Tuesday, July 14, 2009

South Africa Getting Bad 2010 World Cup Press Overseas

South Africa just can't catch a break. 

First the country's workers go on strike, possibly delaying the start of the 2010 World Cup. 

Now, anxiety and agitation over overseas press coverage of South Africa. 
Everyone knows the 2010 host country has social ills such as crime. But can someone spin some positive here? Please? 

Pierre van der Hoven, CEO of marketing company Southern Africa Direct, thinks the one-sided reporting on South Africa by the foreign media is damaging to the country's brand.

"Clearly we cannot expect the foreign media to put South Africa in a positive light ahead of the 2010 World Cup - we simply have to do it ourselves," Van der Hoven said, reacting to an article that appeared in the UK Sunday Times this weekend. (To read the article in question, please click here.)

It portrayed South Africa as a xenophobic nation flooded with starving refugees, where regular power outages are experienced and traffic lights are not maintained. (Two days earlier, the Times had another article about South Africa and their problems ahead of the 2010 World Cup. Read that here.

The article, "Starvation kills hopes of South Africa's rubbish-tip refugees" read: "Incomers hoping for opportunities from the 2010 Football World Cup are instead finding xenophobia, poverty, poor wages and squalid death."

"As the bread basket of the continent where poverty is a real issue, no one will deny that immigration is an ongoing issue in South Africa, but this article is one-sided and not factual," said van der Hoven. 

"It is not true that FIFA have their doubts about South Africa hosting the 2010 World Cup and many of the issues the author is referring to have long since been resolved. It is typical of the misrepresentation Africa continues to endure in the international media."

Sunday Times Africa correspondent, Dan McDougall, writes that strikes by underpaid immigrant workers are causing work on the World Cup stadiums to "grind to a halt" and that FIFA has voiced fears "over the preparations for what will be the largest sporting event in Africa's history."

"One particular concern is the state of the power grid. Power cuts are still common in most main cities. There are concerns about the wider infrastructure. In Johannesburg, street and traffic lights do not work in large parts of the city and routine maintenance has all but ceased," he writes.

Van der Hoven asked: "Has Mr McDougall even visited Johannesburg? Where does he get his facts?"

Van der Hoven's company, Southern Africa Direct, broadcasts positive and informative content on southern Africa on TV in the UK and worldwide on the internet.

"We have to show South Africa in a positive light, through articles, videos and TV productions. We have to tell our stories ourselves - because no one else is going to."

MY POV: Van der Hoven is right. But does he know how hard that job is going to be? Look at what some commentators on the online article wrote ...

"It is clear that some are just not capable of self-governance especially in Africa," commented Frank of Los Angeles.
"Why is anyone surprised by all this!" wrote PR of Manchester.
"I think this is one world cup I'll give a miss," wrote Peter K of Vancouver.

The misconceptions are hard to ignore and even harder to get past, unfortunately. 
Honestly, the only way I can see these ideas about Africa changing is by getting people to visit Africa. Isn't that one of the points about the 2010 World Cup? Getting people to come to South Africa and experience it for themselves? 


Anonymous said...

Yes, I think that's what Southern Africa Direct is all about - trying educate people about Southern Africa and getting them to visit the country for themselves.

Masonge Ngcaba said...

the biggest problem is a high percentage of the merchants of doom and gloom have never visted South Africa. Look up an article by Jeremy Clarkson on Times Online on his stay in Jo'burg.

One_Part said...


thought this may be of interest

Boycott 2010 World Cup said...

Well I am sorry to say, I live here, and unlike most South Africans, I prefer telling and hearing the truth; and confronting reality. I don't like white lies, black lies, or sell your soul for 30 pieces of silver 'public relations'.

It is impossible to deal with a problem you are not willing to confront.

As Beeld says, 57% of the people in South Africa, couldn't care less about baby rapes, farm murders, millions with AIDS, massive corruption and incompetence, rapidly deteriorating relationships between whites and blacks; as long as thier particular sports team is playing on the weekend.

Sad state of affairs -- a country of two faced hypocrits, as addicted to their Rainbow TRC illusion as a Cape Flats crack addict; willing to sell their souls for any 'high' of fake reality.

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