Ignoring the will of the poor; a danger to the games and rightfully so…but opportunity for business to help out?


Today’s article in Scotland’s Sunday Herald, chronicles the plight of the poor and workers in light of the many promises made around jobs and development leading up to the World Cup.  While I can’t vouch for the reputation of this newspaper’s reporting, the claims being made of workers getting paid pennies and communities being displaced for construction projects are not hard to believe.  Strong-man tactics and politics, particularly by those in the Zuma camp, are hardly new, and with the World Cup only 306 days away, I’m sure anyone standing in their way, will be swept aside.

Now I’m writing on this because not only is it wrong, but with a nation depending on the strong backs of laborers to complete the many remaining infrastructure projects around the World Cup, it is a huge risk for the government and business to ignore the plight of the poor and the workers.  They are a huge constituency, though not the wealthiest or the most powerful, but where they may lack in rands, they have a distinct advantage in man (woman and child) – power.

Photo grabbed from www.roadto2010final.blogspot.com - thanks Cesar!

Photo grabbed from roadto2010final.blogspot.com - thanks Cesar!

A few weeks ago we saw the debilitating effects of the workers choosing to strike; stadium construction came to a stand-still for a few days.  And the effects will be even more disastrous if they choose to do so over the next year.   The room for error is small and the preparation schedule is tight; even a few days off track and projects will get derailed!

So while I feel that they government has to do more to deliver on promises to workers and the communities being effected by World Cup preparations, I do see this as an opportunity for businesses (sponsors or not) to get involved, chip-in, and build some good will with the populace, and perhaps make a few friends in the government as well.

It’s not businesses responsibility to pay the wages of workers or rebuild the homes of the displaced, but they could help out in other ways.  Could Hyundai/Kia provide free transport for workers?  Could MTN provide a number of free call-credits for stadium workers?  Could McDonald’s provide free lunches/meals for workers?  Could Adidas add some school-house building to those pitches being built around the country?  Again, while I don’t advocate for the private sector taking on the responsibility of government, it seems like there are opportunities, if done authentically and in good-will, for business to contribute to guaranteeing the completion of projects and therefore a successful games, but also win some points with potential customers.

Full article can be found here: http://www.sundayherald.com/international/shinternational/display.var.2524562.0.0.php

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One Response

  1. dear john,

    thanks for keeping that blog alive. just did spend quite some time on this site and found many valuable information and ideas, also, since i plan to write my master thesis (marketing & csr) about the upcoming wc.

    regarding your ideas: i think they are more than just ideal proposals. the 2010 wc is different than, eg., the last one in germany, where, e.g., infrastructure was already given and just needed slight improvements. and of course, germany was by far more able to handle these tasks.

    thus, i think it MUST be in the corperate sponsors’ interest to support the wc and south africa by more than just a few marketing and sponsoring events. all these firms claim to be corporate citizens, with reputable and sustainable csr-practices (as we all can read in their shiny csr-reports).

    but with the world cup coming up, this would have been a ‘once in a while chance’ to really show and proove their csr engagement. instead, i can’t find any information on the websites of these companies (besides, OF COURSE, their great sponsorship involvement).

    again, this wc is a very special one, hosted in a country, on a continent, that

    1. would need a lot of support for solving the existing problems
    2. where many western companies have a deep (negative) inpact on the economic development and
    3. make a considerable profit, and, as we all know, not in most people’s interest

    why not donating the profit, these wc – sponsors make in 2010, for some long-term projects that REALLY work on and support the urgent problems that south africa / the african continent faces?! that would be one huge symbol, and one of great ideas that perhaps opens other corporations’ eyes …. helping without the typical financial aspects & interests in mind. that, as i believe, would be a far more valuable, authentic and credible csr – policy.

    cheers,
    michael

    (drop me an email if you’d like to discuss more. would be happy to have yours, too, as you seem to have a lot of insight in the topic already).

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