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Corruption may ruin 2010 World Cup for SA

Staff Reporter

The 2010 World Cup soccer tournament is a prime target for corruption, editors were told in Johannesburg on Friday. "There is a real fear that South Africa, in the staging of the World Cup, could look bad in the eyes of the world because of the dangers of corruption," said Professor Danny Titus, of Transparency International.

South Africa’s 2010 World Cup soccer tournament is a prime target for corruption, editors were told in Johannesburg on Friday.

“There is a real fear that South Africa, in the staging of the 2010 Soccer World Cup, could look bad in the eyes of the world because of the dangers of corruption,” said Professor Danny Titus, chairperson of the South African branch of Transparency International.

He was addressing a Gauteng meeting of the South African National Editors’ Forum.

“There is no national picture of what tender fraud looks like in South Africa ... what the amounts are and the type of tenders involved,” he said.

The media and its investigative reporting function will be critical over the next two years in casting “sunlight” on the process leading up to the world’s biggest sports spectacle.

Titus described corruption as “seen as the norm ... the way to do business” in South Africa. “There is no sense of being watched over. There is a real fear we will look bad and lose credibility in the eyes of the world because of 2010 corruption.”

Transparency International and its South Africa branch are looking to the 2010 organisers to set up a partnership for vigilance against corruption.

It is estimated that corruption in Africa costs about $150-billion a year. This creates barriers to democracy, holds back development, affects the poor and increases the cost of goods by about 20%.

Titus recounted a recent incident linked to a World Cup tender involving stadium seats.

A company that had received praise for its diligent tender processes and which was about to be granted the job was told by an official about to sign the tender: “I need something to move my pen.”

The amount allegedly required to move the pen was R2-million. The company walked away from the deal.

Titus said South Africa is “relatively young in this business,” in view of anti-corruption legalisation only having being passed in 2004. This is the same status in terms of which African National Congress president Jacob Zuma is facing corruption charges, he said.—Sapa

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