Mbalula implored to back SA
Sport minister Fikile Mbalula’s unwillingness to endorse SA Rugby’s bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup can be interpreted as a lack of faith in the country’s ability to host the event. According to Prof Melville Saayman, director of the research unit TREES (Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society) at the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University (NWU), hosting an event like this is one most countries will jump at.
Instead it is one the South African government scoff at.
“His (Mbalula’s) actions are not to the benefit of the country. A political agenda must never be put ahead of the wellbeing of those who politicians serve. Is this not the case at the moment? We need government’s support to host the event and we, as a country, are good at hosting event. Look at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the 1996 African Cup of Nations, the 2003 Cricket World Cup and the 2010 Soccer World Cup. There are only a select few countries capable of hosting a World Cup. We have the necessary infrastructure and experience. We have the fan-base. We are a favourable tourist destination regarding our natural resources and our exchange rate makes for a rewarding experience to foreigners,” Saayman explains.
He also says that Mbalula’s citing of national transformation figures as grounds not to support the bid is counterproductive to transformation.
“Transformation should not be about numbers. Numbers paint a skewed picture. Transformation should be about development and nothing develops a sport more in a country than that country hosting a prestigious event like the World Cup. We need to get kids excited about the game. We need revenue from such an event to build infrastructure in less advantaged communities to grow the game.”
Saayman also warns that South Africans must not be denied the opportunity to grow in both fiscal and social terms: We have a struggling economy characterized by a fluctuating rand. We have a fair amount of political instability. We have wide spread droughts. As a country we have the flu, why deny us a cure? During the recently held municipal elections we as a nation showed that we support the country and the democratic process in a responsible way. On numerous occasion we as a nation has shown that we have the capacity to celebrate together and to grief together. It binds us as a society and growths us as the family we are told we can be. Why deny us that opportunity?”
Saayman concludes be iterating that hosting the World Cup is not about the sport itself: “Remember: hosting an international event is like throwing a rock into a pond. There are ripple effects that serve to benefit the wider community. It is about more than just sport. It is far more important than just a game or a few games. Mr Mbalula, implore you: pleas support this bid. Our country needs it.”