A flood of yellow and green jerseys pranced through the gallery of the National Parliament chambers in Cape Town Thursday. Children sported gold headbands with South African flags sprouting from the top of the bands as if the flags grew from their scalps.
Below the balcony, on the main floor, there was a mix of suit bottoms and Bafana Bafana jerseys.
Members of Parliament tooted vuvuzela horns and others hugged and greeted each other.
The Parliament of the Republic of South Africa debated the 2010 FIFA World Cup on June 3 in downtown Cape Town.
Some may consider this circus-like foul play for a nation’s government, but with seven days left until the first African FIFA World Cup, politicians couldn’t resist showing their pride.
Butana Komphela, chairman of the parliamentary sports committee, welcomed the world to South Africa.
“With the greatest humility we say to the nations of the world, because you have accepted us you will never forget South Africa,” Komphela said.
Zacumi, the Cup’s mascot, primary school students, South African football representatives and World Cup committee members sat in the chamber’s gallery watching the debate.
Fadwah Pandey, a fifth-grade teacher at Perivale Primary School, said Thursday was a significant day to cheer on Bafana Bafana, the nickname for the South African men’s soccer team, which means “the boys.”
“We have seven days until the World Cup,” Pandey said. “Seven represents luck and surprise, so I brought my students to cheer for Bafana Bafana.”
Many of the assembly members spoke about the skepticism the country received from soccer fans, who doubted the their ability to prepare for the Cup in time.
The country was given a 50 billion Rand budget and a list of tasks to be completed including expanding roads, building stadiums and improving airports by the June 11 opening day for the World Cup.
The country also set aside 8 percent of the budget to avoid inflation cost overruns.
Other assembly members made a point to mention the failure to meet the projections that 450,000 fans would visit the country.
“A question of whether South Africa can be tested to stand its ground is like a kite against the wind,” Komphela said, “And we managed to do that.”