BASIC SERVICES BEFORE AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS

While there seems to be some excitement about the prospect of Port Elizabeth being one of the host cities along with Nelspruit, Rustenburg, Durban and Johannesburg for next year’s Soccer Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), some sensible reasoning will show that there is no cause for celebration.

The Nelson Mandela Metropole is under-funded by at least R228 million for this financial year. While officials are desperately trying to find ways to cut spending, we know that basic service delivery will be severely compromised to achieve spending cuts, inevitably leading to the lowering of living conditions of the citizens of the Metro.

This extravagance comes against the background of service delivery protests in places like Walmer township and Motherwell. Surely we need to fix these problems first.

The estimated, conservative cost of hosting next year’s Afcon-games in the Metro will be R34-million. The Bhisho government has pledged R15-million towards this cost, but we need to take cognisance of the fact that Bhisho still needs to honour the payment of the R559-million pledged to the Metro before the 2010 World Cup. If Bhisho cannot offer this long outstanding pledge, there is little evidence that government will honour the latest. And even if it does, tax payers will have to shoulder the outstanding R19-million.

Like a new car, soccer games and music festivals are really nice to have if you can afford it. If you cannot, it places a burden on your finances, and your ability to provide for the people around you. This is where we are heading with the African Cup of Nations. We cannot afford it and we should turn our back on it.