The immediate creation of an independent lobbying unit is needed to secure major events for the Eastern Cape. Base camp selection for the 2010 Fifa World Cup is only months away, yet little effort has been made to attract participating soccer teams to the province.

What concerns the DA is how the ruling party councillors in Buffalo City continue to drag their feet. They held a few fruitless 2010 committee meetings but to this day, are not one bit closer to having marketed the second biggest city in the province to any of the major soccer teams. During my time as municipal councillor I made it clear to the ANC that there was strong interest from the Italian team to select East London as their base city. For those that don’t know, the Italians are the world cup defending champions. East London hosted the Italian Rugby team during the ’95 Rugby World Cup. The Italians were happy, they want to come back. We virtually just need to ask.

Yet the ANC councillors do nothing. The mayoral committee members are too busy fighting with each other with hopes of keeping their jobs. There may be a real chance that the city may lose its opportunity to be a base city altogether.

The people of the province needs a lobbying unit that we can rely on to do the required work to secure strong teams, with strong followers, bringing in their strong currency. The Eastern Cape deserves a dedicated team to promote the profile of this province as a top destination for large events. The income generated by the province’s economic from just one large event would more than justify such a unit.

As the qualifying process for the soccer world cup will only be completed at the end of 2009, the final 32 teams will probably only make their final decisions for base camps early in 2010, although assessment of potential ‘camps’ should take place well before this. We can’t wait till the next financial year. If you consider how hosting countries are chosen, you will know that we will not see the Soccer World Cup again on South African soil in our current generation’s lifetimes. Our time is now!
For further information, please contact John Cupido, MPL on 083 336 6987