This is the 2nd e-mail that I've received on the state of South Africa, as with the other e-mails I've reproduced this is as it was received, apparently authored by the CEO of Dimension Data (http://www.dimensiondata.com/za) from here on in referred to as Mr CEO, the copy of the mail I received had no address history to provide confirmation of the fact that is was sent from Dimension Data or any clues to the name of the author – the current CEO of Dimension Data is Brett William Dawson, but without more proof that this was actually written by him we'll call the author Mr CEO.
Clearly Mr CEO is being motivational, he somewhat successfully dovetails his piece with that of Mr Alan Knot-Craig, now if this was indeed written by a corporate leader, I feel justified in criticising the piece as naïve and many of the arguments will not stand up to being scrutinised. The mantra of “Head up, chest out, walk with a spring in your step and be Proudly South African.” is a positive one, but Mr CEO the next time one of your projects runs over time and over budget remember... “Head up, chest out, walk with a spring in your step and be Proudly South African.”
Nevertheless thank you for taking the time to compile such a good hearted motivational message and I'm sure that is the spirit that most South Africans will have read it in.
Thank you for your effort Mr CEO.
DIMENSION DATA CEO MESSAGE
This past weekend I have had the opportunity to think a bit about the country in which we live. My thinking was prompted not only by the State of the Nation Address delivered on Friday by President Thabo Mbeki, but also by the media discussions on the 'state of the country' and the numerous comments I have heard in passing.
Much of the recent kitchen and corridor talk that I hear, and I will admit have been part of, has been focused on the country and its ailments. Who would have thought so many hours of conversation could be dedicated to the new phenomenon that is affectionately known as load shedding. We all need to stop for a minute and take stock as we are talking ourselves into, to quote Shakespeare, "a winter of discontent" for no logical or rational reason.
Putting aside my bias due to the fact that I was born in South Africa and I live here, I honestly believe that South Africa is easily the greatest country in the world. And, I would very happily bet that there are 48 million other South Africans, and many millions of non-South Africans, who heartily agree with me. We all know the obvious things that make this country great, and perhaps we take them for granted and should appreciate them more: great weather, beautiful countryside, interesting mix of cultures, world's most progressive Constitution, best wine in the world (every year SA wins international awards), biltong, nik naks, rainbow people, Kruger Park, Nelson Mandela, South African flag, Mrs Balls Chutney and the greatest number of public holidays.
Not much to moan about on that list. However, I think that if each of us is honest with ourselves we perhaps have been moaning a bit lately. And as much as I can list all the fantastic things about this fantastic country I know I will always hear a "but what about...?"
So, I am going to tackle the most common "but what about...?", from a logical, rational and emotional perspective. Alan Knott-Craig (iburst CEO not Vodacom CEO) recently sent an email to his team with the sentiment that no where in the world beats South Africa and whatever hardships, irritations and inconveniences that are thrown at South Africans they are ready for them and emerge stronger and better. This is very true. But, as in every thriving democracy there will be a "but what about." Here goes.
But what about..the political situation? When people say "but what about the political situation", we all know that what people are really saying is "what about Zuma being elected as ANC President and Mbeki being the President of the country and what about all the alleged charges against Zuma"? This what I say about it.
The ANC election held in Polokwane in December 2007 is evidence that democracy is alive and well. Zuma was voted by a majority to be the leader of the party. This process of voting for leaders of political parties happens the world over - and the person who gets the majority of votes becomes the leader. This should be celebrated - this is a foundation of democracy.
The ANC is the ruling party and have a huge majority - this can not be disputed. There is consensus that the ANC will continue to govern the country for the foreseeable future given the percentage of votes received at the last election.
The principles of the ANC have not changed, and their conference theme "Building a caring society: Advance in unity towards 2012" is one that all South Africans can unite behind and I am in agreement with.
And the alleged charges against Zuma? This is why we have a justice system. Accusations and allegations against political figures are not new, and they are not unique to South Africa. They have happened before and will happen again. They happen in America, in The United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia - just about everywhere. Democracies have justice systems that provide a forum to determine a person's guilt or innocence in relation to allegations.
The South African constitution decrees justice for all as a basic right, and the adherence to the principles of our constitution will ensure that anyone accused of wrong doing has a platform to defend themselves. This is how it is. Whether the allegations are true or false justice will prevail. This is the basis of our constitution.
