South African President Jacob Zuma says the country’s hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup is generating high levels of patriotism and national pride.

The President was speaking on the occasion of The Presidency budget vote in Parliament in Cape Town this week.

“Domestically, the World Cup is generating high levels of patriotism and national pride. Our colourful flag is more visible at this time than ever before,” he said.

The South African government has been tracking international public opinion of South Africa and the World Cup since 2007 in order to use the World Cup to market South Africa and to improve international perceptions.

“Tracking has taken place in 29 countries across 7 regions. Findings reveal that the successful hosting of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup played a significant role in changing people’s minds, especially outside Africa.

More people believe that South Africa will host an exciting and memorable event.

Internationally, over 65 percent recall information on the World Cup as positive. Among South African respondents this increases to 85 percent,” Zuma said.

Zuma said the World Cup fever was gaining momentum in South Africa and urged citizens to showcase the country’s warmth and hospitality.

“We must showcase our South African-ness and fly the flag with pride. We are happy that thousands of our people are already doing so. Let us show true South African hospitality and be courteous, helpful and very welcoming to our guests,” he said.

The South African government has invited the African continent’s Heads of State in an effort to position the tournament as an African World Cup.

“We have said continuously that this is an African World Cup. Consequently, I have invited all Heads of State in the continent to join us for the opening and closing matches. Let us make African teams and African soccer fans feel welcome and supported on African soil, said the President.

President Zuma also used the occasion to extent gratitude to former South African Presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.

“Honourable Members, allow me to express the nation’s gratitude to our two former Presidents for their sterling contribution to the World Cup project - Isithwalandwe President Nelson Mandela and former President Thabo Mbeki,” he said.