National News

Lula: SA enchanted the world

2010-07-10 09:19

Pretoria - Africa has enchanted the world with its "wonderful" hosting of the World Cup and Brazil will learn from this, Brazilian President Luiz Inicio Lula da Silva said on Friday.

"We (Brazil) now have tremendous responsibility on our shoulders but we are confident that we will present a World Cup as beautiful as this one," Da Silva told media in Pretoria.

He was speaking after signing an agreement on co-operation between South Africa and Brazil at the Union Buildings.

Lula, who was on a state visit to South Africa, described as "absurd" concerns that his country's poor airport infrastructure would hamper their preparations for the 2014 World Cup.

He said Brazil had budgeted for an accelerated growth programme.

"We are investing in infrastructure, something that has not been done in the past 30 years. We will be transparent with government spending and learn from South Africa."

One bad thing

Commending the Brazilian media for covering Africa's first World Cup with "great respect", Lula said they had shown things as they were.

He emphasised that although there were a few reports of World Cup problems, the warmth of the people and the spirit of the vuvuzelas went beyond that.

Lula said critics who had questioned the country's ability to host the tournament "can now see that South Africans are people that know how to seek for victory".

"The only bad thing about the tournament was Brazil's defeat by Netherlands," he joked, saying his team would claim victory in 2014 when Brazil hosts the cup.

Lula would not attend the closing ceremony of the cup on Sunday because of duties he had to attend to at home.

He had already been away for seven days and said he had received phone calls from Brazil demanding his return.

He also had to attend to the aftermath of flooding in the north-eastern parts of Brazil.

Duty calls

President Jacob Zuma said he would not try to dissuade Lula from leaving as he would have done the same.

"I invited my brother, but then he explained that duty was calling and I have no intention to persuade him."

Lula said he had been well received in South Africa and although he was initially criticised for doing so, he was the first Brazilian president to visit Africa a number of times.

"When I started travelling, they questioned what I was doing in Africa because there was poverty. For many years we've looked towards Europe and the US and ignoring Africa. There was a void in us."

He had been to 27 African countries so far and would be making his 28th trip to Mozambique.

Great potential

Lula emphasised the importance of bilateral relations between Brazil and South Africa, saying the countries were similar in many ways.

"We must not fear each other. We can be complementary economies, we can build things together and help one another."

He said previously the African continent was ignored because it was poor but it was now slowly managing to break away from this prejudice.

Brazil was South Africa's greatest trading partner in South America with the total trade between the two countries during the period of 2009 worth more that a billion dollars.

Zuma appreciated the fact that during his term in office Lula had prioritised relations with Africa.

"There is great potential for further growth in trade and economic relations," Zuma said.

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