CONSIDERING POST-EBOLA LIBERIA (PART TWO): A CRISIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY

first_imgThe thrust of this second article of the series on what happens to Liberia after the Ebola crisis is on how we may turn the havoc of Ebola into a huge opportunity to make a great nation and a better people. Most human beings dread disasters, crises, and catastrophes because of the real danger and threat they pose to peace and comfort and life itself. But God Almighty can bring good out of evil (divine providence) and a crisis can be an opportunity to change for the better. The introductory article on the grave nature of the Ebola crisis observed the following key points:There is no doubt that the Ebola outbreak is affecting seriously or challenging our existence as a nation and very way o life. Ebola is forcing us to change how we greet one another, show affection to each other, and how we show love and care for our sick. Naturally we are a hospitable people who love to shake hands, hug and embrace as we welcome and cater to family, friends and strangers who come to our homes. But the Ebola menace is denying us of that basic innate instinct!Ebola is causing a lot of stigmatization among ourselves and from outsiders. The Ebola virus is so deadly that it incites fear and panic among families, places of work and play, and communities. It instantly drives away people from those who need them most. People who are suspected of having Ebola, those who have recovered from it, and those who work at Ebola treatment centers are shunned in some instances. Liberians who travel abroad and those who live in foreign parts are sometimes made to feel that they are a danger to have around and thus despised. A bishop told me while in another African country he announced that he was a Liberian and the immigration lady instantly said, “Bishop, I am afraid of you O”.Ebola is undermining the family bond and causing divisions in some instances. I hear sad stories of some family members abandoning one another for fear of Ebola. To see your wife or child or mother sick and be told not to touch the suffering person is a terrible feeling to contemplate. Someone has said that Ebola is a mean disease!Ebola is killing an already fragile economy and is doing so fast. It has slowed down economy activities and created a new wave of unemployment. All learning institutions of the country are closed. The little ones are deprived of learning.  Most of those working with our mining and forest concessions, road construction, public and private offices and on the hydro are forced to stop work and in some instances are not paid. They, their families and dependant are severely pressed to survive one way or the other. Non-food small businesses are drastically hit. The prices of food and other essentials are going up and are likely to escalate.The already much distrust between the government and its people (the Masses) is apparently increased by the Ebola crisis. A lot of people assume and speak as though for a fact that the funds allocated to fight Ebola are being squandered and are used to enrich a few against the majority. Ebola turns families and communities against one another out of fear. It causes stigmatization and leaves a permanent scar. But is this all to Ebola? Or can we turn this greatest of national challenges into something to make us better? Yes, I suggest, we can and should. How?Joshua David Stone and Gloria Excelsias assert that every crisis is an opportunity: “Any crisis is an opportunity to change direction in your life”. They reveal that the word crisis is of Greek origin and it means “a turning point in a disease.” Their conclusion is: “So a crisis is truly an opportunity for a turning point in our lives”. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks of turning our liabilities into assets. He uses the perennial example of Helen Keller who lived in the late 1880’s and early 1900’s. Made blind and deaf by a debilitating disease at the age of nine, she rose above the challenges in those days of being blind and deaf to acquiring a university degree and becoming an author, a lecturer, and an activist for the disabled. She could have mourned and blamed other people for her condition. No, rather she worked extra hard and excelled above many normal persons! Some experts in how to turn problems into opportunities speak about “turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones” in going higher rather than lower.We all need to believe in our hearts and attitudes that Ebola will be over, will be defeated. We now have an opportunity to rethink  how we think about ourselves (mindset) and live (conduct). There is a need for us to reconsider our national agenda and put a lot more emphasis on health, education, infrastructure, how we manage what we have (vast natural and other resources), and creativity in making the most of the numerous opportunities that come our way. Someone has observed that when we face inevitable changes in life, and they will come from to time, we have two choices: either to cry and give up and let the changes do whatever they will or we can use them to get better. We need to move from fine talking and planning to actual doing with all seriousness. More will be said in subsequent articles about how we can turn this Ebola crisis into a great opportunity to make us better.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Tax revenue declined in 2018 – End of Year report

