Wednesday, 13 January 2010

World Cup 2010 in the Rainbow Nation: the Angola lesson

The 2010 World Cup football competition is 148 days away. South Africans are ready to showcase their new and improved 'Rainbow Nation' to the world.

Zakumi, the mascot for the South Africa 2010 FIFA World Cup

The 2010 World Cup is more than just South Africa. It is about the entire African continent. A continent which sometimes gets short shrift by the world as an area plagued by civil wars, AIDs and recurring famines.
Bishop Desmond Tutu's Rainbow Nation is the successor state to the efficiently managed, white dominated apartheid South Africa.
A regime accepted by the Western world as 'one of their own.' President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher are remembered for many good things. Unflinching British and American support of the apartheid regime is not one of them.  
(Does anyone remember the 'Sullivan Principles' for doing business in white South Africa? Well, the good Reverend Leon Sullivan has gone global; in coordination with the UN, the updated Global Sullivan Principles were released in 1999!)

With the first multi-racial elections in 1994, South Africa shed its 'White Western' image and transformed itself into an African diplomatic powerhouse. Arguably, Zimbabwe's Mugabe cannot survive without material and moral support from South Africa. That's another story altogether.
This tale is about security and the 2010 World Cup.
South Africa has a reputation for lawlessness. Few will argue the reputation is undeserved. The country contains all the ingredients of a violent tinderbox ready to explode: weapons, poverty, corruption, racial tensions and porous borders.
If any group wishes to make a statement, there is no better forum than the 2010 World Cup. Sport is no stranger to political violence. The 1972 Munich Olympics siege is a vivid reminder.
Apart from the multitude of locally spawned groups fighting for their cause, sub-Saharan Africa has hosted global terrorists before. The August 1998 bombings of the US Embassies in Dar as Salaam and Nairobi might be considered the first shot across the bow by Osama and his band of warriors.
Somalia's Islamist Al-Shabab movement appears to have partnered with its international counterpart (Al-Qaeeda) in recent years. The infrastructure for a high-profile terrorist attack is available – if extremists have the will to execute.
Why has Al-Qaeeda left South Africa alone so far? Maybe it's because South Africa, unlike Britain and Spain, did not participate in the 2003 US led Coalition of the Willing which attacked Iraq.

High crime rates, including carjackings, exact a large toll from South African society

The country's shantytowns make for easy places to maintain sleeper cells. Money will buy protection. Often, there is underlying friction between Western oriented whites and African focused South Africans. South Africa's small Muslim minority of 1.5% even provides potential recruits.
The attack in Angola during the Africa Cup of Nations football event is a reminder that showcase events can potentially cut both ways. Let us hope that the Rainbow Nation has not turned its back on all aspects of white South Africa. White South Africa had a notoriously efficient security establishment.
I guess the police's 'Key Performance Indicators' must be easier to meet when a regime doesn't worry about the civil rights of 90% of the population.

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