No 2010 spoils for chefs

Raindrops fall slowly on the sad face of Mary Silinda as she throws away a chunk of porridge from one of her two big steel pots. She pauses for about 10 seconds, wipes her wet face with her jacket and starts washing the pots.

‘I don’t like throwing away things, especially food, but I’m left with no choice,” says a disappointed Silinda, before she takes her gas stove apart.

Like many other passionate football fans, the mother of four from Pimville, Soweto, had travelled to Durban last Saturday for the MTN 8 final between Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs.

But she wasn’t there to watch the game.
She is one of hundreds of women who sell food outside the stadium, often travelling across the country for big games such as this cup final, She never gets a glimpse of the action on the field, arriving early and leaving late after the fans have left.

Last Saturday the match was postponed to Tuesday evening because of the rain, something that left many football fans disappointed and the food sellers financially devastated.

As a result Silinda lost about R2 000 worth of stock.

‘We don’t normally lose when we travel with teams but today everything has gone to waste because of the rain,” she says.

‘I took a taxi in Johannesburg [R140] and R50 for my luggage and I had spent R1 400 for meat. This was a big match that everyone was looking forward to where I could have easily made [a] profit of R1 400.

‘I cannot come back on Tuesday because I have sold about 10 plates today. This is the price one pays for taking a risk that I took. I do this for my children as I have to pay their school fees and make sure that they go to bed with something in their stomach.”

Silinda, who has been running her food business since 1998, arrived in Durban at 6am on Saturday. The first thing she did was secure a space to cook and sell to the fans.

On the open space outside the stadium she prepared pap, ‘idombolo” (dumplings), vegetables (chillies, tomatoes, beetroot and cabbage) and also braaied beef and chicken on a gas stove. A plate with pap or dumpling, meat and vegetables costs R25.

Many of the vendors operate outside the stadium because they don’t want to pay the fees to be inside. Those who do operate inside pay between R150 and R400 per match, the fee determined by the stadium management. Many hold licences to operate and health inspectors visit them on a regular basis before matches kick off.

‘This really has to be the saddest day of my life. Imagine if I had chosen to pay the R400 and work from inside the stadium, I would be hitting myself more. I just have to go back home because I left my kids alone back in Johannesburg,” says Silinda.

Next to her stood an equally disappointed Sibongile Ndlovu, who travelled from the Johannesburg central business district, but ‘will have nothing to show for it. When I think of today I get upset because this is what will happen in 2010 but the reasons will be different,” she says.

Though international guests coming to the 2010 spectacular might want to try the famous pap en vleis, it is likely that they might not get to taste it.

The vendors say they will not be able to operate at the stadiums during the 2010 Fifa World Cup because of the football governing body’s strict rules.

‘We were told that if we want to benefit from the event we should buy moving kitchens which cost about R60 000 and we don’t have that kind of money. Selling outside the stadiums is like a tradition to us which Fifa wants to kill or take away from us,” says Ndlovu.

During the 2010 event food vendors can operate only outside Fifa’s exclusion zones, says 2010 Local Organising Committee spokesperson Tim Modise.

‘Inside the stadiums we will have Fifa’s commercial partners, like McDonald’s, operating and should they feel like contracting some of the local vendors they will do that. Otherwise vendors will be operating at fan parks across the country where they will work with the host cities.”

Delia Fischer, Fifa’s media officer, said operators must pay a licence fee if they want to operate at Fifa’s premises.

‘The stadiums’ precincts will be rented by Fifa, everything will be run accordingly. There will be a master caterer to which people have to be affiliated. We want people who will provide something good for the international guests,” says Fischer.

As in Durban this past weekend, many food vendors might be left with sad faces in 2010.

‘It has always been clear from the onset that we will not get a slice of the 2010 World Cup,” says Silinda.

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