first_imgThe Government collected $198.5 billion in tax revenue for the year 2018, but while it amounts to a large chunk of Government revenue, the reality is that it is below the 2019 budget projections.The Guyana Revenue AuthorityThis is according to the 2018 End of Year outcome report, which was recently released by the Finance Ministry. In the report, it is recorded that this tax revenue accounted for 91.6 per cent of Central Government’s revenue.According to the report, the $198.5 billion is a decline of $1.0 billion or 0.5 per cent below the revised projection in Budget 2019. It noted that in 2018, the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) remitted $117.5 billion or 59.2 per cent of tax revenue collections.This, the report says, reflects higher remissions for companies and businesses. Meanwhile, non-tax revenue increased by $0.8 billion, 4.8 per cent above the $17.4 billion projected in Budget 2019. Government deficit was marginally smaller than expected, the report shows.“The Central Government recorded a fiscal deficit of $27.3 billion in 2018, or 3.4 per cent of GDP, smaller than the projected deficit of $31.2 billion, or 3.9 per cent of GDP, projected in the 2019 Budget,” the report states.“The smaller than anticipated deficit was due to lower capital and current expenditures. Tax and non-tax revenue collections in 2018 were $216.7 billion, 0.1 per cent below the projection in Budget 2019.”In September of last year, GRA Commissioner General Godfrey Statia had disclosed that billions of dollars were collected as of the end of August through the imposition of a tax amnesty.According to Statia at the time, the GRA had managed to collect over $5 billion so far and this figure may increase. Statia also reminded that this was the last extension that will be granted to the amnesty, while encouraging defaulters to pay.The tax amnesty worked by allowing taxpayers who file and pay all principal taxes on or before June 30, 2018 to have all their interest and penalties waived, while those who filed and paid all principal taxes between July 1, 2018 and September 30, 2018 would have 50 per cent of interest and penalties waived.At the end of the previous amnesty which ended in June 2018, it was announced that $3 billion was raked in, but this number had subsequently climbed. The final amnesty ended on September 30 last year.last_img read more

