South Africa: `World Cup for all! People before profit!'

By Kamcilla Pillay

June 17, 2010, Durban -- Daily News -- The sound of vuvuzelas cut through the air in Durban on June 16 -- but for one large group there was little to celebrate. Amid cries of phansi ngama-fat cats, phansi (down with fat cats, down) and a sea of banners proclaiming the government cared only for the rich, civil rights organisations took to the streets protesting against poor service delivery and the World Cup.[Photos below.]

Abahlali Base Mjondolo, KwaZulu-Natal Subsistence Fisher's Forum, Clairwood Social Forum and about 17 other organisations gathered for what they dubbed an "anti-Thiefa" protest march which started at Dinizulu Park and ended at City Hall yesterday.

"The R40 billion the government has spent on the World Cup could have comfortably housed three million homeless South Africans", said Alice Thomson of the Durban Social Forum. "Soccer will not make a better life for all -- it will only make the rich richer and the poor poorer," Thomson said.

This week, Thomson was arrested for distributing anti-FIFA pamphlets at the Fifa Fan Fest in Durban.

Bongani Mthembu, of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, said that the decision to hold the protest on Youth Day was deliberate. "Youth Day is an opportunity for us as the youth to air our grievances and raise our concerns. We can show the foreigners here the truth about what's happening behind the World Cup", he said.

Chairman of KZN Subsistence Fisher's Forum Essop Mohamed said: "Some people were 'tired of falling by the wayside'. We are marching against oppression."

They let FIFA come here and do what they want, but they won't let us fish", he said, referring to a city ruling to bar fishing in certain areas along the beachfront.

Said Shamitha Naidoo, community chairwoman in Pinetown of Abahlali Base Mjondolo: "We need to show them (tourists) what's happening. How will these poor people benefit from the World Cup?"

Protester Kirubavathi Pillay, 68, was also angry at what she said was the inability of the eThekwini Municipality to deliver adequate services. "No one worries about us. We can't manage without some help from the government," Pillay said. "They are not fighting for us. We must fight for us", added Jaysh Ramphul, another marcher.


Photos by Durban Social Forum. Made with Slideshow Embed Tool.

MEMORANDUM OF GRIEVANCES

DATE: June 16, 2010

TO: KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize, Durban Mayor Obed Mlaba, Deputy Mayor Logie Naidoo and Durban City Manager Michael Sutcliffe

RE: Grievances about World Cup 2010 management

We are the citizenry of Durban. Our organisations have long registered grievances about the way the city is being run. In recent months, we have found that many of our problems are worsening, especially because of the way the World Cup has been implemented by FIFA, its corporate partners, politicians and bureaucrats.

While in principle we do not oppose Durban hosting seven World Cup games, we are very opposed to many decisions made by FIFA and city, provincial and national officials. The problems we record below require urgent attention and immediate remedial action.

Economic burden

• Whereas Durban’s 70 000-seater Moses Mabhida Stadium cost taxpayers R3.1 billion; the cost escalation for Mabhida rose from an initial R1.8 billion; and redirecting most of this spending could have erased the majority of the vast backlogs Durban faces, of housing, water/sanitation, electricity, clinics, schools and roads;

• Mabhida’s next-door neighbour is Absa Stadium, home of Sharks rugby, which seats 52 000 and which could easily have been extended

(considering that Durban municipality will knock out 15 000 seats from Mabhida after July);

• the companies and individuals that have profited most from Mabhida’s construction include multinational corporations and those responsible for notorious municipal disasters, such as bus privatiser Remant Alton and Point development failure Dolphin Whispers, along with at least one fake Black Economic Empowerment front company;

• the import bill for Mabhida appears unreasonable, as reflected in breakdowns of Mabhida’s Sky Car due to imported German cables held up for repair by the Icelandic volcano, and in imported German tents erected next to Mabhida by an imported German marquee construction crew;

