#SACitizensUnite: An open letter to Cyril Ramaphosa from Mark Sham!

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Dear President Cyril Ramaphosa! I’m writing to you for a number of reasons and I hope you eventually see this letter. But I also hope many other South Africans see it too!

On Tuesday, 14 July 2020, I made a Facebook LIVE video about the frustrations I’m experiencing both in South Africa, and with the political party that you lead. At the time, I was VERY angry and in the video, I told anyone who was willing to listen that I believe we are in an abusive relationship with the ANC. I hope you watch it.

It’s been three days since I posted this video, and it has gone viral in ways I had never imagined. So many people have commented on the video in agreement, shared the video across their social media platforms, and written to me personally to thank me for saying what they had felt for so long.

Many others have attacked me for standing up and saying what I believe, and I guess that’s ok too. I think of myself as someone that can appreciate different perspectives other than my own. If you look at my responses, I have not attacked one person back. I don’t think that will help the situation at all.

I have calmed down a bit since making the video above, and I have decided that there is a time to be angry, and then there is a time to focus that energy toward action and change. I stand by the things I said in the video above, but I also have a deep longing to be part of the solution, and help others to get involved too!

IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING WHY THIS VIDEO WENT VIRAL!

If for any reason, you don’t watch the video above, then I’d like to highlight some of the reasons why I’m frustrated, and also why I think many other citizens are frustrated too:

  • Our economy has been stagnant for almost a decade according to GDP growth. South Africans are poorer now than they were 10 years ago.
  • The very stats your government provides tells us that crime levels are up in almost every sector including murder, gender based violence, rape, and hijackings.
  • Unemployment has gone from 22% in 2008 to 30% in 2020.
  • Irregular government expenditure was R62bn in the last fiscal year. That’s R11bn up from the year before.
  • Almost all the major SOEs are in financial ruin as per the auditor general report that comes out each year.
  • Load shedding turned 13 years old this year.
  • In 2020, 60% of tax revenue will go toward the salaries of government officials. Up from 47% the year before. Many of these people are unqualified to be in these positions in the first place, and many others have criminal records.
  • More than R700mil has been spent on the Zondo Commission and we don’t have much to show for all that time, money, and effort spent?
  • We spent R10mil on mobile clinics that our own minister of health declared aren’t up to standard and can’t be used. This is a classic proxy for the many other ANC bungles over the years.
  • S&P, Fitch, and Moodys all downgraded South Africa to junk status under the watch of the ANC over the last few years.
  • On this day in 2010, the rand was trading at R7.57 to the dollar. Today we are at R16.67.
  • In 2010, the average petrol price for Unleaded 93 was R8.02. Currently it is R14.83. In June last year, Unleaded cost R16.48 per litre. The price is only lower now because of international oil prices.
  • The ANC has degraded the quality of our formal education system. Think 30% pass rates, and abject standards at schools in rural areas.
  • The numbers tell us just how many skilled workers are leaving or planning to leave South Africa. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that a brain drain is not good for an economy that is already short on skills.

I have to add one additional point in here. One of the main reasons I made this video is because of the sheer number of people on the street begging for money and food. I see it everyday Mr. President, and it breaks my heart. I don’t know if you drive around much, but I wonder if you see all these people who are currently living such difficult lives? Does it not pain you at your core to see this? These people are human beings. They are cold, hungry, desperate, and destitute.

IS THIS ACCEPTABLE? AND WHO DO WE HOLD ACCOUNTABLE?

This is just a small snippet of the frustrations, but I’m sure you get the point. As President of our country, I’m sure you know full well about many other problems that we don’t. But these problems impact us ALL in so many ways.

I am a small business owner, and I have started a few businesses that have failed. In the end, I could point fingers to many different factors for my failures, but I learned over time that I was ultimately responsible as the founder, CEO, and shareholder. On that basis, I’m just wondering then:

  • Why can’t we get to a point that we agree that how this country is being run is unacceptable without it turning into a race row?
  • Why can’t we hold government officials accountable for the corruption and looting that is prevalent in South Africa?
  • Is it wrong to want a government that look after ALL its people and have our best interests at heart?
  • Why has it been so hard for our government focus on creating a stable environment in which businesses, especially small businesses, can thrive?
  • Why can’t the government admit the they have been in power for 26 years and yet, by the numbers (and sentiment), we are going backward?
  • Why does the government constantly divide its people against each other by using race, transformation, and the Apartheid card?

There is one other thing I have to mention. No matter what happens in South Africa, government officials always get their salary at the end of the day. Even during COVID. You have a sense of how many people are suffering right now because of this pandemic, but government officials are far removed from this pain because they always get paid.

