The new buzz word: Wifmism

Wifmism is an “ism”, that is a set of ideas, or system of beliefs or behaviour. It denotes that system of beliefs that I can only do something if there is something in it for me. In other words, one approaches a task with the question: “What is in it for me?”

Take the first letters of that question and add the “ism” suffix and you have the word. Wifmism. When you look at it, though, approaching everything from a selfish angle is really an understandable modus operandi. Surely, not everyone of us is altruistic? In fact, it is because altruism is so rare that we value it when we see it.

We would not if it was common. It is like money, is it not? Its value lies in its scarcity. Give it to very man, woman, boy and girl in equal measure and noone will want it because everyone will have it!

Right, right, Mr Banda, please get to the point!

Alright, my friends. On a May day in 2004, we celebrated almost like we did on an April day in 1980. Then Zimbabwe became independent- thanks to the efforts of our gallant sons and daughters whose bravery, dedication and commitment we honoured with commemorations last weekend. On that May day, South Africa was named the winner of the bid to host the 2010 Fifa World Cup soccer tournament.

We were celebrating each because of what the opportunity meant to us. Wifmism.

The point I want to dwell on today is that bringing this tournament to our part of the world will not mean much if there is no legacy.

Yes, South Africa, the region and, hopefully, the continent, will benefit economically from the tourism that the world soccer fiesta will certainly generate.

About 350 000 visitors are expected, and with them a potential boost to the tourism sector of about R9 million. Yes, the profile of South Africa, the region and, hopefully, the continent, will be boosted in no small measure by a successful hosting of the tournament, which I believe we can do.

But the point I want to make is that when the tournament is over and the last tourist has left our shores, I want to hear an ordinary man here, an ordinary woman there, a boy playing on the street and a girl coming from the shops saying: “Hey, it was all worth it!”

The point I want to make is that as many Africans as possible should benefit from the tournament being hosted on their continent otherwise the whole thing may just not have rotated. If you are not that young, you will remember Roger Waters and the group Pink Floyd singing in their hit “Another Brick in the Wall” off the November 1979 best-selling album “The Wall”:

“We don’t need no education

We dont need no thought control

No dark sarcasm in the classroom

Teachers leave them kids alone

Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!

All in all it’s just another brick in the wall’.”

I do not want to hear us singing that after the 2010 Fifa World Cup Soccer tournament in South Africa.

This is why I am happy that there has been so much debate and hype around the 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa Special Measures Bill which was passed by that country’s parliament in Cape Town on Tuesday.

The bill formalises the guarantees South Africa gave to Fifa when they bid to host the global soccer showcase, and so removes obstacles that may stand in the way of their implementation.

For me, how that will touch the common man is key. There have been fears that implementing the guarantees given to Fifa will sideline the local individual or company looking to raise receipts from the World Cup. Understandably so. There is no way that Fifa can host such a global extravaganza on its own.

Thus, it has commercial affiliates, in this case 15 Official Partners who join the Licencees and Official Broadcasters at the top table that enjoys the benefits of direct association with the tournament.

To protect this access to direct association that the commercial affiliates pay for, Fifa puts in place measures to prevent ambush marketing. It then requires of the host nation, guarantees that these measures will not only be observed, but also enforced.

One of those guarantees is the “clean stadium” concept. In the run-up to the tournament, local organizing committee will hand over to Fifa stadiums devoid of commercial content. Most of them will be renamed just in case their normal names are such as will cause conflict between Fifa and its commercial partners.

Therein lies the rub, with the likes of Vodacom and Absa standing to lose from giving up their naming rights during that period.

And just where does that leave Lazarus hoping to benefit from the crumbs that will inevitably fall from Dives’ table?

Danny Jordaan, South Africa 2010 chief executive, has said the World Cup will create more than 129 thousand jobs, with direct expenditure in the country totalling R7,2 billion. That should cheer up the unemployed.

But what about those employed in the informal sector? Those who want to move along or up and down the terraces, hawking their biltong, memorabilia, mints, peanuts and popcorn to the ready market watching the matches?

Will they sell more than usual during the tournament? I ask because if their sales do not receive a boost because the tournament came to he continent then what good is this thing to the continent?

Thus, it was encouraging to read that during the parliamentary hearings of the Special Measures Bill, MPs asked about trading in the radius of the match venues.

The head of the Fifa World Cup office in South Africa, Michael Palmer, pointed out that there would be restrictions on trade aimed at protecting the rights of Fifa’s official sponsors, but assured the legislators that:

“There will be definitely be allocated areas for small business people. The corner shop next to the stadium won’t be closed down.”

If it is, then 2010 would just be another brick in the wall.

August 2006
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