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The World Summit on Sustainable Development

Yes, it's here. And with it a whole lot of new challenges and problems. All the preparation of the preceding year or so has spun into action. It remains to be seen if it was sufficient.

Preparation including the upgrading of current structures, as well as the fixing of long outstanding issues. New roads and the widening of others cost 4.75 million, sewers were fixed, lighting in problem areas cost another 220 grand, upgrading and repair of traffic lights another 2 million and on road markings alone 1.4 million has been spent. R4.2 million worth of new busses will be on the roads from Monday (by the way, today is Sunday). Private firm Pikitup (waste removal) is planning on spending R2.1 million and a further R2 million on recycling. Between the police and emergency services (ambulance and fire), R6.5 million has been budgeted for overtime alone. The necessary manpower will be sourced from the various precincts across the greater metropolitan (and no, this is not the States though we are getting used 'precinct and metropolitan).

It is debatable though where all these funds are coming from. Continuous reminders and press reports about how broke the megacity and it's surrounding municipalities are makes one wonder. Or are we still going to pay for this in future? I cannot see the gravy train stopping nor even slowing down to drop some 'gravy' off for this event. And of course there are those individuals that decided to grab this opportunity in ripping off delegates. Heard a story about a consortium that fully booked all the major hotels in Sandton (where most of the activities are planned) with the prospects of making millions off overseas delegates by charging their own rates for accommodating. What we all know for a fact are the private houses being offered as accommodating. at up to $5 000 a day. Some come with Rolls Royces, others with chauffeurs and Porsches. In Soweto you can get a house with a tour of Sowetos' nightlife for around R5 000 a night. Considering that this effort will last ten days, and the majority (hopefully) of the delegates staying for various reasons beyond this period, some people are in for BIG bucks.

Now how will government deal with what we know - the downside. The risk to all citizens are now extended to all visitors. Already a case of an Iranian delegate being mugged in Jo'burg. These robbers are also in for big money. They first ask for your passport, then American Dollars. Maybe it will give us locals a bit of a break. Then there is the incident with marchers last night. This group decided top march on a police station to hand over some demand on behalf of the homeless in the city. It turned out ugly with stun grenades, rubber bullets and teargas flying all over. A couple of journalists got arrested with some marchers. The march was not approved and therefor illegal. Obviously the police have their orders and government is definitely taking a tough stance on the criminal and disobedient element. They have to put up a tough front during this period.

Then there are the volunteers. Companies sprang up training and educating potential volunteers for the Summit. The organisers called for 5 000 volunteers, but with (maybe) only half the estimated visitors arriving, they only need 2000 volunteers now. In my industry ten thousand people volunteered their services (I was one), only 5 000 were needed. And maybe now even less. I sincerely hope that South African Service Providers have enough security personnel to counter any cyber attacks during the Summit. 57% of utility companies experienced severe attacks during 2001 with this figure rising to 70% in the first half of 2002. Protesters across the globe will be focussed on South Africa during the next 10 days with a definite increase in cyber attacks expected. On top of all this there is the new legislation parlaiment wants to force through on privacy. Seems they want the ISP's to carry all the costs of monitoring, storing and analysing all e-mail, web content and any other services offered by ISPs with bandwidth to the relevant government department on top of all the other expenses.

In the meantime local business in Sandton is suffering. Some restaurants claiming a 30% drop in revenue. The locals are heeding governments' call to stay away. And with not even half the expected 65 thousand foreigners confirmed, things are indeed looking bleak for these 'opportunists'. At least the locals (the stupid ones that is) can grab some of of town hookers for a change. Then again I suppose the Africa delegations will take good care of those. Past experience has shown that the rest of Africa loves stripjoints, hookers and shopping malls. I hope Jo'burg station (never mind Jo'burg International -Jan Smuts Airport) can cope with all the African gravy trains pulling in! The estimated R1.3 billion boost expected from the Summit is obviously a big enough carrot.

In the meantime crime is carrying on as per normal in other areas. In Durban four soccer players got hijacked of which only one managed to escape death. Aptly said by one victims' brother "I wish we had the money to leave this country". And that coming from an Indian. In Jo'burg crime syndicates aren't only targeting computer equipment but also new BMW's. Then there is the old question of priorities and the constitution. A guy killed a potential hijacker - he's up on murder charges. A similar case with a burglary where the owner fatally wounded one of the burglars. He's up for attempted manslaughter.

So to all South Africans who fled this country with crime being one of the reasons - nothing much has changed. Rape cases are on the increase, burglaries have come down a bit, so did car hijackings (shooting up in the charts again lately) with bank and in-transit robberies dropping quite drastically. Deon and Nicolette, stay where you are. You've been through enough.

And Mbeki is not making things easier either. With presidential pardons to 'comrades' who were not pardoned by the Truth and Reconciliation Committee we not only see more criminals on the streets but also have to put up with one of them committing another murder and getting off scot-free! Prisons are so overcrowded that petty criminals don't go to jail for long. And if they do, they come out better criminals than when they got in.

But Mbeki's jet is just about ready for delivery. Just a couple of million bucks worth of modifications still and it'll be here. The mods actually cost more than the jet. With 7 out of every 10 women patients in Baragwaneth  Hospital being HIV positive, can the ANC really afford turning a blind eye to the peoples' needs? More and more blacks are seeing the light. From fellow (black) gym go-ers to company drivers to fuel assistants (petrol jocks). The sad part is that most of them feel that there is no other political party worth voting for, so they just won't vote in any future elections. I hope the DP is taking note as these people are slowly becoming the majority.

Not a nice thing to say, but I hope this whole 'show' (nothing less than a big bulls**t show) backfires. At least the money that has been spent was long overdue and benefits the people in the long run.

Note that all views expressed here are personal. Information sourced from various freely available material. Copyright where applicable. 
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