Speaking notes for Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, on the occasion of the World Press Day

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cape Town International Convention Centre

President of FIFA, Mr. Sepp Blatter;
Distinguished Members of the Executive Committee of FIFA;
Members of Cabinet;
Deputy National Commissioner of the South African Police Service;
CEO of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee of South Africa;
Representatives of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Host Cities;
Members of the football community;
Acting CEOs of the International Marketing Council and South African Tourism;
Members of the press;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen:

Welcome, once again, to the Host Country for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
I trust that the success of the Final Draw has provided you with a strong sense of the passion, flair and professionalism with which South Africa is preparing itself for the historic first FIFA World Cup tournament in Africa.

I am greatly privileged to speak to you on this important occasion marking World Press Day.

By being here today, we recognise the important role that you play in creating excitement among people around the world and informing them about the build-up to an event that is important both for South Africa and the Continent of Africa itself.

Your words, pictures, sounds and blogs enable millions of people around the world to understand the opportunities and challenges presented by our hosting this glorious event.

Distinguished guests,

You will be aware that we are expecting between 10,000 and 15,000 media representatives at next year's event and promise to make their stay in South African and our continent a productive and memorable experience.

As media representatives, you will directly benefit from one of the lasting legacies of this World Cup - and that is our extensive investment in information and communication technology.

The Organisers of this event have put in place various systems that will not only facilitate your coverage of this event, but will enhance the country's long-term connectivity. This brings with it enormous benefits to the broader economy and society.

It is our belief that the World Cup will help us as the continent to present our country and Continent to the world as places where stability, growth and development by far outstrip the negative challenges we continue to face.

You will be pleased to know that our country and Continent are rapidly reversing the legacies of centuries and decades of underdevelopment and marginalisation in the international system.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup is but one building block in this positive direction - but it is also a powerful demonstration of our ability and determination to take this region forward.

While the World Cup will leave a lasting legacy in our country and Continent, we should also acknowledge with great humility and appreciation that the World Cup tournament is itself a legacy in its own right.

We therefore pay tribute to the role played by the founding President, Nelson Mandela, for his tireless efforts to reintegrate South Africa into the world community of nations since the advent of democracy in 1994.

Honoured guests,

We are less than two months away from marking 20 years since his release from prison on Sunday, February 11, 1990.

This was a landmark trajectory on South Africa's road to the transformation that has brought us to where we are today.
It is against this backdrop that we are counting down the remaining 187 days to the 2010 tournament.

Many of you may have noticed that, when it comes to assessing our readiness for hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the focus has changed dramatically.
The question is no longer whether or not the stadiums will be ready on time; but how the stadiums showcase our technological and architectural excellence to the world.

We now no longer talk in general terms. We have entered a period in which we talk action, specifics, numbers and deadlines.

This is also a period during which the focus is shifting to the most important actors in the FIFA World Cup, the players, the teams, the fans and administrators of the game.

We look forward to opening our hearts and homes, our pubs and clubs, our airports and harbours, and our sites of cultural and natural heritage to the hundreds of thousands of visitors we are expecting.

You are all assured of a uniquely memorable visit to South Africa.
You will not be the same after visiting us! And we ourselves will not be the same after hosting you!

Together, we will find new ways of understanding and relating to one another.
At the same time, we are aware that expectations are very high.

Many countries have hosted football World Cups before us; and every time people expect higher standards. And so this is our time to showcase Africa to the world.

Accordingly, as Government, we have pledged our unwavering support for the success of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, by working hard to ensure that all 17 guarantees made to FIFA are implemented in accordance with agreed to deadlines.

We are undertaking this work amid difficult economic circumstances globally. In this climate, our preparation for the World Cup provides a beacon of hope and an opportunity for us to demonstrate resilience, determination, adaptability and passion.

We have undertaken to provide, amongst others, the required infrastructure, a supportive financial environment, security, health and medical services, transportation, protocol and ports of entry services and other necessary requirements.

You will experience our spirit of "ubuntu" (humanity) from our people and through the trained volunteers that will provide various support services for FIFA and the Host Cities.

Programme director,

We will also continue to work very closely with FIFA, through the Local Organising Committee, to ensure that we deliver on all our obligations.
When we were bidding for the rights to host the 2010 World Cup, one of the points we emphasised was that this momentous event will leave a lasting legacy for the people of this country.

Allow me to re-emphasise that after this event, South Africa will never again be as it was before - and, hopefully, not just in terms of infrastructure development, but also in terms of the way the world looks at us.

Apart from the 2010 FIFA World Cup being the single greatest celebration of the beautiful game of football, to us it is a catalyst for forging economic growth, building peace and unity and development.

It goes without saying that, the 2010 FIFA World Cup enabled us to expedite the implementation of major infrastructure projects in line with our objectives of ensuring that we improve the quality of life of all South Africans.

For instance, Phase 1 of the Bus Rapid Transport System is already operational in Johannesburg and other host cities are also implementing various public transport systems. These are legacies that will be used by the public long after the tournament.
From the point of view of Government, we are impressed with the overall state of readiness, and we have no doubt that this World Cup will be a resounding success.

I look forward to relive the moment when Nelson Mandela lifted the famous 2010 FIFA World Cup Trophy on that memorable day when South Africa was awarded the bid to host this tournament.

And thank you Sepp Blatter for the confidence you have shown in us.
Ladies and gentlemen,

We will show the world that Africa is indeed alive with possibilities. Africa will never be seen in negative a light as before. We will keep our eyes on the ball all the time until the last whistle of this glorious FIFIA World Cup is blown.
We look forward to seeing you all in South Africa next year.

I thank you.