30 July 2008
Ordinary South Africans will all be ambassadors for the country and the continent when the world descends on South Africa for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, says Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad.
Speaking at the 2010 National Communication Partnership conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Pahad said it was ordinary South Africans who would “be the first point of contact for those travelling to South Africa for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.”
The conference, taking place for the third year, provides a platform for communicators from across the continent to share ideas on how to project a positive image of the continent to the world in 2010.
Pahad said the eyes of the world were already on South Africa, but that the international spotlight would intensify after the 2008 Beijing Olympics concluded in late August.
Journalists and communicators needed to “accentuate the positive” while being open to criticism and dealing with that criticism in a receptive, proactive way, Pahad said.
Communicators needed to highlight that South Africa’s stadiums would be ready, that its banking and IT services were on par with any in the world, and that the country’s physical infrastructure was receiving a complete make-over.
“We need to allay fears [around the country’s] electricity supply, and safety and security, and constraints in accommodation.
Pahad said Africa’s media needed to ask themselves whether they had the independence to question foreign doubts about South Africa’s preparations, and the self-confidence to point out when stories lacked substance or were based on unfounded information.
Moeketsi Mosola, chief executive of South African Tourism and acting CEO of the International Marketing Council, told the conference that what happened in and around Soccer City in Johannesburg, or the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, in June and July of 2010 would influence global perceptions about Botswana, Uganda, Cameroon and Tunisia.
“Hosting such an event means every aspect of South African and African society will come under the microscope of the international media,” Mosola said, and the country and the continent had to “make the most of opportunities which we probably won’t have again for a very long time.
“We must use the opportunity to build African solidarity and encourage growth in a global economy. We must do this so that we can speak for ourselves, and not be spoken for,” Mosola said.