Aug 22, 2008
Two words every South African should hold dearBack
© Reuse this At the beginning of 2008, South Africa was literally plunged into darkness, when the national electricity utility, Eskom, embarked on massive load-shedding in response to worsening problems on the generation front.
But after reading Don’t Panic! A Book by South Africans, for South Africans, many people about to succumb to the urge to emigrate to the supposedly safe and opportunity-endowed havens of Australia, the UK, the US and Canada will, no doubt, think twice.
The compilation of Don’t Panic! was triggered by an email iBurst MD Alan Knott-Craig – the son and namesake of the outgoing Vodacom CEO – distributed to his staff at the beginning of the year, to reassure them in the face of the prevailing negativity about South Africa.
While admitting that 2008 looked set to be a tough year, he pointed out that this was not the first time there had been doom and gloom. “It happened in 1989, when South Africa defaulted on its inter- national loan repayments; it happened in 1994, when the African National Congress took power and everyone thought war would break out; it happened in 1998, when interest rates hit 25%; and it happened in 2001, when a fairly unstable guy by the name of Osama arranged for two Boeings to fly into the tallest buildings in New York . . .
“Make sure you make a mental note of every- thing that is happening now, because it will happen again and again, and if you don’t recog- nise the symptoms, you will be sucked into the same nega- tivity and forget to look for the opportunities.”
This call to not to despair was picked up by others, who submitted their contributions through the publisher’s blog and by email, with a few sending their comments by SMS. Those who felt the urge to comment included little-known individuals and well-known personalities, such as Didata chairperson Andile Ndcaba (a former director- general of the Department of Communications), talk-show host Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu, Talk Radio 702’s John Robbie, Jewish chief rabbi of South Africa Warren Goldstein and clinical psychologist Dorianne Weil, besides others.
A businessperson who now lives in London complains: “I am an invisible, anonymous person. I have to start from the beginning – just a number in a queue. There is no family history, credit rating, general practi- tioner or greengrocer – it’s hard to start all over again.”
And while the immigrants make new friendships, these miss the ‘remember when?’ aspect.
A contributor who signs off simply as Johann, who has lived in the UK for ten years and is planning to return to South Africa, warns would-be emigrants that the grass appears greener on the other side because they do not have anything to compare South Africa with. He says: “Yes, crime is a problem in South Africa, but don’t think this place is crime free and, of course, over here, we have the extra fear of the suicide bomber on the underground.”
The key message of Don’t Panic! is that, rather than packing our bags and heading for Perth or some such place, we must do something to help resolve South Africa’s problems. As Patrick Smythe counsels, we must take a leaf out of the Zimbabweans’ book. “Many thousands of Zimbos working all over the world remit money every month to create a future for their families left behind. When Bob goes, they will return. Their combined remittance is bigger than the foreign aid donations. They do it because they love their country!”
And we must also love our country.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other News This Week News
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2015: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2015 report provides an overview of the key developments in the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon...
Projects in Progress 2015 - First Edition (PDF Report)
In fact, this edition of Creamer Media’s Projects in Progress 2015 supplement tracks developments taking place under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which has had four bidding rounds. It appears to remain a shining light on the...
Electricity 2015: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2015 report provides an overview of State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, as well as electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
This Week's Magazine
Mercedes-Benz will launch ten plug-in hybrid models by 2017, says the German automaker’s parent company, Daimler. Following the launch of the S 500 plug-in hybrid, March saw the introduction of the C 350 e, the second model to feature the drive-train concept. Under...
Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson's recent unveiling of something of a road map for an upscaled and accelerated deployment of independent power producer (IPP) capacity has been widely welcomed. Besides plans to accelerate and expand the hitherto successful...
South African Airways (SAA) acting CEO Nico Bezuidenhout has firmly denied reports that a stake in the airline was going to be sold to Air China. “Categorically, SAA is not in any talks with any airline to sell itself at the moment,” he stated at a media briefing at...
Russian State-owned nuclear group Rosatom has confirmed that it is in talks with Nigeria about the construction of nuclear power plants (NPPs) in that country, but has denied that any agreement has been signed. This follows a recent report in the Nigerian media that...
Gas products and services company Afrox has launched a pilot programme to deliver its range of Handigas liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to domestic consumers to fill a gap in the market, thereby expanding its direct contact with end-users.