Beware the downside of the Springbok Rugby World Cup win

 ·1 Nov 2023

Development Impact Fund CEO Lorenzo Davids says South Africans should be wary of politicians looking to use the much-celebrated victory of the Springboks at the Rugby World Cup to distract from their failures.

Speaking to Newzroom Afrika, Davids said that while he has enormous pride for the Springboks winning the coveted Webb Ellis Cup a record four times, politicians piggybacking off the achievement is a disservice to a South Africa – especially this close to elections.

“The Springboks are an outstanding outfit, but the high from the Rugby World Cup win robs us of the honest conversation we should be having with each other in this country,” he said.

Davids said that a failure at the World Cup might have served the country better, as it would have given South Africans a moment to reflect and ask some “really deep questions about the state of the country”.

Davids explained that the Springboks present a unified nation to many, including the rest of the world, and this ultimately detracts from the fact that South Africa’s government has failed and has not built a successful nation.

Davids further suggested that the government was riding the coattails of the Springboks’ victory and using it to gloss over its glaring failures – including rampant load shedding, wasteful expenditure, collapsing service infrastructure, and unsustainably high unemployment.

This was apparent in the statement delivered to the nation on Monday (30 October), where President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered a “shining” assessment of South Africa and how much the government has accomplished, sandwiched between praise for the Springboks and other sporting teams.

Ramaphosa said it has been under democracy that the Springboks racked up these wins and lifted the coveted Webb Ellis Cup a record four times.

“This Springbok squad is one of the best rugby teams in the history of the sport. But they are far more than that. They are also great ambassadors for our country and for the values that continue to drive our efforts to build a united, more equal and prosperous nation,” he said

“The patriotism we display in sports stadiums should be reflected in our approach to overcoming our challenges. We are all in this together as government, business, labour, civil society and citizens,” added Ramaphosa.

However, Davids said that the patriotism for the Boks was earned by winning – and Ramaphosa must understand that he can’t win over the same patriotism for the government.

“Patriotism is a response to good governance, strategic developments, and to growing the prosperity of a country. It is not an automatic switchover,” he said.

“We have to ensure that our politicians understand that they can’t call us to hope for a better country for the next six bouts of five years (every election) because that’s not hope, that abuse,” said Davids.

“The difference between the Springboks and the South African government is that every four years, the Springboks renew our hope in them. The government does not,” he added.

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