Friday, March 12, 2010

Nelspruit's Stadium A Sore Spot for Impoverished Locals

Nelspruit's $137 million World Cup stadium has locals angry about the lack of attention officials are paying to the city's thousands of impoverished people. This piece examines the controversy surrounding the stadium, corrupt local officials and the ignored needs of locals.

Such boasts may well turn out to be true, for South Africa has spent more than $6 billion on stadiums, roads, airports and other projects. But Nelspruit, in preparing for its own six hours of championship soccer, is instead an example of the nation at its worst, with distressing inequality — measured by some economists as the worst in the world — and an epidemic of local corruption that often leads the downtrodden to rise up in anger.

Simon Magagula lives in a mud house accessible by a dirt road whose cavities deepen with each rainfall. His doorway is a short jaunt to the new stadium. “Those who’ll benefit from this are the wealthy that already have plenty in their hand,” he said, not in resentment so much as weariness.

And indeed, with the stadium project came an infusion of money, catnip to the corrupt who congregate at the junction of money and power.

Cost of Stadium Reveals Tensions in South Africa
The New York Times
March 12, 2010