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Published 11th June 2010

Vol 51 No 12


South Africa

Football fever, faction fever

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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As the world’s best football teams battle it out in the stadiums, the ruling party’s factions slug it out behind closed doors

As South Africa opens the World Cup tournament on 11 June, the most important national event since the 1994 elections, most of the visiting football fans will be blissfully unaware of the growing factional rivalries within the governing African National Congress. Yet for ANC-loyalists, the battles between the business-minded nationalist faction and their communist and trades unionist rivals may be more gripping than a Brazil versus Spain final. The expected 300,000 visitors will see the workings of Africa’s biggest economy and enjoy the benefits of the 30 billion rand (US$3.9 bn.) that the national government has spent on the tournament, plus the R9 bn. spent by the provinces.


The rise of the watermelons

The constitutional referendum is splitting parties, creating bizarre alliances and foreshadowing the 2012 elections


A disastrous half-century

The foreign plunderers have joined with the local elite to create today’s political confusion

With the fiftieth anniversary of Independence due on 30 June, discontent is growing. Much of it is aimed personally at President Joseph Kabila Kabange, who has been in power since ...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

African football fans descending on South Africa this week promise that pan-African solidarity will win out and that the longest surviving African team in the World Cup tournament will get continent-wide support. There is heated debate about which team that might be now that the injuries of Michael Essien and Didier Drogba have dented the hopes of the Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire teams. Might Algeria’s Desert Foxes or Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions pull off a surprise coup and surpass the 1-0 defeat of...
African football fans descending on South Africa this week promise that pan-African solidarity will win out and that the longest surviving African team in the World Cup tournament will get continent-wide support. There is heated debate about which team that might be now that the injuries of Michael Essien and Didier Drogba have dented the hopes of the Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire teams. Might Algeria’s Desert Foxes or Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions pull off a surprise coup and surpass the 1-0 defeat of Argentina in the 1990 World Cup? Or what about the continent’s economic powerhouses – hosts South Africa and their West African rival Nigeria? In Africa at least, there seems to be an inverse relationship between footballing success and economic growth. In the 1990s, Nigeria’s economy and politics were stifled by a succession of military juntas, but its footballing star was on the rise and in 1996 the Olympic team took the gold medal, beating Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. South Africa’s Bafana Bafana, also on a winning streak, clinched the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations. Since then, Africa has enjoyed a decade of GDP growth averaging over 5% a year but its football fortunes have sunk lower. So when banks such as Goldman Sachs and Renaissance Capital predict that Nigeria’s economy will shortly surpass that of South Africa, they might spare a thought for the Super Eagles’ fans this month. This might be the Eagles’ last chance to outplay Bafana Bafana, even if their fans can look forward to fatter pay packets.
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