Three months ago I started my speech in this house with the fact that there was 279 days left until the beginning of the Soccer World Cup. As we stand here today there are just over 180 days left. Yet it seems as though not much has happened as far as the lobbying for the three base camps in the province are concerned. We can forget about Mthatha, even when speaking with the officials, you can clearly see that they’ve written that idea off.

Buffalo City…At one stage we had a leading soccer nation – like Italy – show serious interest in selecting us. But the laziness and dare I say, incompetence of the officials and ruling party politicians, have allowed it to slip through our fingers.

We have Vuyo Zambodla, who was initially hired to lead the 2010 bid for Buffalo City, but now he has a completely different position in the office of the Mayor. Mr. Zambodla was quoted in the Daily Dispatch several weeks back saying that city should not expect any big names like Italy, France or Spain, as the city would not be able to handle the influx of fans of such big soccer nations. It scares me that a man who holds the position that he does, does not realise that the majority of fans will go to cities where the actual games are played.

Cities like East London need the big names to be noticed by the international community.

In 1995, East London hosted the Italian world cup rugby team, and to an extent, the Samoan world cup rugby team with no hassles at all.

We have been told that Knysna has secured a majored soccer playing nation for 2010. The Knysna and George area is significantly smaller than Buffalo City, yet they are prepared to host a leading soccer team.

Mr. Zambodla has told us to be prepared for Buffalo City to host a much smaller nation, like one of the African nations.

What this tells me is that the required work was not done by the officials and we now have to settle for a lesser team – that is, if they’re willing to settle for us.

The two remaining potential host cities in the Eastern Cape have important offerings that other major cities can’t offer.

Think about it.

The world cup will be played here during the South African winter. In South Africa, Port Elizabeth and East London have very stable winter climates. It’s not nearly as cold as it gets in Johannesburg, Pretoria or Bloemfontein. During June and July, Cape Town gets its winter rains, whereas the climate here is drier during that period.

What major city can offer a team the following?

• Travel from the airport to the hotel in less than 30 minutes, even during rush hour.

• Travel from the hotel to training facilities in less than 15 minutes.

• Travel from training facilities to all major medical needs (MRI scans, x-rays, medi-clinics, etc) within 5 minutes.

Two cities, not towns – cities – can boast this offering, namely Port Elizabeth and East London.

Lobbying for the two cities with offerings such as these, should be as easy as pie.

But no, we are being failed by the officials.

The people of Mthatha and its stadium was failed by their officials.

Buffalo City is being failed by its officials.

I pray that the relevant people in Port Elizabeth are not doing the same.

Officials that are hired based on political connections and not what they can do for their jobs are failing us – they are failing the taxpayers of the Eastern Cape and South Africa in general.

Tomorrow is the World Cup Draw. This is when the teams find out who they play and where they will play.

Host cities will be finalised soon after that.

However, the function of this department is not the promotion only of the soccer World Cup. The aim of the department is to promote and develop Sport and Recreation, Arts & Culture, Museums and Heritage and Library and Information Services.

The soul of a nation is reflected in its culture.

With regards to Arts and Culture, the department was meant to provide learnerships for eight children. This did not happen and an explanation in this regard is needed.

The department was also unable to support the in-school Arts and Culture programme, while the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council (ECPACC) not only received a disclaimer but its three year term of office has long expired.

It is then with dismay that one reads that the Department’s programme for Cultural Affairs in fact overspent their budget by 3,2%.

However, this is attributed to payments of shift allowances and the post upgrading of scientists in museums, which was not budgeted for.

We applaud the post upgrading – as we know our museums staff, library personnel and others, involved in feeding the cultural soul of our people – are mostly underpaid.

However, we cannot allow the seemly disjointed goings-on in the department, where money is taken from one project and used for something else, all because of poor planning.

In the end it is not the department that suffers, but the people they are supposed to be serving.

According to the APP of the Department, R6 million was budgeted to provide and maintain the PE Opera House, the Mtiza Camp-site and Ngquza Art Centre, but it appears from the annual report that only two facilities were maintained.

In many instances in the report, there are great disparities between targets and the actual achievements by the department.

The Geographical Names Committee and its sub-committee seem to be dysfunctional. This committee targeted to process 60 geographic names, of which only one was processed.

We cannot allow that we only focus on the world Cup.

It is not the only function of this department.

Having an active population means that we have a healthy population.

It is up to this department to ensure that sport development gets the attention it needs.

But indeed in this area, the department is also found lacking. It is projected that the department will under-spend its current budget.

This department is relatively small compared to some of the others, but it plays a vital role in the general well-being of our people.

We encourage this department to keep their eye not only on the balls, but also on the stages, cultural centres, arts projects and libraries.

The DA supports the report.

I thank you.

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