First, a bit about the picture. It was a cold and misty morning and Franschhoek is probably the most photogenic town in the country. I took this early in the morning on my way to the session on my book with the iPhone.
So the very first event around The Big Fix took place upstairs at The Elephant and Barrel, which you rightly gather from the name is the town’s biggest drinking hole. So there was the faint aroma of stale beer and cigarettes in the air as I discussed the book.
The event was sold out. It was great to be interviewed by the Cape Talk/702 presenter Mike Wills, who had done his homework and asked great – and sometimes, difficult – questions.
I know you don’t care about the great questions, so let’s move straight on to a ‘difficult’ one that comes up a lot. It is the issue of ‘Wasn’t this the only way to get the World Cup? They’re all bought, aren’t they?’
The argument goes that you have to do what it takes to secure the hosting rights. Who could blame South Africa for doing this when the benefits to the country were so enormous?
My answer is that this is a dangerous attitude. What you are arguing is that you entrust leaders to engage in corruption when they believe it is in the national interest. This immediately reduces bribery from a crime to a necessary nuisance. It goes without saying that if you are to fight corruption, you have to be opposed to it in ALL INSTANCES, even when it appears to harm your interests.
Incidentally, I think the supposed ‘benefits’ of holding the World Cup have been exaggerated. The economic benefits have simply not accrued and we now have very expensive and unsustainable stadiums that ratepayers are going to finance for a long time. If there is a benefit it is that the nation stood together and supported this event with such love and enthusiasm that it showed what was possible. But once the event was over, we went back to our old ways, didn’t we?