“We will not be intimidated!” – Opposition Leader

first_imgOpposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo speaking with the media outside SOCU’s headquarters on Tuesday… as SOCU briefly detains Jagdeo, Dr Luncheon among othersBY DEVINA SAMAROOTension, suspense and apprehension swept across the nation as the masses followed with close interest the egregious arrest of former top Government officials by agents of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) in relation to their investigation of misappropriation of State assets.Former President and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, former Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, and former Natural Resources Minister Robert Persaud were among those who were taken into custody for questioning at SOCU’s Headquarters on Camp Street on Tuesday afternoon.Other persons, who were detained and questioned are General Manager of the Guyana Gold Board and daughter of former President Donald Ramotar, Lisaveta Ramotar; former President of the Private Sector Commission, Ramesh Dookhoo; former Secretary to NICIL Marcia Nadir-Sharma; and the son of former Labour Minister, Dr Nanda Gopaul, Dr Ghansham Singh.These arrests and detentions come days after Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan threatened criminal charges against former Government officials, causing many in the Opposition camp to believe the actions taken by SOCU were politically motivated by the Executive.But Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo lashing back at the Government on Tuesday said the actions have nothing to do with fighting corruption but rather about instilling fear and intimidating those who resist policies of the coalition Administration.SOCU had requested several officials including current parliamentarians to visit its Headquarters for questioning in relation to the Pradoville 2 case but one of their attorneys, Anil Nandlall responded by informing the Authority that interrogation can take place at the Office of the Opposition Leader, Church Street.ArrestsSOCU officials arrived at the Opposition Leader’s Office shortly after 14:00h under directives to “arrest” Dr Luncheon, who immediately complied.Dr Luncheon, speaking to the media as he was being escorted by the agents, repeated his unawareness of the basis of his arrest and pleaded his innocence.At the time, Ramotar’s daughter and the former Natural Resources Minister were already at SOCU’s Headquarters. Guyana Times understand that they voluntarily visited the office for the interviews and upon arrival, they were detained.Ramotar’s daughter was detained for over seven hours.Shortly after Dr Luncheon was arrested; SOCU’s Head, Sydney James and British Advisor to SOCU, Dr Sam Sittlington arrived at the Opposition Leader’s Office and requested that he head down to the headquarters for questioning.Speaking to media operatives afterwards, Jagdeo said he was “arrested”.“After the media left, they came over and said you are arrested. My lawyers who were there, asked and there was a hemming and hawing about the nature of the charges, nevertheless we did not resist arrest,” he explained.Jagdeo explained that ahead of his interrogation, he asked the agents whether he is being questioned in his private capacity or his official capacity as his actions as President are immune.“I asked if they are asking questions in my private capacity or official capacity because in doing that you are going to breach the veil of immunity that I have for official acts and that will have far reaching consequences in this country,” he stated. The Opposition Leader said he declined to answer questions posed to him in his private capacity. He disclosed that questions were relating to the audit reports’ findings on the Pradoville 2 transaction, NICIL and NCN operations.Jagdeo anticipates that charges will be laid, given Government’s “agenda”, but assured that the charges will be challenged in the courts.Political pressureIn analysing the situation, the Opposition Leader said he strongly believes these unprecedented actions taken by SOCU are politically motivated and meant to silence the vociferous voices against the wrongdoings of the coalition.“I sympathise for the people who work here (SOCU) because they are under severe political pressure. Every week, the Head of the State Assets Recovery Unity, Dr Clive Thomas speaks about who they should lock up. A week ago, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, ahead of a Police investigation, talked about locking up people this week. The Attorney General put $100 million in his budget to come after political opponents,” he outlined.In a press briefing moments after Dr Luncheon’s “arrest” and shortly before his own, Jagdeo declared that the actions being deployed by the SOCU will go down in history as one of the greatest acts of injustices in Guyana.“I spoke about this Government’s newest attempts to intimidate society guided by a mistaken belief that they will make the citizens more compliant and have people be fearful of criticising them and exposing their wrongdoing,” he remarked.Jagdeo maintained his long held position that Government’s priorities are backwards as instead of focusing on developing the country, it is employing vindictive and witch-hunting strategies.“The reason the Government is doing this is because it is failing miserably in every single area across the country. It is facing the wrath of many ordinary people, [People’s Progressive Party] PPP supporters as well as [A Partnership for National Unity] APNU supporters because it has not delivered on any of its promises, it can’t lead this country to a prosperous future. In fact, people’s welfares are declining, more and more people are protesting its actions… the country is in economic disarray and we are seeing a steady insidious move to erode our constitutional rights,” he stated.But the Opposition Leader reaffirmed that the PPP will not be intimidated and will continue to expose and speak out against the transgressions of the government.SOCU’s roleJagdeo also questioned what he saw as the subversion of SOCU’s role. He explained that the Unit was established under the GPF for the purpose of supporting the Financial Intelligence Unity (FIU) in investigating organised crime.He reminded that it was APNU was constantly cried that the entire economy was developing on drugs money.In this regard, the former President asked why the SOCU has not yet launched any probe, made any arrest or laid any charges against drug dealers, gold smugglers or money launderers.“Yet we have not witnessed a single action taken by SOCU against any drug dealer or money laundering of persons who have smuggled billions of dollars or gold but we have seen the arrest of Dr Luncheon by SOCU because the Government believes he got a house lot at Pradoville 2 fraudulently,” he reasoned.Nonetheless, Jagdeo warned that those who misuse their offices now will face the consequences in the future. The reason these persons are being questioned is because they purchased property at the Sparendaam seawall area commonly known as “Pradoville 2”.The current Administration contends the transaction is a criminal act because of the belief that it was sold below market value.However other persons who have property in the area including former Army Chief Gary Bess and former President of the Caribbean Development Bank, Dr Compton Bourne have not been summoned for similar questioning.Govt’s responseIn a statement after the drama died down, Government indicated its satisfaction with the work of SOCU and dismissed suspicions that Unit was acting under its instructions.More persons are expected to be questioned during the course of the week including former Government Ministers Priya Manickchand, Clement Rohee, Irfaan Ali and Jennifer Westford.last_img read more

