long and tortured one, with opponents of the world body running the event claiming the country wouldn’t be able to refurbish or build new stadiums in time, and wouldn’t be able to provide good enough security.
That’s been compounded by poorer ticket sales than expected, poorer media contracts, and criticisms from virtually every sector of the paranoid western world that there aren’t enough hospitals or grocery stores!
London’s notorious Daily Star has even claimed that a devastating earthquake will occur during the games!
Building has been slow but now seems like it will be completed in time. Thousands of additional police and undercover security personnel have been trained by a government with a serious budget shortfall.
But no one expected the new stadium workers or trained police might just not show up for work.
“Workers want to see matters resolved speedily,” Samwu Secretary General Mthandeki Nhlapo said yesterday of the open-ended strike. “But there will be no compromise from our side.”
It’s not really a South African problem, as I see it. Imagine if the venue chosen had been Athens instead of Joburg. The problem is the world economic crisis.
Imagine if Obama had allocated a few extra billions to host the event in New Orleans.
To hire the thousands more police and build the great new stadiums, while trying to accomplish its many promises in the post-apartheid world in a depressed economy, South Africa is in the same pinch every country in the world finds itself.
The protests represent a very open, democratic society. Are we going to subscribe to every athletic event being hosted by Beijing?
Don’t change your plans to go to the World Cup. I’ll be very surprised if things don’t settle down weeks before the June 1 exhibition match in Johannesburg between Denmark and Australia.