• the soaring foreign and domestic debt we are now suffering because of World Cup expenses will cause untold problems for the SA economy in years to come; FIFA is not subject to South African taxes; FIFA is also allowed to ignore SA exchange control regulations; and the FIFA profit estimate is more than R25 billion;

Corruption and state failure

•    whereas this kind of extreme waste and crony capitalism typifies the relationship of FIFA to host governments; bribery and corruption have been associated with FIFA’s operations (as documented in lawsuits in Zug and New York); bribes have been predicted (by England’s former World Cup bid manager) that would distort play by some of the leading teams coming to South Africa; and corruption whistle-blowing in Mpumalanga Province led to several suspicious deaths, reportedly by organised hit squads;

•    Durban’s own recent corruption in the construction of low-cost housing by Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport became a national scandal; Durban housing official Nigel Gumede and City Manager Mike Sutcliffe rejected the findings of the National Home Builders’ Registration Council report which shows extensive wrongdoing – one third of houses in Umlazi requiring reconstruction - in a R300 million contract begun in December 2006; politically-connected Zikhulise owners Shauwn and S’bu Mpisane have a notoriously luxurious lifestyle with a car fleet worth a reported R100 million;

•    Durban’s Council and ward committee system has become a form of top-down political control; Council does not take our voices upwards; the democratic gains that were won in 1994 are also our victories, but have been taken from us;

•    the September 2009 attack on the Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) movement, its leaders and well known members, their family members and its offices in the Kennedy Road settlement apparently received the backing of the local ruling party and government structures; many AbM members cannot go back to Kennedy Road; and several of the Kennedy Road 13 are being imprisoned interminably without bail or being charged;

•    the Durban council has made clear its intent to demolish the Early Morning Market at Warwick Junction in favour of a shopping mall; the Early Morning Market is one of the surviving monuments of the indentured Indian labourers; and hundreds of jobs – as well as affordable edibles – for poor people are at stake;

•    Durban fisherfolk have witnessed rich people fishing off expensive boats and yachts unhindered while working-class subsistence fishermen suffer police harassment and arrests; fishermen have recently been denied access to New Pier, the South Pier, the Bluff military base and the quayside shore (Gunter Gulley, Yacht Mole, Lucky Dip); and there is worsening sea-water pollution – rubbish, oil and chemicals in the harbour – and apparently no environmental precautions being taken;

•    Durban’s hundreds of thousands of immigrants are under sustained attack; the May 2008 xenophobic attacks demonstrated a failed municipal state which by August washed its hands of ongoing xenophobia crisis and by November used police brutality to displace desperate refugees; Lesotho migrant workers are protesting the revocation of the ‘six month’ system of border concessions; there remain inadequate support systems and preventative measures against another xenophobia attack; and immigrants continue to face oppression in their dealings with the South African government and police;

Workers, the poor and communities under attack

•    whereas this country is rich because of the theft of our land and because of our work in the farms, mines, factories, kitchens and laundries of the rich; and that wealth is therefore also our wealth;

•    the working class and poor of Durban are under severe pressure because of the world and SA economic crises, which have not yet lifted for us, costing the country more than a million lost jobs and leaving Durban badly exposed in sectors like shipping, clothing and textiles; poor and working people are being pushed out of any meaningful access to citizenship; recent government statistics prove the urban poor are becoming poorer; and we are being forced off land and out of our cities;

•    too many of us who have formal water and electricity connections have not been able to afford the fast-rising costs of these services and face disconnection; the promise of housing has been downgraded to forced removal to a transit camp more like prisons than homes; housing that has been built exists in human dumping grounds far outside of the cities and far from work, schools, clinics and libraries; and there is a new, heavy-handed, privatised municipal debt collection strategy that is wrecking state-community relationships;

•    poor flat dwellers have suffered from unaffordable and exploitative rents; and the poor have been forced to sign exploitative rental agreements under duress and threat of eviction;

