Mbeki’s decision last week to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution and endorse Mugabe has heightened this concern. Now South Africa’s suitability as a venue for the 2010 World Cup has been thrown once more into the spotlight by revelations of South African Soccer’s links to the Mugabe regime.
This week, it was revealed that Peter Mancer – Marketing Consultant for the South African Premier League – arranged a deal whereby Paarl Web Gauteng (a subsidiary of Naspers the South African media conglomerate), printed 130 tonnes of propaganda for the Mugabe regime. The deal was worth R 2.6 Million. The South African Soccer League is no stranger to controversy and backhand financial deals. In the most sensational of these, the league’s five-man sponsorship committee – of which Mancer is a member – reportedly shared R200 million following a R1.6 billion TV rights deal with SuperSport (a Naspers subsidiary) and a R500 million league sponsorship from Absa.
Clearly Robert Mugabe has strong links to the shadowy network behind South African soccer and the 2010 World Cup. Thabo Mbeki chaired the SA 2010 bid addressing the FIFA executive committee personally. Naspers CEO Koos Bekker serves on the organising committee while Imtiaz Patel, CEO of Nasper’s subsidiary SuperSport, is a member of the Premier Soccer League Board. Doubtless through its various subsidiaries Nasper is expecting big benefits from the 2010 World Cup being held in South Africa.
The next piece of the puzzle is global advertising agency WPP’s admission that its Zimbabwe subsidiary, Imago Y&R had been conducting Mugabe’s advertising for the violence-wracked Presidential run-off. WPP Group services four of the five principal sponsors of the 2010 World Cup; Coca Cola, Emirates, Sony and Visa are thus linked to Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF regime.
Against such a background, South Africa could be considered lucky to have scooped the 2010 World Cup at all. The engagement with the discredited, unrecognised Mugabe regime – embodied by President Thabo Mbeki – has brought the suitability of South Africa as a World Cup host ever more into question. South Africa must understand that to deal with the Mugabe regime is to profit from the brutal oppression of a nation. No-one can shake hands with Mugabe and not be tainted by the blood on his hands. Charitable donations are not enough: the SA government, Naspers, South African Soccer and WPP must unite to condemn Mugabe and bring to an end any association with, or implicit support of his unacceptable regime.
Above all Thabo Mbeki must show leadership in ending his association with Mugabe. Sep Blatter has confirmed that he has an alternative venue for the world cup; Mbeki must ensure that it is an unnecessary precautionPost published in: News