think out of the box

The 2010 Soccer World Cup is the biggest opportunity for South Africa and its surrounding countries to boost their economies.

The 2010 Soccer World Cup is the biggest opportunity for South Africa and its surrounding countries to boost their economies.

This is an opportunity which might not repeat itself in our lifetime. That is why all the stakeholders in this event, have to think out of the box.

Firstly, most South Africans may not be aware of the onslaught which is being perpetrated by the South African rightwing in the United States and Europe, to block the 2010 World Cup from taking place in South Africa.

They are trying hard to convince Fifa, the soccer world governing body, to move the event to either Australia or some country in Europe. They have lobbyists in major cities like Washington DC, New York, London and Sydney.

Their campaign is fierce. They leave no stone unturned. South Africa's electricity problem is a new rallying point to move the games somewhere else. Crime has been used for years to discourage Fifa and investors from doing business with South Africa.

The recent event where three foreigners who visited Shark Observation Company in Western Cape died because their boat overturned, has also been used to tie it to the World Cup. They are clutching at straws to demonise South Africa across the board.

What is missing is the LOC (Local Organising Committee) countering this propaganda. This onslaught will not stop until they do something about it.

Marketing and public relations experts have to be deployed in various world cities, especially New York, Washington and London, to counter this onslaught.

Major newspapers such as the New York Times, Washington Post and the London Times have to be used to disseminate information concerning the progress leading to the World Cup.

Any negative story has to be countered right away. An update of the building of stadiums and other infrastructure has to be sent to different newspapers around the world.

Major networks such as CNN, BBC, ABC, NBC and CBS have to be used to inform the world public about the progress in the preparation of this major event.

As a person who lives in New York, it irks me to see my country being demonised in such a manner and no one is countering it. Major world networks always carry negative stories and there is no one from the LOC who is telling the South Africa side of the story.

Government departments too have to do better than what they are doing presently. This government mustn't look at this event as just another sporting event.

It is a chance for the country to create a lasting economic legacy for generations to come. The tourism department's promotional campaign has to be taken a notch higher. South African tourism has to be promoted even in smaller countries in places such as the Caribbean Islands, Pacific Islands and the Indian Ocean Islands.

Tourism promotion in countries such as the Russian Federation and its former colonies has to be improved. Tourism could be South Africa's biggest employer if the department can improve the way it does its business.

Also, the world has to know how South Africa is addressing its campaign against crime. The rightwingers have managed to promote South Africa as the crime capital of the world.

In violent New York and other American inner cities, tourism is higher than in any country because American television has managed to convince the world that America is a crime-free country. South Africa can do likewise.

The government has to think out of the box in addressing Eskom's electricity problems. While the government is still planning to build more power stations, which will take years to complete, foreign companies have to be invited to set up their electricity companies in the country to alleviate this problem.

Con Edison, America's leading electricity company, can be of immediate assistance. They are the leading electricity company in the world. The majority of South Africans don't have enough disposable income because of the high price of gas.

A country like Venezuela can be able to supply us with cheap quality gas.

It is already supplying cheap gas to the American inner cities where most poor people reside. Lastly, the LOC must start employing people with relevant skills to make the organisation efficient.

l We invite comments on the suggestions raised by Mbele.

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