I understand why Arsenal fans are angry, admits Cech

first_imgFirst-half goals from Bernardo Silva, David Silva and Leroy Sane left sixth-placed Arsenal 10 points off the top four and facing the prospect of missing out on Champions League qualification for a second successive season.With seven defeats from 13 games across all competitions in 2018, Wenger’s future is reportedly in doubt as the Arsenal hierarchy ponder ending the Frenchman’s reign after almost 22 years in charge.The Emirates Stadium was half-empty for the City game and the fans that did turn up in freezing conditions were quick to show their frustration at Wenger and his players.A section of the crowd chanted ‘you’re not fit to wear the shirt’ as the players traipsed off at half-time, with jeers spreading throughout the stadium at the end of the game.Gunners goalkeeper Cech had no complaints about the supporters’ fury, saying: “I understand the frustration of the fans.“You come and you want your team to do well, and when you are 3-0 down at half-time then you are not happy.“Everybody has an opportunity to make their feelings known. Football fans — this is their way of showing this. Second half we improved but the damage was done in the first half.“With the conditions like that unfortunately so many people could not turn up to the stadium. It is unfortunate people miss out on a big game. But that is something we cannot control.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Petr Cech was beaten three times in the first half as Arsenal slumped to another heavy defeat by Man City © AFP / Glyn KIRKLONDON, United Kingdom, Mar 2 – Petr Cech says he can understand why Arsenal fans turned on their struggling team during Thursday’s chastening 3-0 defeat against Manchester City.Just days after losing by the same scoreline to City in the League Cup final, Arsene Wenger’s side endured another miserable blow at the hands of the Premier League leaders.last_img read more

‘Dutch Xavi’ brushes off Premier League interest

first_img Jordy Clasie West Ham and Southampton target Jordy Clasie is focusing on playing for Feyenoord as speculation continues to grow around his future.The midfielder, dubbed the ‘Dutch Xavi’, played for the Netherlands at this summer’s World Cup and made 37 appearances for Feyenoord last season.Clasie only signed a new deal last summer, ending speculation at the time that he would be off to either Arsenal or Tottenham.And now the 23-year-old has confirmed he is once again focusing on Feyenoord, despite being linked to Porto, West Ham, and Saints.“Obviously, Porto would be a great club for me, but I cannot say more than that,” Clasie told Fox Sports.“For now the important thing is to be focused on Feyenoord.” 1last_img read more

Environmentalists offer deal to Tejon developers

first_img160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! GORMAN – Environmentalists offered to withdraw opposition to development of the sprawling Tejon Ranch if the builder agrees to set aside about 380 square miles in the Tehachapi Mountains as wilderness. The offer was designed to persuade developers to scale back plans on the 270,000-acre site some 60 miles north of Los Angeles and to more than double the amount of land to be preserved – 245,000 acres. The offer was dismissed by Tejon Ranch Co. officials as unreasonable, but the developer left open the possibility of more discussions with the coalitions of environmentalists. Eight months earlier, Tejon Ranch Co. and a national land trust hailed an agreement to sell more than one-third of the ranch for use as a nature preserve. But that failed to satisfy the Tejon Natural Heritage Park Committee, a coalition of 12 conservation groups. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant Committee spokesman Dan York said the coalition proposal would help protect the patchwork of ecological systems and endangered species worthy of state or national park status. Tejon Ranch Co. plans to build three large urban centers on the property. Tejon Mountain Village would include a 23,253-acre resort with up to seven spas and boutique hotels, 160,000 square feet of commercial space and up to 3,450 homes. The two other projects would be built near Interstate 5 – Centennial, a city of 23,000 homes along the southern flanks of the Tehachapis, and Tejon Industrial Park on the northern flank of the mountain range. Tejon Ranch President Robert A. Stine objected to reconfiguring development to fit the aspirations of environmentalists who, he said, are stirring up controversy to “increase their donations.” “Our board of directors has authorized up to 100,000 acres for a nature preserve,” Stine said. “These environmentalists want more. But it’s not their land. They don’t own it. It belongs to our shareholders.” last_img read more

