World Cup instilled national pride- Zuma

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pretoria-The hosting of the FIFA World Cup has effectively rebranded South Africa, transforming perceptions of the country's capacity and instilling immense national pride, says President Jacob Zuma.

Addressing a state banquet in honour of Brazilian President Luiz In cio Lula da Silva who is in the country on a state visit, Zuma said the unity displayed by all South Africans during the tournament was an invaluable benefit of the tournament.

"The explosion of national pride and the unity that has been displayed by all South Africans is an invaluable benefit of the tournament," said Zuma.

Zuma also predicted that the legacy would go beyond the superb stadiums, offering domestic football a priceless opportunity to progress in South Africa.

He said the hosting of the tournament also became a catalyst for development and investment in the country by improving sporting infrastructure such as stadiums, training venues and economic infrastructure such as airports, rail, public transport and telecommunications.

With just hours before South Africa hands over the host nation status to Brazil, Lula told the audience, that included FIFA President Sepp Blatter and several cabinet ministers, that successfully hosting the World Cup had demonstrated the country's ability to compete on the world stage.

He said this would change the image of the continent as a whole.

Lula decried the lack of direct air links between Brazil and South Africa and said he would make it his mission to change this before his term of office concluded at the end of the year.

Since his term of office began in 2003, Lula has worked hard to boost trade between Brazil and Africa to $26 billion, a more than five-fold increase.

Zuma praised Lula's commitment to the continent, which has enjoyed an unprecedented stretch of growth in the last decade due to factors ranging from a boom in commodity prices, increased foreign investment and official debt forgiveness.

Under Lula, the number of Brazilian embassies in Africa has doubled to 34.

Further, both presidents called for the reform of the major international financial institutions, saying they need to put aside their old way of doing things and focus on development in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

"We need legitimate and efficient international organisations that would be truly representative of the reality of the twenty first century- especially the growing world and developing countries," said Lula.

According to Lula, the organisation's greater focus on development of Africa, Asia and Latin America, would directly enhance global growth and reduce this unacceptable and harmful imbalance.

Meanwhile, Zuma said South Africa wants to follow the Brazilian example of economics as a device for social development.

Speaking to business people from both counties, Zuma added that with South Africa's hosting of the 2010 World Cup and Brazil hosting the event in 2014, businesses in the two countries could share ideas.

He said there is great potential to significantly expand the scope of South-South trade, adding that South Africa is positioned to be a strategic gateway to Africa for the Caricom and Mercosur groups, which Brazil is member of.

"The further exploration of these links will take our economic relations to even greater heights. To succeed, we need strong transportation links between our regions, so that we can take advantage of the many opportunities for enhanced trade," said Zuma.

The two countries on Friday signed a Strategic Partnership Declaration, which will further strengthen the economic relations and commit to annual political consultations between the countries to ensure bilateral interface in the post-Lula era.

They also signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperative Governance- that will help them cooperate in a number of intergovernmental affairs-taking their relations a step further.