The Witness - - OPINION -

KwaZulu-Na­tal De­cem­ber 7, 2018

THE prospect of South Africa tak­ing over from Cameroon as the host of next year’s African Cup of Na­tions foot­ball tour­na­ment will be of in­ter­est to the coun­try’s sports com­mu­nity and tax­pay­ers alike.

Cameroon has been stripped of the right to host the 24-team event next June by the Con­fed­er­a­tion of African Foot­ball (Caf) be­cause of poor prepa­ra­tion. South Africa, Mo­rocco and An­gola are re­port­edly now in the run­ning to be “res­cue host”, with South Africa viewed as the best op­tion not only by Caf but by the SA Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (Safa). Safa pres­i­dent Danny Jor­daan is re­ported as say­ing that Caf des­per­ately wants a “plug and play op­tion and South Africa is right now the per­fect Plan B”. He elab­o­rated: “Our sta­dia hosted the World Cup. It’s the high­est level of re­quire­ment for any event in the world and we de­liv­ered in 10 World Cup sta­dia. Now, we need six, so we are not go­ing to spend a penny. We are not go­ing to put a brick there, ev­ery­thing is in place. There’s in­fra­struc­ture costs and op­er­a­tional costs.”

The last sen­tence of this com­ment is what should be of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est to tax­pay­ers be­cause the gov­ern­ment is go­ing to be called on to con­trib­ute to­wards those costs.

Jor­daan re­port­edly does not think there will be a prob­lem con­vinc­ing the gov­ern­ment sup­pos­edly to help African broth­ers in a time of need.

How­ever, the gov­ern­ment may well need to be re­minded that char­ity be­gins at home and there are much big­ger pri­or­i­ties on the books.

There are cer­tainly two sides to this Af­con de­bate, but tax­pay­ers have a right to know about any ex­pen­di­ture by the gov­ern­ment, the ex­act amounts in­volved, and the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for it.

The gov­ern­ment, and South Africans in gen­eral, can’t af­ford an­other own goal, on top of load shedding.

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