I received a deeply disturbing call last week from a friend of more than 20 years. He and his family are leaving the country, prepared to emigrate to literally anywhere in the world that will take them. This a family whose ancestors have never lived anywhere else apart from South Africa.
It is not difficult to understand the logic behind decisions of this nature. Even if we ignore the economic effects of this global pandemic called Covid-19, the South African economy has to also withstand the apparent disregard for those basic fundamentals that one would assume form the basis of a properly governed country. A duly elected and constituted government works for the people, all the people, to ensure that a country delivers the best possible economic conditions so that its citizens can live and thrive in relative security.
There are many examples of failed governments, failed democracies, failed monarchies, but that does not mean that South Africa has to be one of them. This last week has again seen an outpouring of emotion that leads to death and destruction. The main highways of the Western Cape became impassable at times as land invasions on a mass scale turned violent when the security forces intervened. I am not saying for one minute that land invasions should be allowed, and when they occur they have to be stopped, but the root of the problem lies with the government. You cannot promise housing for all for more than 26 years and expect people to merely accept non-delivery. The government would do well to remember the English proverb: you reap what you sow.
The provision of housing does however require funding being made available from the government coffers. In a pre-Covid, growing South African economy the money should have been available. I say should because it is not there. I pause here to acknowledge our current leader, President Ramaphosa, who I submit is working tirelessly under very difficult circumstances, within an Executive that may not fully support him, or certainly don’t all appear to when viewed from the outside.
From the perspective of the average person, how does it make any sense to ban the sale of tobacco products, and continue to do so, when it is obvious that the illicit trade in cigarettes has merely stepped in to fill the gap? Take this further and consider that these illegal tobacco products are being brought across our borders, also illegally. The banning of a legitimate business has caused a proliferation of crime in two other respects. How does this make sense?
We need to arrest the wholescale theft by people in power, of money that should be directed to the provision of housing, education, and health care. We need to work within our communities to resolve our problems at local level. We must recognise that rioting and destruction of property are unlikely to change the ability of the government to provide additional resources. They frankly do not have the money, because of the widespread corruption in the higher echelons of power. I dare say that President Ramaphosa now needs our support, more than ever before, to root out corruption at all levels of government.
We call on our President to do the right thing; to get rid of those elements that have forgotten that political governance is not about enriching yourself but rather about serving the people that elected you. Mr President, you have a large support base across South Africa. Please, have the courage to do that which is truly in the best interest of South Africa and know that it will increase the support of your citizens. Use consultants that do not have vested interests, accept that politicians with personal agendas should be removed from power and, above all else, trust the process. Trust that South Africans genuinely love their country, and want to thrive in this country, and do not want to leave for so-called greener pastures.
In closing, allow me to express my sincere thanks to the many of you that have sent me personal messages relating to my executive appointment to Fine & Country South Africa. I assure you that I will, however, always be local, and dedicated to encouraging South Africans to stand together to ensure that our country returns to a position of economic growth, coupled with the peace and unity that has been evidenced on numerous joyous occasions.
The views expressed above are those of the writer in his personal capacity and may not necessarily reflect the views of Fine & Country as a national and international brand.