2010 and the poor

2010: Streetnet International steps up World Class Cities For All CampaignWoody Aroun

“Nothing for us without us! Walala, wasala!” (If you sleep we will leave you behind) is the message that comes across loud and clear as street vendors, slum dwellers and the homeless prepare to do battle with local authorities in the run up to 2010. While the conflict over allocation of resources escalates, the position of the poor remains uncertain.

When Fifa President Sepp Blatter announced to the world that South Africa would host the Soccer World Cup in 2010, thousands of South Africans took to the streets to welcome the coming of the world’s most celebrated event, even if it meant waiting for another six years.

With 2010 just around the corner, South African soccer authorities are confident that the World Cup will boost our much needed coffers, alleviate unemployment and provide the necessary infrastructure to uplift our economy for decades to come.

Billions of rands are already being spent on the construction of new stadiums, upgrading existing facilities and improving our transport systems in anticipation of the world’s greatest event.

Heading the queue in a long list of beneficiaries are the politicians, soccer bosses, captains of industry, construction companies, tourist agencies, hotels and transport cartels.

In the scramble to join the list, the poor and the marginalised find themselves being pushed further and further down the queue as municipalities rush to clean up the cities, root out the street vendors, get rid of the homeless and demolish the slums.

Former unionist and Streetnet coordinator Pat Horn said that street vendors in South Korea faced a similar problem when the country won the right to host the World Cup in 2002.

The cities for all campaign originated in 1996 when Korean street vendors appealed to Streetnet to assist them against arbitrary evictions … they anticipated that the local authorities would chase them away, but with Streetnet’s intervention, there were fewer evictions”, said Horn.

She explained that when a country was called upon to host a high profile event such as the soccer World Cup, then the local government authorities would prepare to create World Class Cities to attract foreign investment, strengthen infrastructure and showcase their cities for scores of visiting tourists.

These preparations often involved evictions of street traders, demolition of slums and removal of the homeless … to where you can’t see the poor; modernization becomes a euphemism for removing slums”, commented Horn.

As the Streetnet campaign for “World Class Cities For All” gains momentum, Horn is confident that her organization will be in a position to mobilize all sectors of society against the tyranny of city bureaucrats and their associates.

Thus far the organization has held a national strategizing workshop in March 2007 and put together a National Campaigns Committee inclusive of a wide range of organizations representing women, informal housing settlements, social movements and progressive trade unions.

Unions like Samwu and Satawu have already come on board, as well as social movements like the Anti-Privatisation Forum, Landless Peoples movement, Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat) and activists representing the rights of children.

Horn went on to say that “the idea of the campaign is to build mass momentum around a set of demands, to expose the invisible things that bureaucrats do to create World Class Cities and to forge alliances between formal and informal workers … not artificial support but a genuine commitment that seeks to bring poor and desperate people together, including left formations and a wide range of constituencies around issues good enough for people to come together”.

Thus far Streetnet International and its local affiliates have called for a “National Policy Dialogue to be organized for public debate between government officials, FIFA World Cup Structures, WCCA Campaign partners and other representatives of poor and marginalized constituencies about ways of ensuring that the FIFA World Cup 2010 is successful and ALL enjoy equal opportunities to benefit from the fact that it is taking place in South Africa”.

Evictions bring povertyStreetnet is particularly worried that women are often “pauperised by losing their livelihoods” through relocation and slum clearance and has consistently highlighted the role of women in its campaign and demands.

Key core demands include the “participation of street vendors and other groups of the (urban) poor – with a strong focus on women and … an undertaking that no individual or group of street vendors shall be unduly disadvantaged by any urban improvement or urban renewal initiatives in preparation for the FIFA World Cup of 2010.

In Durban street vendors have demanded that the eThekwini Municipality Informal Economy Forum (EMIEF) be democratically elected and representative of all stakeholders and does not fizzle out into some kind of liaison committee reminiscent of the past – “the city manager must stop treating this forum as some kind of liaison committee”, said Horn.

Horn is adamant that the campaign will kick off and get stronger, even though every now and then it “limps into existence” in the wake of a continued struggle for material resources.

For now “nothing for us without us!! Walala, wasala!!” will continue to resonate as 2010 draws closer.

