Saturday, March 13, 2010

South Africa may rue the day they decided to have a Soccer World Cup - for now the eyes of the world turn fully upon us

SHOOT: And what a sight this country is...

The Nelspruit area, with a population of 600,000, has been home to a long-running feud between rival members of South Africa’s governing party, the African National Congress. The antagonists want a bigger share of patronage and other spoils. Killings seem to have been used as a tactic.

In the past month, three supposed hit lists landed in South African newspapers. One includes people to be shot, another those to be poisoned. The Sunday Times recently quoted a repentant Mozambican assassin who asserted that he was hired by top-level politicians and businessmen to kill their adversaries, describing his profession as the work of a “cleaner.”

Mayor Chiwayo appears on each list, and while he said he was unsure if any of the threats were genuine, he noted that several designees had died suspiciously.
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The 2010 World Cup is meant to display South Africa at its very best: a modern, prosperous nation friendly to commerce, tourists and democratic ideals. This is the first time the event will be held in Africa, and it was buoyantly suggested by the former president, Thabo Mbeki, that the competition was a milestone for the entire continent, “sending ripples of confidence from the Cape to Cairo.”

Such boasts may well turn out to be true, for South Africa has spent more than $6 billion on stadiums, roads, airports and other projects. But Nelspruit, in preparing for its own six hours of championship soccer, is instead an example of the nation at its worst, with distressing inequality — measured by some economists as the worst in the world — and an epidemic of local corruption that often leads the downtrodden to rise up in anger.

“Those who’ll benefit from this are the wealthy that already have plenty in their hand,” he said, not in resentment so much as weariness.
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