BBC: South Africa World Cup ‘just for the rich’

South Africa World Cup ‘just for the rich’

By Pumza Fihlani
BBC News, Durban

With a futuristic design, sky car and marble finish, the Moses Mabhida stadium has become one of Durban’s leading tourist attractions ahead of the World Cup in South Africa.

The new $450,000 (£300,000) arena was named after an anti-apartheid activist and hero of the black working class but some South Africans say his memory is being trampled on by people who are using the stadium to harass the poor.

“They should have called this stadium PW Botha – an oppressor – not Moses Mabhida, our father. It just makes a mockery of what he represented,” says Johannes Mzimela, who sells ice-cream for a living.

Mr Mzimela is upset at what he calls “hostile raids” by Durban’s municipal police, against traders found operating near the stadium or any of the sites earmarked for the World Cup.

Regulations imposed by football’s world governing body Fifa on host countries stipulate that no-one but its commercial partners be allowed trade or promote their products in the immediate vicinity of all World Cup sites.

Clement Zulu, who has been selling ice-cream for the past 25 years, accuses the Durban municipal police and the Moses Mabhida management of promoting inequalities between the “haves and the have-nots”.

“Big businesses who don’t even need the money like we do are the ones who will be able to sell here – they can afford to pay whatever is necessary for a permit,” he says.

‘Poor get poorer’

Anyone who is not a commercial partner has to apply to the host city’s municipal office for an “events permit”.

The penalties for transgressors will be a spell in jail or a fine based on the company’s profit.

Host cities, Fifa and the local organisers are obliged to create commercial restriction zones around stadiums and areas of importance during the tournament.

The stadium managers declined to comment on the street vendors’ comments but Fifa argues that they must protect the official sponsors from “ambush marketing” by those who would want to profit from the event without having contributed financially.

But many traders say they do not even know how to go about applying for the permits.

“We are being made to jump through hundreds of hoops so we can do for a month what we have been doing here for years – and that’s selling at the stadium,” says Nhanhla Mkhize, an ice-cream seller.

He says all hopes that the World Cup would improve his life have been dashed.

“Now I know it is just a reminder that the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer,” says the man from Ulamzi township in Durban.


Billions of dollars have been spent on revamping South Africa’s airports, hotels and building brand new football stadia in some of the nine host cities – all to accommodate about 450,000 international fans expected to touch down in less than one month.

South Africa is hoping to make most of the money back during the World Cup but the street vendors say they now know they won’t see a cent of those profits.

Jabulane Ngubane, also a street vendor, says the World Cup is threatening his family’s livelihood.

“The police chase us away from the stadium like we are criminals,” says Mr Ngubane, who sells cold drinks and crisps.

“If this is the wrong way of living, then they must show us the right way because when I look for a job I can’t get one and when I sell in the streets my trolley gets confiscated.”

He is from Pietermaritzburg and works in Durban, about 43 miles away, travelling home once a week to visit his family.

Mr Ngubane supports 13 children from his street vending.

Before the police crackdown, Mr Ngubane said he easily made around 400 rand ($54; £35) a day, and was able to send at least 1,200 rand ($161; £105) to his family at the end of the week.

When the goods are confiscated, the vendors are fined anything from 100 rand ($9, £13) to 300 rand ($40, £26), which in many cases is an entire day’s wage.

Perishable goods such as ice-cream are often damaged either during the raid or in storage.

As a result, Mr Ngubane says he was begun to resent the tournament.

“I want nothing to do with the World Cup; it has caused me too much pain already,” he says.

“I’ll be happy when this whole thing is over, maybe the police will leave us alone so we can earn a living for our children”.