Life continues, wheels keep on turning, government will continue to make decisions, the country will continue to progress, media will continue to report on facts, hearsay and rumour, and Trevor Manuel will present the budget speech.
Head up, chest out, walk with a spring in your step and be Proudly South African -democracy is alive and well in our country.
But what about..load shedding? Load shedding. This is a relatively new word to my lexicon and I am sure many other people's. When I did a google search for load shedding, the first three pages (30 items) were all about South Africa and Eskom. I don't suppose you are surprised about this. We have all been inconvenienced by load shedding, and the fact of the matter is that we will all continue to be inconvenienced by load shedding. However, I know that in true South Africa spirit we will adapt and adjust our lives accordingly because that is our nature.
In the State of the Nation address, Mbeki said "Among other things, we must use the current adversity to ensure that our homes and economy become more energy efficient. There are concrete actions each individual, household and
business can take."
If we are honest with ourselves, we can all reduce the amount of electricity we use - by doing just little things. Electricity in South Africa is the cheapest in the world, and perhaps we have become a bit too flamboyant with using it. Yes, electricity prices have gone up, but it is still the cheapest.
Electricity usage and telecommunications are often used as indicators of economic prosperity and growth. Usage of both these 'utilities' is growing significantly in South Africa. In fact, in the past 10 years, more than 70% of the population who previously had no access to electricity now has access. This is clearly a sign that the country is in good shape economically.
I am pleased that Dimension Data is doing their bit to reduce the pressure on the power grid. The light sensors that have been installed at The Campus are making massive power savings in fact we are saving 85% on our electrical consumption for lighting each month (614 MWh). This saving has knock on benefits which means 780,000 litres of water is saved per month, 300 tons of coal is not used and 550 tons of CO2 is not emitted.
Light saving is just one area where we can each do our bit. When at home let's turn off the lights we don't use. This small action, multiplied by 3000 (Dimension Data employees in South Africa) equates to huge savings. Government is committed to "ensure efficient lighting, solar water heating and geyser load management in households, including housing standards in all new houses and developments." Government is also urging "households that can afford to act immediately to consider implementing these energy saving
Head up, chest out, walk with a spring in your step and be Proudly South African - we can all contribute with a little effort and have a great
But what about...crime? Crime is an issue, and there can be no denying that. It is highly probable that we know someone, or know someone who knows someone who has been a victim of crime. I believe that it is universally agreed, although the universal agreement may have been a long time in coming, that the crime issue in South Africa needs to be actively and aggressively addressed.
We are often caught up in the dramatic and horrific stories of crime that travel the corridors as they affect us personally. We are stunned by the stories and feel anger, fear and frustration. And rightly so.
Government is instigating a set of changes that will establish "a new, modernized, efficient and transformed criminal justice system. Among other things, this will entail setting up a new co-ordinating and management structure for a system at every level, from national to local, bringing together the judiciary and magistracy, the policy, prosecutors, correctional services and the Legal Aid Board, as well as other interventions, including the empowerment of the Community Police Forums."
By actively participating in community initiatives and local policing forums we can all do our bit. Dimension Data has joined the Bryanston community forum and is working with local policing forums, together with other businesses based in the area, to actively provide input and suggestions for a safety in the community.
Government has stated their "absolute commitment to fight organised crime and improve the management, efficiency and co-ordination of our law-enforcement agencies."
"Of great importance, our success in the fight against crime depends on co-operation among all of us as law-abiding citizens, inspired by the principles of rule of law, respect for our judiciary and pursuit of equal human rights, which our Constitution enjoins us to observe in our daily lives and pronouncements."
Head up, chest out, walk with a spring in your step and be Proudly South African - we can all make a difference.
But what about.. What is your but what about...? What is the topic that perhaps your perspective is skewed. Let me know, and I will give you an alternative perspective. You know my email - just press reply.
South Africa is great. I am proudly South African. My corridor, kitchen and dinner table talk is now focused on what is great. I am not going to ignore or pretend that there are no problems. But I am a South African, there are 48 million more of me, and I know that we will face every challenge, every hill and every mountain that is placed before us with a smile and come up with a solution.
Mbeki closed the State of the Nation Address with the following words: "I am certain that South Africans are capable and geared to meet the challenge of history - to strain every sinew of our being - to respond to the national challenges of the day, including those relating to our economy, the political and economic situation in Africa and elsewhere in the world, and seize the opportunities that our country's progress over the last fourteen years has provided."
Head up, chest out, walk with a spring in your step and be Proudly South African.