RED CARD LISTINGStreetNet has started a RED CARD Listing on http://www.streetnet.org.za/WCCAcampaignredcardlist.htm We invite you to send us quotes or statements from municipal authorities, politicians or other public figures involved in planing and urban renewal in preparation for international events. They qualify for this list if their views or practices are contradictory, obstructive, anti-poor or exclusionary.

The first Red Card has been awarded to :MAYOR OBED MLABA, Ethekwini Metropolitan Mayor, UKZN, South Africa, Convenor and champion of the NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development) Cities Programme :"It is happening everywhere. We have cleaned many areas in the city and also townships. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to clean up areas that have become unsavoury."Daily News, 08 October, 2007, Edition 1 "Evicted informal traders seek legal redress". Please submit any other nomination for Red Card to :stnet@iafrica.com

Specify the name of the speaker, the date, the media and its web site link if possible

‘We are the vanguard of professional soccer players’Azad Essa

Footballers are ultimately just workers plying their craft, while soccer clubs are simply employers running a business. General secretary of the South African Footballers Players Union (Safpu), Sipho Ndudozo, is determined to build Safpu into a powerful trade union for its football members. He spoke to Azad Essa.

Describe the purpose of the South African Footballers Players’ Union? We are the vanguard of professional football players in South Africa, representing the interest of the players. We represent about 90% of soccer players from both the PSL and the first division (coastal and inland).

What are the most pressing issues being faced by soccer players in this country? The contractual issues (including TV rights, education) as well as lack of benefits for the players (medical aid, provident fund etc) and the minimum wage. We are engaging the PSL on all these matters.

How common are poor employer practices in this sport?There are teams which still believe that they literally own these players and can do as they wish with them.

Some cancel players’ contracts without consulting the parties concerned. Some would even go to the extent of sending them packing once they realize the players are injured, without taking them through the necessary processes of rehabilitation as expected.

The very same employers won’t even subsidise the injured. However there are those who are adhering to good practices

You were recently quoted speaking about players' salaries and how salaries are still low? What about working conditions? Can you elaborate?Some teams have improved on the salaries of players however there are those teams which are not willing to change.

We need to define what we mean by working conditions. All these matters influence each other like being paid a good salary on time.

The only time we can begin to say that working conditions are better is when there are proper benefits such as medical aid, pension fund, minimum wage and so on for players. We really need to address the issue of social security and safety at work.

What are the lowest and highest salary packages for soccer players in this country? There are teams which are still paying players R1000 per month. The ceiling is not of paramount importance.

How do you suppose salaries can improve and what will it take?We conducted research and gave the PSL a copy of the research which agrees with us that the entry level for the PSL should be R12 000 per month and first division R8 000 per month.

It will need all the parties concerned to acknowledge the contribution made by players and a willingness from employers to pay them what they deserve. We will make use of all avenues available to us as workers to ensure that we get what is rightfully ours.

Is there a significant link between low salaries and poor football standards in the PSL?Experience tells us that a happy worker is a productive worker. Poor salaries are not the only contributing factor. There are others that we need to take into consideration if we really want to get to the bottom of this.

SAFPU launched a HIV/AIDS programme at the beginning of August. Does SAFPU see HIV/AIDS as a major problem within the membership? We need to move from the premise that Sub-Saharan Africa is the most hit according to statistics.

South Africa is part of the Sub-Saharan region. The players are part of the same community and they themselves are not immune to this disease. That is the point that we move from. Most are role models and loved by friends and foe because of the kind of work they do.

Their lives and behaviour influence many of our people. We believe that players can play a major role in promoting positive living in their communities. We are confident that they will play this role with distinction.

Are player unions common elsewhere? Do you have any linkages with them? There are player unions all over the world. There is an international association called the federation of international football professionals (FIFPRO) of which we are affiliated.

FIFPRO has four divisions namely FIFPRO Africa Division (SAFPU is represented by Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe on the board), Asia, America and Europe.

What are the unions’ most pressing concerns as 2010 approaches? We will continue fighting for what is rightfully ours and ensure that this World Cup doesn’t only benefit the minority but the majority of our people and in particular the players.

Azad Essa is a researcher and freelance journalist at the Industrial Organizational & Labour Studies Research Unit (University of Kwa-Zulu Natal)


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