Two presidents and a lady prepare us for 2010

Two days ago the man whose leadership made the hosting of the World Cup possible celebrated his birthday.

Two days ago the man whose leadership made the hosting of the World Cup possible celebrated his birthday.

And the man whose ideals made it possible was in town to see and support South Africa's efforts to make 2010 an excellent and unforgettable experience.

More than 10 years ago the former, then deputy president of the country, eloquently expressed his pride in his heritage, and then went on to declare Africa's renewal and underpinned that with the strategies of the New Economic Partnership for Africa's Development.

It is for that reason that President Thabo Mbeki and the government have made such a financial and leadership commitment to make the World Cup "African and the best ever".

The latter, Fifa president Sepp Blatter, staked his career on the suggestion that Africa, and indeed South Africa, should be given the opportunity to showcase its abilities and even coaxed his colleagues at Fifa.

He is probably serving his last term as president of Fifa and his detractors would like to see him fail and thus the pressure he is under to confirm that we will host a successful tournament.

At the Local Organising Committee we were happy to host him on Monday and he was pleased to meet and greet workers on the construction site of Soccer City.

Yesterday he paid a visit to Mbeki in Cape Town, to probably wish him well, but also to reaffirm each other's commitment to this project.

I want to repeat what I have said before - the World Cup in South Africa is about much more than a month-long football fiesta. It is about the "human possibility" for the world to transform beyond prejudice and disrespect to respect and development.

For us in South Africa, our key question should always remain: Why should we subject ourselves to such scrutiny?

The answer for me is this: "Because we have to challenge ourselves in order to grow and renew ourselves. And, of course, because we can!"

Thus, the important legacy aspect that Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was attending to when she launched the Business Opportunities Conference in Ekurhuleni yesterday.

This is an initiative by government and the LOC aimed at providing entrepreneurs with information about the opportunities that are being created by both the activities of 2010 and the growing economy.

The deputy president is very active in making sure that whatever economic benefits may accrue as a result of 2010 reach as many people as possible. And on that score we agree completely.

While still in town Blatter also confirmed that Fifa has sanctioned a special international friendly match to celebrate Madiba's birthday in July.

Former Robben Island inmate Tokyo Sexwale is behind that one. Tonight, another prominent businessman, Patrice Motsepe, will be celebrating a coup when his club Mamelodi Sundowns play Barcelona.

Later next month, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs will host Tottenham Hotspur.

As we enjoy these exciting matches, let us remember that all these events are geared towards preparing us for the World Cup in 2010.

l Tim Modise is the 2010 World Cup SA Local Organising Committee's head of communications. - For your suggestions on 2010