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Open letter to South Africa’s students‚ universities and government‚ represented by Minister in the .

We have to rise to challenges we set ourselves

By unknown | Mar 19, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

The power of global sporting events to draw attention to a country is immeasurable and most of the time it can be for the good of a country.

The power of global sporting events to draw attention to a country is immeasurable and most of the time it can be for the good of a country.

It does also happen, however, that it can draw negative publicity for a country, such is the case with China and its crackdown on protesters in Tibet. China, as we all know, will be hosting the Olympics in a few months.

Steven Spielberg, renowned movie producer, was initially contracted to stage the opening ceremony of the games, but pulled out recently because of China's relationship with Sudan and its implication in the Darfur humanitarian situation. This became international news and it was embarrassing for China.

This past week Tibetans took to the streets, rioted, to protest the occupation of their country. The subsequent crackdown has led many athletes to question their participation in the Olympics and may eventually withdraw.

The occupation of Tibet occurred almost five decades ago, but it has once again gained prominence and has been placed on the agenda, thanks to China hosting the Olympics.

The lesson here is that the social, political and economic performance and conduct of countries hosting major events gets closely monitored than others. And so it should be.

We should not be surprised nor feel bad when we get scrutinised for any shortcomings because we have to rise to the challenges we have set for ourselves as people.

It is correct that the government should, on behalf of the people of South Africa, make the world aware about the progress the country is making in the delivery of its guarantees to Fifa.

It is pleasing to know that we are making progress, and that this progress will benefit us beyond 2010. Given that this is true, it is useful that the media tells the story fairly, accurately and in a balanced manner.

In other words, the same way that the media should raise concerns about all types of problems and challenges, so should it be vigorous in telling the story about our developments.

It is, however, unfortunate that as we draw closer to the World Cup, which is 26 months away and the Confederations Cup 16 months away, some "unnamed experts and faceless sources" are now emerging in the news media as opinion leaders on how we should prepare for the World Cup.

I have personally been subjected to slanderous remarks in some of the news media about my performance in the Local Organising Committee by these unnamed sources who seem to be assisted by "reputational askaris" masquerading as journalists.

I have all the respect for the craft of journalism, and as a practitioner myself, have a deep understanding of the support the media requires in the discharge of its role, which is to inform the public objectively. To pursue malicious personal agendas that are not informed by the objective truth undermines the status that this profession occupies in our society.

My colleagues and I are aware of the pressure that the LOC and other role players are going to be put under going forward, and would like to enlist the support of our colleagues in the media in helping objectively to inform our nation and the world.

We are encouraged by those who keep us on our toes by raising pertinent issues about the project and thus help us better perform for the benefit of our nation.

As I have repeatedly said, the 2010 World Cup belongs to the people of this country and depends on all of us to work together to deliver on our promise.


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