Be good for just 4 weeks - Zuma

2010-05-20 22:24
Religious leaders pray for President Jacob Zuma and the World Cup during a national prayer meeting in Sasolburg. (Sonja van Buul, Beeld)
Sasolburg - President Jacob Zuma on Thursday urged South Africans to "be good" for the duration of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

“In this time, we need good South Africans. Let them, just for four weeks, be good. Just for four weeks,” he said at a women's prayer meeting at Zamdela Stadium in Sasolburg.

“When you are faced with a challenge, you must rise up to the occasion. This tournament calls for us to rise to the occasion as South Africans.”

He called on citizens to welcome international visitors, expected to stream into the country, with open arms.

“Let us forget our own problems for a moment and make other people at home in our country."

Zuma thanked the Free State for setting an example for the country, and said “it was indeed a prayer for the country".

Before his speech, Free State premier and ANC provincial chairperson, Ace Magashule, confirmed an earlier statement by the ANC Women’s League's provincial chairperson that the Free State ANC would support Zuma in the party’s next national elective conference in 2012.

“We are not talking succession. We are just saying the president must be president again and again and again.”

Deafening cheers

Among a loud cacophony of vuvuzelas from the crowd, Zuma blew on his own white vuvuzela before he was showered with gifts – some of which he had to give to the national soccer squad.

Zuma accepted a large hand-drawn card from the Zamdela Ministers' Association to present to Bafana Bafana, while the Free State ANC Women’s league gave him a framed Bafana-Bafana T-shirt to give to Bafana team captain Aaron Mokoena. They also gave him a shield and spear.

Before going to the stadium, Zuma visited 108-year-old grandmother Elizabeth Maloka in the local township.

As the crowd in the stadium waited for the president, they were kept entertained by singers and preachers, praying and wishing Bafana Bafana, the government and organisers of the soccer World Cup well.

Zuma was welcomed by deafening cheers as he walked through a guard of honour in the marquee set up on the stadium’s soccer pitch.

Dressed in a navy blue suit, he smiled and waved at the crowd of thousands, mostly women dressed in their church outfits.

'Haak Vrystaat, haak'

Earlier Free State Premier Ace Magashule was welcomed with Afrikaans cheers. The crowd was led by a master of ceremonies who shouted over the PA system: Haak Vrystaat, haak, (Go Free State, go) to which the crowd responded repeatedly in unison "Haak".

The phrase was made popular by Afrikaans entertainer Leon Schuster in the 1980s through his popular rugby song Haak Vrystaat, haak.

Like Zuma, Magashule was ushered into the stadium by a large group of dignitaries and bodyguards wearing scarves in the colours of the South African flag.

People danced and waved South African and ANC flags, while blowing vuvuzelas.

The crowd, from mainly Free State churches of all denominations, shouted "Halala, Bafana Bafana, halala" and "Good luck, Bafana Bafana”.

No games or world cup activities were officially planned for Sasolburg, but the teams from the Ivory Coast and Switzerland would be staying in Vanderbijlpark, just across the Vaal River.

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