Wednesday, July 23, 2008

South Africa 2010

I am getting increasingly concerned that the infrastructure in South Africa will mean the World Cup will be very different to all the promises we heard a year ago.

SABC is in court over its decision to buy cameras from a Japanese firm. The South African Broadcasting Corporation has apparently given 2010 Fifa World Cup digital broadcasting rights to Sony, to the detriment of a locally based company which won the initial bid. According to papers before the Johannesburg High Court, SABC board chairperson Kanyi Mkonza and her two directors, Gloria Serobe and Andile Mbeki, unilaterally decided to snub Digital Horizons, owned by Joe Mjwara, in favour of Sony. A committee appointed by the SABC board to look for a company which could partner the public broadcaster had earlier recommended that the tender should be awarded to Digital Horizons.

The tender stipulated that the successful bidding company was supposed to provide the SABC with four cameras (trailers) which would be deployed at various Air Time depots around South Africa, including Air Time headquarters in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, and would be used to televise major and prestigious TV productions primarily in the areas of sport, entertainment and events of national interest.

However, according to the Johannesburg Star, the court heard on Tuesday that the board chose to ignore the negotiating team's recommendation and appointed Mkonza and her team, who overturned the committee's decision. Advocates Richard Solomon and Kennedy Tsatsawane, counsels for Digital Horizons, argued before Judge Moroa Tsoka that the SABC board had failed to provide them with qualified reasons for their decision. "The decision to award the tender to Sony was not taken by the full SABC board," Digital Horizons argues in its papers.

The SABC board, through its counsel, advocate Peter van Blerk, argued that Sony "was a well-known and reputable company with Japanese connections". Van Blerk also said Sony's bid was R66-million less than Digital Horizons'.

Yes, Sony is a company with Japanese connections! Meantime there is a piece in the South African Times saying that the new fibre optic cable between SA and the UK, aiming to link other African countries around the coast on the way, is seriously behind schedule due to a lack of skilled people to work on the was supposed to be ready for 2010 and the world cup, part of the FIFA deal for giving the cup to south africa..but apparently now it will not be finished in time.

You also need to add all this to the power problems in the country during last summer (and more to come. This is because of poor management at the top of the Eskom power company - generating stations were mothballed rather than expanded over the last 15 years. All-in-all it looks like, for the moment at least, the FIFA will be nothing like what has been promised.

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