DD NOTICE: REGISTRATION FOR WATERSIDE HALF MARATHON CLOSES THIS FRIDAY

first_imgNext month’s Waterside Half Marathon, Sunday 14th September from the Gransha Park grounds, Derry-Londonderry is pulling in the entries by the day but prospective runners should note that registrations will close this Friday 22nd August.Immediate entry therefore is recommended and this can be done online at www.derrycity.gov.uk/halfmarathon or directly at race HQ in Lisnagelvin Leisure Centre, Richill Park (02871 347695).There is a 1600 individual entry / 100 Relay limit for the popular Waterside Half Marathon, now in its 33rd year, with categories for runners, wheelchairs, 3-person relay and a 2K family fun run. Entries made after the 22nd August will incur a substantial late entry fee for more information go to http://www.derrycity.gov.uk/halfmarathon DD NOTICE: REGISTRATION FOR WATERSIDE HALF MARATHON CLOSES THIS FRIDAY was last modified: August 19th, 2014 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:DD NOTICE: Derry MarathonNoticesParticipantsregistrationSportWatersidelast_img read more

Soapbox debate competition winners to represent Donegal in the National Final

first_imgThe regional final of the Europe Direct Information Centre annual Soapbox Competition was held in the Central Library Letterkenny on November 7.The theme of this year’s debate was ‘Climate change is not my problem’. The Soapbox competition is an annual event hosted by the Europe Direct information Centre Donegal and Gaeltacht based in the Central Library Letterkenny.The centre provides information on the work of the European Union and answers questions for citizens on EU law. There were 19 contestants on the night and each gave a speech for or against the motion. The speeches were marked by a judging panel of Caitlín Uí Chochlainn, Deirdre Hines local author and poet, and Robyn Cleary EU Career Ambassador for LYIT.The winner in the under 18 section was Iseult Ní Mhathúna and the winner in the over 18 section was Mark McDermott who each received an iPad as a prize sponsored by the European Commission.The two winners will both go forward to represent Donegal at the national finals taking place in the Royal College of Physicians on November 20th.Soapbox debate competition winners to represent Donegal in the National Final was last modified: November 19th, 2019 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Building South African brand champions

first_img12 May 2008The “South Africa – Alive will Possibility” campaign continues to evolve as the International Marketing Council of SA (IMC) launches a multifaceted campaign aimed at building South African “brand champions”.The campaign, produced for the IMC by Kaelo Worldwide Media, uses mass media as a tool to educate, stimulate debate and inspire, extended by direct training and engagement in organisations in order to have a powerful influence on behaviour.Inspirational storiesKicking off the media component, inspirational stories highlighting South African people and organisations who are making the country “Alive with Possibility” are being featured during e.tv’s Sunrise Edition for the rest of the year, every Wednesday and Thursday morning at 6.42am.The stories feature the likes of fuel cell “Social Innovator” Rolf Papsdorf, “Trailblazer” Thabang Skwambane, an investment banker who cycled to Kilimanjaro for HIV/Aids orphans, and “Community Builder” Miriam Cele, the founder of the Gozololo Daycare Centre.Alive with Possibility Stories“South Africa needs to build an image of the nation, both within and beyond our borders, that matches its potential to grow,” says Margaret Dingalo, IMC stakeholder relations director.“Through the Brand Champion campaign, we aim to communicate successes to potential brand ambassadors in an engaging way, both through a mass media campaign and through direct training activities.Movement for Good“The campaign is further linked into the recently launched Movement for Good, which offers audiences practical ways to get involved.”In addition to the 90-second inserts broadcast on e.tv, the campaign will include story inserts on community radio, regular national print media features in community papers, a book, and online coverage on SouthAfrica.info, linked to the Movement for Good.“Multimedia content focuses on those who embody the behaviours and attitudes South Africans need to embrace, emphasising that individuals can take action with the rallying cry: ‘It starts with you’,” says Dingalo.Direct trainingThe Brand Champions campaign incorporates a direct training component delivered by specialist training organisation Converse. At corporate staff level, training takes the form of experiential theatre sessions to help staff develop “greater awareness of their own influence, and greater skill and motivation for shaping positive investor/visitor experiences.”At executive level, targeting individuals with a direct influence on foreign direct investment in South Africa, masterclass presentations provide training on “issue management” in order to help drive the reputation of Brand SA.Masterclass presentations are illustrated by real-life case studies, video material and storytelling.According to Converse, training is currently being conducted throughout all levels of government with great success, while the issues management masterclass is being rolled out with leading executives across the country.The multifaceted Brand Champions campaign extends the work already completed for Brand South Africa, and forms part of the Movement for Good, of which the IMC is a founder member.“We are excited about this campaign, particularly as it links into a bigger picture that fuses multimedia communication with direct training and SMS technology,” says Dingalo.“We are adding our voice to the broader Movement for Good, and hope to create a groundswell – connecting and mobilising people to work for good, and bringing their stories into the mass media to further inspire others.”Source: Brand South Africalast_img read more

