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Let's lease Cape Town Stadium to the U2 economy

By Clem Sunter

Last week I explained the difference between the visible U1 formal economy in South Africa and the invisible U2 informal economy. I stressed that if the country wants create to five million jobs by 2020, most of them would be as a result of allowing entrepreneurs to establish one million new U2 businesses.

The DA has now issued its manifesto stressing the importance of introducing accountability in education and liberating the environment for small business. That could lead South Africa to a level of economic growth – 8% per annum – enjoyed by many other African countries. Hurray for the DA putting a stake in the ground which supports my belief of giving young people entrepreneurial skills and the freedom to do their own thing.

However, I want to test the commitment of the DA to the U2 economy. I want them to do something unusual, something which is in their power to do and something which shifts the national mindset away from the U1 universe and who should own what in it. I want the debate to move on from nationalisation to how we can decentralise and democratise the economy which is far too overcentralised as a consequence of mining being the flywheel for most of the last century. Now is the time to change step and promote other sectors which are conducive to the growth of small enterprise – with the chance that some of these players will blossom and lay the foundations for the nation to become world class in new and unexpected markets.

For me, a flagship event would be to turn the Cape Town World Cup soccer stadium into a permanent market bazaar and hub for small business. At the moment, its future is still uncertain and I have even heard rumours that it could be demolished because of the high maintenance costs. I know that it is used for the odd soccer match and pop concert and there were moves to try and make it the Stormers’ new home. However, it would be much more in the interests of the community to do what I am suggesting and start the process of integrating the U1 and U2 economies in the Western Cape.

Obviously, the architecture of the stadium would have to be modified in order to accommodate vendors and stalls. It would mean removing all the seats and creating levels so that the place becomes a gigantic open-air department store with different floors. The pitch could be used too as a fairground for recreational activities or serve as additional shopping space. The top tiers, with their superb all-round views of Cape Town and Table Mountain, could be reserved for coffee shops and maybe even the odd bistro.

Look, it’s just an idea and specialists in redesigning large structures may rule it out on the grounds of cost or physical impossibility. Rents would have to be reasonable. I just think it is a perfect opportunity for the DA to send out a radical message about the U2 economy. The latter is no longer a side-show but the backbone of future enterprise in this country. They could even change the name to Greenmarket Stadium and link it to the square in central Cape Town. If you have a better suggestion, please post it. U2 can make a contribution to the revolution.

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