And no matter what the ANC has done in the last 26 years, your supporters have voted you back into power. I think it’s fair to say that not much changes because there are no consequences to the collective actions of the ANC.

THERE IS A TIME TO BE ANGRY, AND THERE IS A TIME TO ACT!

Make no mistake, I am frustrated and so many other citizens are too. But I pride myself on being someone that can express myself, and then get up and do something about the situation I find myself in. I want to be part of a solution. I just don’t know if it’s possible for the ANC to be part of the solution. But I hope I’m wrong. I want to be wrong.

Either way, I’m going to go out on a limb here and try make a difference anyway. Even if I feel little to no hope, I’m going to try. And I’m going to try rally other South Africans to be part of the solution too!

One of my deep frustrations with most of my fellow South Africans, is that we are largely an apathetic nation. We get angry, we moan, and then we do nothing.

With this in mind, I posted a follow-up video on my public Facebook page yesterday, and I called for action. I told people that it’s ok to be angry, but then they have to use that anger to motivate action and change.

In this video above, I mentioned that I don’t have all the answers, but I just know we all have to do something rather than nothing. I decided on the spot to create a campaign called #SACitizensUnite. Then I suggested that we all write an email to you via the presidentrsa@presidency.gov.za address, and that we use #SACitizensUnite as our subject line.

Many people called for a tax revolt in the comments section of my videos but I don’t think this is helpful in the long run. South Africa is in a mess already. I believe in creating positive change instead, and so I asked people to write this email to you just like I am right now, and list their pain points to you. And then I asked them to ask you for change. You are the leader of this nation, and the leader of your political party.

It’s not that I think an email will fix things, but I think 50,000 emails might get your attention. In fact, I would love to see 250,000 emails arrive in this inbox in a week.

It’s not that I think an email will fix things, but it will help South Africans practice taking action. And that’s a start. Maybe the media even gets wind of the #SACitizensUnite movement, and we can leverage off them to fuel this conversation.

DOING SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN DOING NOTHING!

Mr. President, like I said, I hope you see this letter, and I hope others do too. And I hope this letter inspires others to do something positive. We don’t often realise as citizens how much power we have collectively if we just stand up and do something TOGETHER.

Mr. President, as angry as I was, and still am, I am willing to play my part in making South Africa better, but you and the ANC have to come to the party too.

Unlike the sentiment of others, I believe that things can always change. I’ve seen sports teams come back from the stroke of defeat, I’ve seen miracles happen, and I’ve seen people do things I thought were never possible. I know there is always a chance. But I am also a realist. There’s a lot that has to shift, and our government forms the biggest part of that shift.

Mr. President, and anyone else reading this, I hope you have read this letter in the spirit in which it was written. I hope this letter gets shared far and wide for the right reasons (positive change).

The ball is now in your court Mr. President. The ball is in your court fellow South Africans. Do me a favour, get involved!

Just a normal South African citizen,
Mark Sham

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Mark is an entrepreneur, writer and speaker. He is the founder and CEO of Suits & Sneakers and also founder of the Impello incubation hub. Mark loves to travel the world and is hell bent on disrupting education for people of all ages.

38 COMMENTS

  1. Very nice Mark, you have pin pointed the very heart of the matter, but you neglect to mention Farm murders as well. I do not think we even begin to realize the absolute devastating affect this has on our country, now and in the future.

    You are very right by saying the ball is in the ANC’s court, unfortunately I really doubt it if they would rise to the occasion. And I honestly do not think it is their intention to be successful, to change, to better themselves or South Africa, because if they were the least bothered, your letter would never have seen the light. Let’s hope and pray they will proof you wrong, but don’t hold your breath.

  2. Will anything be done? The answer is NO,Cyril and his corrupt comrades don’t give a shit,
    Thier motto is FOLLOW ME I AM RIGHT BEHIND YOU

  3. Very well said👏🏻👏🏻 Agree with everything. Something needs to be done ASAP before we end up like Zimbabwe.

  4. A tax revolt is the only solution Mark. The powers that be will only listen then I’m afraid. But good that you are trying other avenues first
    #taxrevolt

  5. I totally agree with Mark. We feel so hopeless watching our beloved country get ruined by people that hasnt Got a clue to govern and just want to steal. There is trust worthy people our there make use of them before theres nothing left!

  6. I support your letter and have written to Ramaposa.
    If you would like a copy of my letter please let me know your email address

  7. Mr President hang your head in shame. You have the knowledge to turn things around but continue to ignore crime , rapes ,farm mirders. You want to pilfer our pensions to throw at poorly managed state enterprise. You are happy to pay unqualified, old aged cabinet ministers 60% of tax money as hospitals and schools go t o ruin. When will you do your job in the interst of what is best for this country???? Will it be another Zimbabwe?

