South Africa’s World Cup of Protest

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The 2010 World Cup is just a few months away, and violent tensions are simmering under the Coca Cola and Anheuser-Busch branded landscapes of South Africa. South Africans have been evicted and displaced to make way for the games, government officials have cracked down on vendors and informal trade, and there have even been rumors of state-sponsored assassinations. According to Utne Visionary Dave Zirin on his blog The Edge of Sports, these actions are an echo of apartheid. Zirin reports:

In a normal month, South Africa has more protests per capita than any nation on earth. But when you factor in the World Cup crackdown, a simmering nation can explode. Over 70,000 workers have taken part in strikes connected to World Cup projects since the preparations have begun, with 26 strikes since 2007. On March 4th, more than 250 people, in a press conference featuring representatives from four provinces, threatened to protest the opening game of the Cup unless their various demands were met. These protests should not be taken lightly, A woman named Lebo said to me, “We have learned in South Africa that unless we burn tires, unless we fight police, unless we are willing to return violence on violence, we will never be heard.” Patrick Bond from the Center Civil Society in Durban said to me that protests should be expected: “Anytime you have three billion people watching, that’s called leverage.”

Source: The Edge of Sports

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