Injecting confidence in SA

first_imgMinister in the Presidents office Dr. Essop Pahad challenged local media to engage in fact-based journalism. The importance of portraying South Africa and the rest of the continent in a positive light ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup was the focus of the third 2010 National Communications Partnership Conference, recently held in Sandton, Johannesburg.Over 500 delegates attended the two-day meeting on 29 and 30 July 2008, aimed at empowering the media, public relations officers, government communicators and public to use every opportunity to show the world South Africa is ready to host a quality World Cup.When, on 15 May 2004 the 2010 World Cup host country was announced, President Thabo Mbeki promised the world South Africa would host the most successful tournament ever, saying, “We want to stage an event that will send ripples of confidence from Cape to Cairo.“We want to ensure that one day historians will reflect upon the 2010 Fifa World Cup as a moment when Africa stood tall and resolutely turned the tide on centuries of poverty and conflict,” he said.However, getting this message across in the run-up to 2010 is the challenge faced by stakeholders, especially in light of negative publicity on South Africa’s ability to deliver on its promises.The conference hosted speakers from key sectors involved in the organisation of the World Cup, including government, the 2010 local organising committee, police and security, as well as 2006 Fifa World Cup hosts, Germany.Co-chairperson of the National Communication Partnership, Nkwenkwe Nkomo, said the conference enabled African communicators to exchange ideas and practical suggestions on how to project a positive image of Africa to the world, using opportunities presented by the upcoming World Cup.“We wanted to achieve a coherent and action-oriented plan. The conference was also a way to build African solidarity and foster a climate that contributes to African growth and development,” he said.Role of SA mediaThe keynote address, delivered by Minister in The Presidency Dr Essop Pahad, placed emphasis on the responsibility of the local media to ensure the right messages are sent out to international audiences.“We see the hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup as an opportunity to demonstrate to the world the positive socio-economic developments in our country, our region and our continent. We are confident that global perceptions of Africa and South Africa will change in the run-up to 2010,” he said, adding that communicators needed to embark on a large-scale campaign to “highlight and accentuate the positive” without defending the shortcomings in preparations and in meeting deadlines.Pahad also challenged the South African media on the negative World Cup coverage from overseas. “Given the power of the media to shape perceptions we need to ask whether the media in our country has the capacity and independence of mind to question news items about our state of readiness which emanate from Reuters, the BBC and so on.”He tackled what he described as the tendency of South African media to simply perpetuate World Cup pessimism coming from international media. “We are aware that negative stories will, from time to time, emerge in the international media. But the critical question is will the media in South Africa simply parrot those stories or will they be discerning and dig beneath and undertake a critical analysis of what is being said?“This is not by way of saying that the media in South Africa ought not to be critical of shortcomings in our preparations – they must be critical, for in their responsible reporting they assist us as well.”Football’s mega reachChairperson of the local organising committee and owner of Orlando Pirates football club, Dr Irvin Khoza, spoke of the unifying power of football at the conference.Khoza assured delegates that South Africa was going to stage an event that would show the ability of sport to cut through race, class, cultures and language.According to Khoza, there are 1.2-billion people around the world connected to football in some way – from the players on the field, administrators, commentators, sports journalists and the fans. He says the sport has a way of connecting and uniting people, describing it as the “superior reach” of football.Khoza noted that in South Africa the Soweto Derby, an annual clash between two of South Africa’s biggest football teams – Kaiser Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, draws more television audiences than prime time news.He encouraged the media to shape a clear message to the world that South Africa is going to use the unifying power of soccer to stage a memorable event for all.City Press