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Contrary to repeated insinuations by the DA and allied spin doctors, the ANC has not played dog-in-the-manger about the 2010 Green Point stadium project.  It's high time to set the record straight.

Let's begin by agreeing to try to keep the debate reasonably open and honest. In this spirit, we won't glide over the fact that when South Africa was announced as the host country for the 2010 World Cup and discussion of the location of the stadium started in earnest, the ANC did express serious reservations about the proposed Green Point location for the new stadium.

This was because we felt that the stadium should be located near to where the bulk of Cape Town's football-loving people live, in a belt stretching from Athlone to Mitchell's Plain, Crossroads and Gugulethu to Khayelitsha.  But this position was about much more than where the hardcore football fans live. It was derived from our party's basic commitment to social redress, community development and upliftment.

Nothing is more blindingly obvious about Cape Town than the skewed pattern of the city's spatial development and investment profile, and the ANC saw an opportunity to use the location of the new stadium - and the broader infrastructural development that would inevitably accompany the construction phase - as a step towards loosening the stranglehold of spatial distortion and opening up access to job opportunities, facilities and services.

This was our Route 1, and we make no apology for it.

However, football World Cups are international events with externally driven demands that constrain the freedom of local government planning within the host nation.

So, once it emerged that the 2010 Local Organising Committee (LOC) had insisted upon Green Point in order to meet Fifa requirements, the Western Cape ANC in effect said, "Right, let's live with this; but let's put all our efforts into ensuring that the developmental package to be put together around the Green Point nucleus delivers real, tangible, long-term benefits for our most deprived and disadvantaged communities."  We think of this as Route 2.

The key point is to grasp and use the prestige and massive marketing opportunities presented by SA's hosting the first World Cup for Africa.  Obviously, the potential tourism bonanza needs to be harnessed to the maximum, its meaning deepened and its durability assured.

On the hard economics side: construction of the stadium and public sector investment in transport infrastructure, tourism, sport and cultural facilities will provide a huge injection of funds into the provincial economy and stimulate private sector investment.  A recent cost-benefit analysis suggests that R6.5 billion in public and private sector investment - over and above the core stadium investment - is already in the pipeline for the province.  This will add 4% to provincial GDP and will result in a world-class multi-purpose 68,000-seat stadium, with a precinct and Urban Park linking the CBD, the V&A Waterfront and the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

While this will add immeasurably to the city's attractions and give a huge boost to tourism marketing and management, it is absolutely essential that the final investment package must at the same time serve the city's social development needs.  It must galvanise efforts to upgrade and disperse vital social infrastructure, transform community safety and - for the first time in our city's history - create a public transport network that is reliable, efficient, affordable and economically and socially rational.

Who pays for all this?  Some have tried, mischievously, to suggest that the City of Cape Town is about to take on a crippling long-term financial burden.  But let's allow the facts to intrude for a moment.

The bulk of the funds required for the stadium - R1.9bn - is being provided by national government.  A further R212 million has been earmarked for provision by provincial government.  This has left the city with the responsibility to find R500m - or approximately 24% of the initial funding requirement - in order to kick-start a developmental process that, if properly managed, could play a major role in bringing urgently needed equitable development and social cohesion to Cape Town.

The first building blocks of this process are already in place. Apart from the financial contribution to the stadium, national and provincial government have announced massive investment in road and rail infrastructure, including the extension of the Khayelitsha line.  Three main rail corridors will be upgraded, including railway stations on these lines. Investment and upgrading of rolling stock will include the erection of a permanent assembly and renovation plant in Touws River, which will create much-needed jobs and development in the rural town.  A new rapid transport bus system will complement the rail developments, bringing Cape Town that much closer to the goal of a fully integrated, inter-modal transport network that serves all of its people.

National and provincial government will also ensure that a further R2bn is invested in sports development.  This will take the form of the completion of the renovated Ath-lone Stadium, the upgrading of sports venues in coloured and African areas, the creation of "fan parks" located in these areas and the construction of a world-class practice venue in Philippi.

Investor jitters created by the City of Cape Town's prevarication have now, hopefully, been dispelled - precisely, it must be said, because of the crucial interventions of national and provincial government.  These guarantees should mean that the large-scale private sector investment required for new hotels and the expansion of Cape Town International Airport comes on stream smoothly and in good time.