  8. 100% spot on! Ive been law abiding throughout my life but now like most of South Africa have been turned into a criminal by the irrational new covid “laws”. So you think the rules are stupid and best ignored. Mere suggestions. After all we watch our “leaders” pillage and act above the law so why not the average person? Because it entrenches more wrong. Doesn’t change anything for the better. Least of all the police who will take no notice except to steal from citizens. After all who will you report them to? How about those very manipulated crime stats actually be published daily so there is no time to change them and we can actually see how much real difference the service makes to the people of SA. How about a time limit on goverment panels to achieve the tasks needed. No more delaying tactics. No more employing a buddy to assess the buddies who are bleeding the country dry. How about the Presidency actually responding to emails! Yes I’m angry too and have been sending tweets to them. But as usual they delay and ignore. No response. No concern. No consequence for government. Let us as individuals unite with you to shout louder. To be heard. To no longer be ignored. Thank you for clearly saying what so many feel.

  9. Hi Mark
    Thank you for sharing and venting!
    I have travelled and lived in Europe, but nothing beats living the life in SA. It pains me that due to dire straits in our country, that I have consented for my only daughter of 8yrs
    to move to the Netherlands with her father. For many reasons: safety, education, job opportunities, earning a different currency other than the rand…
    I am at a quandary, as I love living in Cape Town, but am also considering leaving at some point. I am lucky that I have an EU passport, but in hindsight I really don’t want to have to leave! 😞

  10. Well said we are very sorry we had to leave SA after 30years not a day goes by that we do not miss it and it’s people black and white we could cry for the people that have been left out of living a better life because of greedy politicians and people in government grabbing everything. A heat broken English / South African

  11. Mark. We all agree with what you are saying. The country is fucked. Everyone who has a way with words are out there and stating the obvious. We are apathetic (and thanks for explaining the meaning to us). I don’t have the answers, do you? I can add hundreds of reasons why the country is fucked as you call it but whats the sense because even those that have the balls or energy to make videos like yours are stuffing off to London. How apathetic is that? (shall i explain the meaning to you). I cant believe the following you got on your video because its no different to all the other blah blah we’ve heard from others. South African citizens are not as stupid as you may believe and give us some credit for intelligence. Unless you can actually sit down and make some reachable proposals taking into account who would be putting these proposals in place you might as well open another business. I was one of those who in my youth was sent to go fight the Swart Gevaar as it was called. What was the end result? Have you ever watched a strong healthy locust attacked by a swarm of ants? I wont insult your intelligence with a answer as to who won. Unless you have a more solid answer other than for us all to bitch on social media you are wasting our time and yours. I don’t know maybe this is how you make your living?
    I personally think that you should leave for London on the first flight out and start a business there. You might find it a bit more difficult because i believe the place is already swamped by South Africans.
    Best Wishes

    Max Rennie

    • Max I think you should also leave for London.In your mind you have already written off SA.
      What’s the point in sticking around if you’re desperately unhappy?
      I’m told Perth is also very popular.

  12. I support collective civil awareness for a better working and representative leadership for our country.
    I offer a visual banner to bring citizens under a common ideal. To whom can I send such an idea for consideration ?
    Thanks
    Tobie

  13. My family emigrated to S A from the UK many years ago – worked hard to build a home for our family. The years have rolled by and now retired and living on a limited income after having to retire early due to having to undergo treatment for cancer. The whole government should hang their heads in shame when you experience what has .happened to this once beautiful country. People used to queue to vote – now they queue for food!!! The hungry are plentiful while the fat cats do nothing – just full of empty promises. I urge this government to respond urgently to halt the situation getting more out of hand.

  14. So well done Mark. Your power to galvanize people lies in the fact that you are just an ordinary South African citizen and not a politician. We can relate to you, and seeing an ‘ordinary’ man stand up and speak out, gets us out of our stupor of accepting the unacceptable. #SACitizensUnite

  15. Hi Mark, Thank you for both of you inspiring videos, I share your frustration, I’m a white pensioner living in this once beautiful country, and sadly I’ve The Association of National Corruption (ANC) in 26 years destroy and financially Bruin ‘‘tis country to the point that we are now on our knees fighting to stay alive. I to have written to the President numerous times with not one reply… it’s like Simon & Garfunkel said “ The Sounds of Silence”
    is deafening.

  16. Dear Mark. Well said.
    Unfortunately, you are preaching to the converted. These words will never reach Ramaphosa’s ears. I do not feel hopeful for our future. All the best to you.