newspaper editor Kathu Mamaila called for the media to exercise responsible journalism. He asked: “What is it about us that we want the world to know and how do we become the information leaders when it comes to telling the world about the process of organising the World Cup?” He also discussed his thoughts on who South Africans are as a peopleMamaila encouraged journalists not to be extremist in their reporting, whether their bent was positive or negative. He said the role of the media was not to take a “see no evil, hear no evil” approach when it came to reporting matters on the World Cup.Echoing minister Pahad’s message, Mamaila said journalists should rather exercise responsible, objective, fact-based journalism. This, he said, could be achieved by reporting on all the shortcomings as they occur, but also by highlighting all the developments taking place.From glum to gleeDr Nikolaus Eberl, of the Nation of Champions initiative, gave delegates a picture of how Germany changed the way the world perceived it, by using powerful messages to tell a different story about the Germans ahead of the 2006 World Cup.“Two years before the World Cup, he said, things were not going well. Germans were described as a collectively depressed people, unemployment figures were at their highest, everything seemed to be going wrong.”His challenge was to find something within Germans that would unite them, cause them to turn their misery around and focus on what it meant to be German, but most importantly, prepare them for a prestigious world event in their home country.Eberl’s solution was to teach Germans that they were worth something. The campaign was called “From grumpy to happy” and images of smiling faces were seen on printed t-shirts worn by Germans during a series of organised outdoor concerts. This campaign presented the opportunity for communicators to convey the message to Germans that they were okay, that they had something to offer the world.Using positive representations was very crucial, Eberl said at the conference. He spoke of the power of the image of former president Nelson Mandela’s image as well as other African icons like Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu, Kenyan Nobel Peace Price winner Wangari Mathai, President Thabo Mbeki and liberation movement stalwarts like Walter Sisulu.Eberl assured South Africa that it had the potential to send across a powerful message of not only South Africa’s but Africa’s readiness to receive the world.His views were echoed by Themba Maseko, CEO of government’s communications arm, GCIS. Maseko addressed the recent xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa and the negative perception of the country.He said it was important for the media to bring across the message that South Africa was ready to receive the world. “Xenophobia undermines the freedom that our fellow Africans will have [when attending the World Cup]. We must rally behind all African teams, as this will be an African World Cup.”He added that it was government’s intention to unite Africans through sport and that the World Cup was the perfect opportunity to do so.Selling Africa to the worldTim Modise, the local organising committee’s chief communications and marketing officer for 2010, pointed out that it’s crucial to highlight that South Africa is also ready to host the Fifa Confederations Cup in 2009.Modise stressed the importance of setting the agenda and using both sport and non-sporting events around the world to market the continent. He gave examples of the World Travel Market, which brings together different countries showcasing what they have to offer, and the 2008 African Cup of Nations held in Ghana earlier in 2008.Peter Mutie, chairperson of the Public Relations Society of Kenya, made the point that Africans should not sit back and be spectators as far as the image of Africa is concerned, but that Africa should use the opportunity afforded to it like the World Cup, to shape the world’s perceptions.Mutie emphasised five points that needed to be highlighted – he said that Africans were vibrant, energetic, capable, warm and the continent was “the place to be”. He said it must be stressed that African governments were committed to political stability, that Africa was competent and that it had the ability to draw people from across the social spectrum.Margaret Dingalo, chair of the marketing and communications cluster in the 2010 National Communication Partnership, made the point that Africa needed to sell as a holistic brand, and be positioned as a world leader. This, Dingalo said, would involve every country on the continent working on its image to show the world its real face.Useful linksThe movement for GoodGCISDr. Nikolaus EberlCity Presslast_img read more