The 2006 World Cup in Germany created a platform for NGOs, churches, unions and civic organisations to run a campaign based on the Fifa slogan of "Fair Play, Fair Life".  They extended this to a campaign on "fair trade" against the importation of sports goods from exploitative sweat-shop companies, including those that use child labour.  Clearly there is room for similar initiatives in our city, plagued as it is by gangs, crime, substance abuse and so forth.

The ANC has taken a lead in encouraging municipalities to prepare to each host one of the 12 Western Cape-based teams as they prepare for the tournament.  Evidence from other World Cups suggest that teams prefer to prepare far away from where they will play and there is no reason why our beautiful rural towns should not bid to host teams that will play in other provinces.

The sod for the Green Point stadium has been turned and construction has commenced.  Planning all the other ancillary work is under way.  The province is poised to reap a rich dividend from Cape Town's host city status. But it must be said that getting this far has been difficult.  The ANC-led national and provincial governments have dragged the DA-led city council, kicking, screaming and grandstanding to the party.

The DA made the location of the stadium an election issue and revved up the Sea Point residents against the idea.  This not only created the emotive context for the objections to the site but also an unhealthy climate where unreasonable de-mands by exclusive clubs at the common have had to be met.  For example, 25-year leases to existing lease holders at R180 a year have apparently been granted by the city.  It would appear that - if things are allowed to stand - the future of the common will not be for the public good but will leave us with a low-rental, high-maintenance cost approach for the benefit of the few.

The DA has trumpeted the idea of a transparent decision-making process in the city council; but the recent agreement with Investec is anything but that.  Copies of the agreement, which ANC councillors had re-quested sight of, were circulated and withdrawn in council.  We can nevertheless confirm that the agreement is a 30-year renewable lease on terms highly favourable to Investec, giving that company exclusive naming, advertising, merchandising, sponsorship, "and the like" rights in respect of the stadium, and the unfettered right to carry out business and commercial activity in the stadium and precinct.

It is highly debatable that this agreement was necessary in the first place given that the city's capital reserve revenue (CRR) fund could have been used for this purpose.

The grandstanding around the costs of the stadium nearly cost the city its hosting right and might have done so had it not been for the tolerance displayed by the LOC and the national government.  The R3.76bn projected cost of stadium construction, in the initial scoping process driven by the city, had to be forced down by pressure from the government.  Even then the figure is way higher than, for example, the R1.8bn cost of the Durban stadium.

Never mind. Point number one now is that we do at last have agreement on a smaller, environmentally compliant stadium that is doable and affordable.

Point number two - which really needs to be stressed - is that it was the ANC in government that pushed the city to build the stadium, reduce the costs, begin to discuss the diffusion of potential economic and social benefits and ensure that objections were properly dealt with in the provincial government.

It must also be said that the ANC has initiated and piloted environmental legislation at all levels of government.  Therefore, it will ensure that the right of citizens to object on environmental grounds is protected.  But we should also guard against the danger that environmental concerns are used to protect elite and vested interests.  This is a delicate balance, which requires careful management within the provisions of the law.

Notwithstanding the platform for progress that has been achieved, there remain pitfalls going forward. All Capetonians who genuinely want to see an inclusive (and, therefore, socially sustainable) future for our city and region have a responsibility to remain alert to and head these off wherever possible. There can be no backing away from the determination to ensure that the developmental benefits of the World Cup reach our disadvantaged communities, and gain real traction there. The transport, community safety and social infrastructure elements of the investment and planning process must on no account be allowed to slip off the agenda.

Growth in the tourism sector, and the regional economy as a whole, must not end up benefiting only a few established providers.  On the contrary, broad-based empowerment initiatives must be creatively developed and fast-tracked.  Affirmative procurement must be strengthened to spread economic benefits. Wide-ranging support measures for small business in the plans of the province and the city must be rapidly taken beyond the blueprint stage.

The core message for 2010 is "Africa's time has come" and "South Africa is ready". Cape Town - as the oldest, most diverse and complex city in South Africa - must find its own image of African-ness, and, in so doing, start to lose its "edginess" about participating fully in the process of South African and African renewal.  We all have to make this happen. When we do, and when we celebrate our contribution to hosting a successful 2010 World Cup - then we can all blow our vuvuzelas and say the Western Cape was truly part of the process!
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