Herman Singh calls for committed South Africans to share their personal SONAs

Rather than emigrating, South Africans should stay and help build SA's future, says Herman.

I grew up in a world of severe racial discrimination. Everyone around me was racially prejudiced against in every aspect of their lives, including jobs, schools, homes, land, businesses, marriage and so on. Even movement was racially determined. Electricity and other services were rare and both the currency and the economy were in free fall. Violence was ubiquitous. South Africa was a nation in crisis. 

Today we see the severe consequences of economic warfare within government, an alternative form of racial discrimination and atrociously poor policies and leadership. There is exponential crime – both commercial and physical. Social services and infrastructure are being collapsed often by their own beneficiaries. Electricity has become a luxury. Farmers are the victims of horrendous attacks. The economy and currency are in free fall. We are a nation is in crisis. 

There is always a spike in emigration in times of crisis, and so the departure statistics are rising once again. Those that can leave fall into three categories: young and educated, older and wealthy, or professionals with young children. 

Importantly, these leavers have benefited greatly in South Africa from access to education, professional roles or business opportunities in order to build a globally attractive profile. When they leave they take with them all of the investments that South Africa made in them that made them who they are. 

What’s important is to recognise that if our best keep abandoning ship to pursue personal rather than national goals it leaves our millions at risk. In a way, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Although predominantly white, there is now an increasing component of brown emigrants. Even so, less than one percent of South Africa’s population will or are able to emigrate. Yet the debate and mood in the country are often determined by those leaving. A narrative that is highly negative ends up influencing those on the fence to make the leap. I wrote this to provide the counterpoint.

I intend to stay in South Africa to do what I’ve always done – lobby and build capacity for change, set an example to lead others, support my communities, give back and nurture, connect and share ideas to grow the centre, and fight injustice. 

I learnt a powerful lesson under apartheid. Your government does not determine your identity. You do!  

Somewhere on this journey we became less resilient and committed as a people. We used to be tough and stoic. We used to cope with hardship and fight valiantly to get on top of it. We used to be resourceful. 

We did not just accept obstacles meekly. We fought, argued, protested, suffered, pivoted, innovated, bypassed, challenged, questioned, marched...  Our communities connected, united, supported, uplifted, shared, planned and coordinated and grew together.

It’s time to return to our roots. Whatever the challenges are “we shall overcome”. We did not quit. Now we need a #newstruggle, because the government can’t be trusted to fix anything. 

Being a South African is an honour and a privilege. Not a strategic option on a scorecard. I hope to earn that right every day through my actions and words. You should too.  

There is an important role for us to fulfil and that is to be leaders for a new nation here. And to give hope to those that didn’t emigrate. It’s about putting purpose and prosperity above personal profit. 

Fixing South Africa is too important to be left to an increasingly ineffective and conflicted government. This became apparent in the SONA. The address was a wishlist of empty dreams and promises at a time when the country is literally and figuratively burning. 

They ain’t going to fix it. Who will achieve what how and by when? They don’t know. 

So we citizens must rise up and fix it. Let’s stop complaining and whining. Let’s make this our struggle. Let’s start a tsunami of positive energy, affection and united action to wash this bad news away. 

Let’s get this done! So I decided to prepare my SONA of action, not dreams. 

 Here is my SONA: 

  1. I will launch three new business in the next three years to grow the economy faster. 
  2. I will help twenty startups grow faster to build 400 new jobs in the next 12 months.
  3. I will continue to share 2,000 free coaching  lessons a year on social platforms 
  4. I will grow my network to 50,000 conscientious South Africans to unite and align a community of professionals for action 
  5. I will continue to share best practice and call out abuse and gross inefficiency in the business community and government. Including Calling out any public official asking for a bribe. 
  6. I will personally work to raise R1 Billion in foreign investment in this country into private startups and rapidly growing tech firms especially those that optimize service delivery. 
  7. I will share job opportunities to help connect the unemployed to the employed daily. 
  8. I will plough back my returns into helping uplift one large, socially redeeming project in my community every year. 
  9. I will promote South Africa as a business and tourism destination daily. 
  10. I will work to remove all references to race in our daily language in the next five years 
  11. I will offer my services at a tenth of my normal fee to any state enterprise that seeks help with a turnaround. And I will find others to do the same. 
  12. I will actively publish ways that South Africans can unite and act to save our glorious country. 

Let’s collectively drown out the darkness with light. Let’s drown depression with hope.

Let’s act. 

Please share this call to action. And share your personal SONA commitments. We must unite to create an apolitical national movement to take back our destiny.  

Note: I don’t despise those who choose to leave. It’s a personal decision for each of us. This article is written for those who are staying or have not decided.

The views an opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of CFO.co.za or its staff.