  17. Dear Mark
    I hope you read this reply to your open letter to our Prez.
    You make some good points and I hope the Prez takes cognisance.
    However, your letter lacks perspective.
    We cannot discount the past.
    No matter how much you wish to focus on the future, the legacy of our colonial and apartheid past still haunts millions who, together with their forebearers, have little accumulated wealth and lack the antecedent skills that are passed from one generation to another.
    This continued for approximately a century while most whites benefitted from racist policies that gave them an unfair advantage while indigenous black people were treated as second class citizens.Much of the economy and infrastructure then and now is built on the backs of cheap black labour, of which today they are still not equal equity partners.
    We are economically the most divided nation in the world.The United Nations (UN) has an index whereby the discrepancy between the rich and poor in a country is measured.This Gini index places South Africa at number one.
    Approximately 10% of South Africans, mostly white, own between 60-70% of SA’s wealth.
    The following statistics are a damning testimony of how skewed income levels are.
    In 1996 the average income per black household was approximately R25 000 per annum.For whites it was R125 000.
    By 2016 the average income for black people had grown to R125 000 and that of whites to a massive R625 000 (Source : IHS Insight SA)
    -Haroon Bhorat, Prof in Economics and Director of Policy Research Unit, UCT.
    An average black person survives on approximately $5 per day.
    Whites represent 4,6 million (approximately 8,9%) of our total population yet own in excess of 60% of SA’s wealth.
    Whites are not suffering to the extent that blacks are and to deny this makes it difficult to have an informed discussion on our current situation and the future.
    We are an imbalanced society and government has a responsibility to narrow the historical gap between the haves and the have not’s.
    To argue that all South Africans suffer if the economy suffers can be likened to the current #blacklivesmatter (BLM) debate.
    We have to acknowledge that specifically black people have been denied much and still have great disadvantages that hold them back.
    We whites cannot expect to continue with our disproportionate standard of living without making the necessary sacrifices.The Davis Tax Commission has started a debate on imposing a wealth tax of sorts and recently Prof Pierre de Vos has proposed a tax on Estates, in addition to duties.
    Ineptitude and incompetent government officials should not be tolerated and the ANC together with their alliance partners have a responsibility towards all South Africans to root out corruption.
    So, with due regard to our past and present challenges we must encourage structural reforms to our economy and societal inequalities that persist.
    Yours sincerely
    Charl Adams

  18. Well done Mark. I am hoping that your videos motivated 1000’s of other people the way they motivated me. I feel strongly about this subject as I came from Zimababwe (rather Rhodesia) and we have all watched as that beautiful country went to ruins. Mostly because the people who kept the economy alive left, and through, like us, government management. I have lost my home and my job through covid and the poor economy, like so many others out there, but i see it in a positive light and for me it’s time for change. So yes, Let’s make a difference, let’s be heard, let’s work to be proud people seen as one stable nation.

  19. I feel exactly the same…I soooo want 🇿🇦 to be the best place it can be for everybody. I want it to be well managed by the “elect Elite”, to the benefit of every single South African, to stop lying to us, to correct mistakes, to honour the “So help me God”-vow….we dont have time or money any more to waste on nothing!

  20. I can not understand the mind set of a government / political party, that can sit and look at the complete mess around them and not admit that they have stuffed up everything that they have touched. EVERYTHING!!!. You cannot correct a wrong until you admit that something is wrong.
    Wake up you idiots or get the hell out of there before its too late.
    Remember that once you have taken every thing from that that have something, you are going to have to come up with something yourself.
    Based on your history this means the end of the road for every body. Get out the way and let people you want this country to prosper have a chance.

  21. I cry often for South Africa I cry and I pray for change. I searched the president’s email address two days ago; I wrote two articles on my blog, and the most recent one was a plea to see the people not as statistics, but as people, in the light of Ubuntu. My focus is less on the economy and yet it’s all the same sad and heart wrenching experience, whenever I see our people confused, stuck, helpless, and reduced to serving the system, being the broken system that they voted to get away from. Hope and love, understanding and forgiveness are all waiting for them when they speak the truth, reconciliation.

    We all make mistakes, but this is becoming a joke, it’s so obvious, so in your face, I can’t stand scrolling through the archives, the statistics, 12 million children in the foster system. The rate of recidivism, is deeply disturbing, violent crimes have made SA the rape capital of the world. It cannot continue and I am so willing to help, give them direction, anything. I am even willing to give my life if it would help, so the black people can finally forgive us for our forefathers mistakes, a redemption, but it is no use; so I write, I research and I cry.

    Cheers for starting something which I am sure, will have an impact. Every little success, is a success, each step we take is a step, just as long as it has direction. I am with you, I want to be the change we wish to see in the world!

  22. Wonderful! I’m a nearly 70yr old widow and can’t actually do much(have oesteoporosis) do the laundry for the family(6people) and I LOVE what you have said! I hope something will be done!

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