Cape Town’s three biggest stories over the past few months – the power failures, the local elections, and the new stadium for the 2010 World Cup – have finally converged, and the folks at FIFA are nervous.
SA Blog readers will recall that the spate of blackouts which hit the Cape last month impinged materially on the outcome of the mayoral race, helping tip the balance against the then in-power ANC, and ushering a new, if shaky coalition into the city’s Civic Center.
Simultaneously, FIFA announced the stadia that would be used for the 2010 World Cup – including a big, brand-new one in Cape Town – and then re-announced its announcement, to make sure everyone was clear on the subject.
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Helen Zille, our new mayor (but only, perhaps, until Friday), remained unclear on the subject. Yesterday, she put the kibosh on the stadium until she could get a better grip on its financing. The stadium will cost the city about R1 billion (click here for exchange rates), consuming all its capital expenditure budget for an entire year. This in the context of a city whose majority of residents don’t have indoor plumbing.
Without the stadium, Cape Town can only host four World Cup matches – and none of the big ones. With the stadium, Cape Town can host seven, including a semifinal. If Zille’s coalition survives Friday’s no-confidence vote, it will be interesting to see which approach FIFA will adopt to get its way – sweet talk or the hammer?