•    farm dwellers have suffered the impoundment of cattle, demolition of homes, denial of the right to bury loved ones, denial of basic service and brutality (and sometimes murder) at the hands of some farmers; and a biased justice system which has systematically undermined farm dwellers;

•    outsourcing of casualised labour has become a full-fledged crisis, as witnessed in the revolt by Stallion Security workers who were exploited at Moses Mabhida and four other stadiums to the extent of protesting in the face of police stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets; crises caused by Durban’s labour brokers include the ports – partly responsible for a recent three-week strike by transport workers – and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where underpaid workers (less than R1000 take-home pay for UKZN cleaners) are suffering;

World Cup’s pro-rich bias

•    whereas while the rich have benefited from the World Cup, the poor have not; the Zakumi doll mascot and other memorabilia were made in China not South Africa; Durban’s informal street traders have been displaced and barred from selling in the vicinity of stadiums; and Durban fisherfolk have been evicted from the city’s main North Beach and South Beach piers;

•    township soccer facilities were meant to be created and maintained with state subsidies but have not been; and street kids were brutally displaced from central Durban in advance of the World Cup; according to former chief executive  of the South African Premier Soccer League Trevor Phillips; “Durban has two football teams which attract crowds of only a few thousand. It would have been more sensible to have built smaller stadiums nearer the football-loving heartlands and used the surplus funds to have constructed training facilities in the townships”;

•    FIFA’s tourist initiatives are based on what it calls ‘luxurious ambiance’ not working-class hospitality; promises of 450 000 international visitors for the World Cup were high overestimates; and many jobs in the tourism sector were shed when the overestimates became apparent;

Public transport

•    whereas many in Durban continue to be dependent upon private automobiles (with resulting adverse impacts on climate change); there has been a sharp decline in Durban’s public transport compared to other South African cities which have begun investing in the Bus Rapid Transit system; a government web-site (www.sa2010.gov.za) promised benefits for the host cities of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Soccer including “a fast, comfortable and low cost urban transport system … for central business districts but also in townships”;

•    Durban officials have implemented air-conditioned “People Mover” buses with security guards at every stop, running every 15 minutes from 06h00 until 23h00, but only in the city centre and along the beachfront, mostly for the benefit of tourists; there is still terribly inadequate public transport in both the townships and suburbs, and many areas are currently unserviced, and others have with an infrequent and unreliable service with no bus timetables available;

Environment

•    whereas the ‘greenwashing’ of the World Cup includes incorrect claims by Durban officials that the CO2 permanently emitted in the vast cement construction plus increased air travel can be ‘offset’ by planting trees (which themselves are only a temporary, fragile container of CO2 because they emit the same carbon when they die and biodegrade); officials brag about ‘carbon credits’ from burning methane from rubbish dumps in a World Bank Clean Development Mechanism project (even though such ‘emissions trading’ is a dangerous distraction from fighting climate change), and the poorest people of Durban will suffer the most from climate change;

•    there is no sense in constructing new coal-fired plants (such as Medupi) and nuclear generators so as to give further electricity subsidies to vast multinational corporations such as BHP Billiton (which receives the world’s cheapest power); 100% renewable energy is a pre-requisite to avert global climate disruptions; the refusal to phase out coal, oil and gas also causes military conflicts, magnifying social and environmental injustice; and governments; corporations such as BP continue to support and finance fossil fuel exploration, extraction and activities that worsen global warming such as forest degradation and destruction on a massive scale, while dedicating only token sums to renewable energy, and leaving areas like South Durban with some of the world’s worst air pollution due to oil refining;

•    global climate disruptions – extreme weather events, droughts, floods, increased disease, scarce water - are already disproportionately felt by small island states, coastal peoples, indigenous peoples, local communities, fisherfolk, women, youth, poor people, elderly and marginalised communities;

