Ladies and gentlemen, yesterday the President of the Republic of South Africa, President Jacob Zuma visited our national team, Bafana Bafana to motivate them when they were preparing for the Africa Cup of Nations kick-off on Saturday, 19 January 2013. The first citizen of our country broke his daily schedule to spend time with our national glory, Bafana Bafana to give them courage and assure them that South Africa is behind them, 100%.
In my own observation and conclusion is that the message the President wanted to convey to all South Africans is that our national team needs to be imbued with hope not mediocrity. Our youth need champions and winners not losers. Our youth need independence of mind, soul and spirit in pursuit of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) of the soul and Bafana Bafana can do that in this Africa Cup of Nations.
Our young people out there need to know that they have a bright future and that future is not in the distant horizon; but it is in what they plough today. We must be determined to show our youth through our unreserved support to our national team that their country and people value and love them. They must not abandon the flag; and must know that all South Africans support them.
Therefore, on behalf of the government of the Republic of South Africa, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the Confederation of Africaine de Football (CAF) for awarding South Africa the right to host the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in our shores from 19 January to 10 February 2013. We are particularly excited that this request to host came immediately after South Africa has hosted a successful 2010 Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup.
It is well known that the South African Football Association (SAFA) received approval from the Government of the Republic in September 2010 to bid for the right to host the 2017 AFCON tournament. South Africa was then, accordingly, awarded the right to host the 2017 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
As we all know, the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations had been awarded to Libya to host. Due to the political and civil unrest in Libya, and following a meeting of the CAF Executive Committee, it was announced that SAFA had been appointed to host the 2013 AFCON, and the 2014 Orange African Nations Championships. This award is accorded to the widely acclaimed fact that our country has successfully hosted a plethora of international and mega events ranging from the World Conference Against Racism, World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Rugby and Cricket World Cup to count a few.
Ladies and Gentlemen, South Africa is ready more than ever before. We are ready like yesterday. Our country is ready because, among other things, yesterday we converged our soccer loving people in Rustenburg as part of our mobilisation campaign for the AFCON tournament. The people of the North West came in droves to support the concept of AFCON Villages that will introduced for all matches of Africa Nations Cup. Their enthusiasm convinced us that in reality 'Yeyethu'.
We did so in Sandton and South Africans responded in numbers more than ever before and assured us that they will pack the stadiums come the 19 January 2013.
We also know for the fact that every four to five years, Africa witnesses one of the biggest and most prestigious mega sports events, the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). In African popularity, the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) surpasses even that of a multi-sports event like the All Africa Games. The universal appeal of football is undeniable and because of its mass following, its World Cup tournament including the Continental Championships are approximately 15 times bigger than the other regional sporting tournaments hosted by Africa.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) entrusted South Africa with the honour and responsibility of hosting its prime event, the 2013 AFCON. This would be the second time that South Africa would showcase this football extravaganza in its own soil - in itself a singular and historic occasion.
For all intents and purposes, the organisation and staging of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is going to be a resounding success which will live behind a tangible feeling of pride amongst all South Africans like the 1996 AFCON did. It will live behind the same feeling that was felt before, during and after the 2010 FIFA World Cup in our country. In the absence of a perfect score, the FIFA President, at the conclusion of the 2010 FIFA World Cup extravaganza, was quoted as awarding South Africa 'nine out of ten'.
Equally vocal on the success and outcome of the 2010 FIFA World Cup was the national and international media, many of the visiting football fans from around the globe as well as prominent world leaders and opinion makers - all showering South Africa with accolades and some even labelling it as the 'best World Cup ever'.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we believe that the 2013 Orange AFCON will live the same legacy for South Africa and Africa come 10 February 2013. After 10 February 2013, African football will never be the same again. This tournament will live a lasting legacy for generations to come especially being hosted in South Africa immediately after the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
South Africa boasts itself with the 2010 FIFA World Cup infrastructure through road and rail infrastructure, aviation, the stadia, information and communications technology, safety and security including criminal justice system, transport, and many more organisational advantages.
Our infrastructure is more than adequate to host the 2013 AFCON tournament as we boast with ten (10) world class stadiums to host a competition of this magnitude. We believe the hosting of the 2013 and 2014 football extravaganzas will make the tournaments less expensive, as our infrastructure is still new, whereas it might have required further work or upgrading by 2017.
Our county's broadcast infrastructure is among the best in the world and will be utilised to beam the television (TV) signals all around the world with no additional investment required. The road networks were recently modernised and can carry sport tourism traffic movement for this sixteen (16)-nation tournament.
Our tourism products are varied and can accommodate the expected hundred thousand (100 000) to hundred and fifty (150 000) expected visitors like we did during the 2010 FIFA World Cup when 3.1 million spectators attended the 64 matches across our ten stadia during the tournament.
Our people and their history of hospitality and the spirit of uBuntu will give all our visitors a fitting welcome to the shores of the Republic of South Africa. We are building on the legacy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and increase the country's exposure to world markets through sport.
Sport is the biggest contributor to nation building and social cohesion and yet it is less celebrated. This is not about money; it is about recognition. Sport is said to be a national religion in South Africa. In recent years it transcends race, class, language and geographical location. This is seen when our teams win in sport, the country witnesses a plethora of a cacophony of hooting cars, a trumpeting of Vuvuzelas, banging of dustbin lids in honour of our victory, and loud fireworks reverberates the streets of our country until our people seat comfortably enjoying their South African Boerewors braais and umqombothi.
Therefore, South Africa is ready more than ever before to welcome all our guests and visitors to the borders of the Republic for this edition of AFCON. In this regard we would therefore like to take this opportunity to present our cordial support and special welcome to all the participants in this tournament especially the players who will take part in this important event.
The Ministry of Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the South African Football Association (SAFA) for receiving an approval by Cabinet of the Republic of South Africa (RSA) to host the 2013 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and the 2014 African Nations Championships in South Africa.
We would also like to congratulate the AFCON Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the sterling work they have done so far and for the sleepless nights they went through to put together this prestigious extravaganza for South Africa in particular and Africa in general.
Special thanks go to the Government Communication and Information Service (GCIS) and the National Press Club (NPC) for putting together this gathering for us to report to the nation on the state of readiness for the AFCON 2013 and elevating publicity for the tournament. Well done!