Our rights of expression

•    whereas according to the bid proposal and subsequent contracts with the South African government, FIFA was given full indemnity “against all proceedings, claims and related costs (including professional adviser fees) which may be incurred or suffered by or threatened by others;” and in addition, “Police officers and other peace officials will be provided to enforce the protection of the marketing rights, broadcast rights, marks and other intellectual property rights of FIFA an its commercial partners” – as witnessed in the ridiculous arrest of Dutch women whose only crime was to wear an orange dress to Soccer City for the Holland-Denmark game;

•    our own leading journalists are stifled from reporting on FIFA’s wrongdoing because of a required pledge not to throw the organisation into ‘disrepute’ as a prerequisite for accreditation, as witnessed by the refusal of the national broadcaster to show the documentary film Fahrenheit 2010 made partly in Durban;

•    the murder of three young men in Phoenix earlier this month is yet more evidence of local police brutality, as was the excessive force – stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets - used to subdue non-violent Stallion Security workers protesting at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Monday, June 14;

We therefore demand

• adequate compensation to Durban ratepayers and national taxpayers for the windfall profits made by construction of unnecessary stadiums such as Moses Mabhida, investigations into extreme cost escalations, and a renewed commitment for a fiscal boost to remove South Africa’s vast backlogs of housing, water/sanitation, electricity, clinics, schools and roads;

• immediate imposition of taxation and exchange controls on multinational and local corporations associated with the World Cup, on grounds that contracts entered into with FIFA are legally Odious;

•    investigations into bribery and corruption associated with FIFA contracts and World Cup construction in Durban and especially in Mpumalanga Province, and full criminal investigations into Durban’s own recent corruption scandals;

•    a thorough overhaul of Durban’s Council and ward committee system so as to introduce genuine democracy and popular participation;

•    a commission of inquiry into events associated with the jailing of the Abahlali baseMjondolo Kennedy Road 13, their unconditional release, and the right-of-return of AbM to Kennedy Road;

•    the end of municipal harassment of traders, especially in the Early Morning Market at Warwick Junction, and subsidies that would permit it to become an historic monument, having just marked the market’s centenary;

•    the end of municipal harassment of Durban fisherfolk, the imposition of more reasonable fishing license fees, and a recommitment to cleaning the harbour and beaches of pollution of all sorts;

•    a renewed commitment to combating the scourge of xenophobia;

•    a redistribution of the society’s income and wealth so that South Africa is no longer the world’s most unequal major economy, an end to the municipal debt collection strategy and other systems that worsen inequality, and increases in free basic water and electricity allotments financed through a luxury consumption tax on those who use too much;

•    an end to exploitative rental and housing arrangements, to oppression of rural people and to injustice against farm dwellers;

•    a ban on labour broking, as has long been promised by the ruling party;

•    a dramatic increase in township soccer and sports facilities;

•    follow-through on the promise of “a fast, comfortable and low cost urban transport system … for central business districts but also in townships” and an expansion of “People Mover” buses across metro eThekwini;

•    an end to new coal-fired plants and nuclear generators so as to save the environment from certain destruction, stringent monitoring of air and water quality and public access to the findings, strict law enforcement against polluters and littering, a commitment to proper maintenance of all Durban’s green areas in a cohesive, sensitive, responsible and inclusive manner for the benefit of the environment and the people of Durban not just the city elite, dedication to the eradication and control of alien species with a view to permanent job creation, and strict enforcement of city bylaws by Metro Police to prevent urban decay, slum development and the resultant health hazards and environmental degradation;

•    a retraction of indemnity to FIFA and end to the order prohibiting journalists from throwing FIFA into ‘disrepute’ as a prerequisite for accreditation;

•    an end to police brutality, proper policing of all neighbourhoods, and redirection of policing resources spent on FIFA to all citizens;

•    an end to the arrogant, authoritarian, exclusive, insensitive, parochial decision-making processes undertaken by the Ethekwini Municipality throughout all areas of its jurisdiction.

When considering the speed and lavishness with which services were delivered for the 2010 World Cup, we have no doubt the above demands can be met timeously and professionally.

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