It is time for South African Citizens to unite because we truly are Stronger Together! This is all you need to know about #SACitizensUnite!
South Africa (24 July 2020) – A South African citizen has started a movement with a simple hashtag – #SACitizensUnite.
Mark Sham, the founder of an open-source online education platform called Suits & Sneakers, is using his voice to speak up against the government, corruption and bizarre regulations and inspiring citizens to do the same.
For the longest time, Sham has been unhappy with how the South African government treats all of its people, and he decided to speak up about it. He recently made a Facebook live video that went viral about his frustrations.
“I was angry when I made it, but I stand by what I said. We are in an abusive relationship with the ANC.”
That said, the passionate South African believes that there is a time for anger, and then there is a time to focus on solutions. This is why he created the #SACitizensUnite Facebook page.
“I believe there is power in numbers, and I believe that if we unite, we can work toward practical solutions.”
Dear Mr President
The movement is snowballing with many people joining #SACitizensUnite, but it all started with the video explaining how we are all in an abusive relationship with the ANC, and then followed up with an open letter to the President outlining all the reasons why he believed this to be true.
“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 willing to listen that I believe we are in an abusive relationship with the ANC.
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.”
Sham listed many reasons as to why he believes the current government is a problem:
- 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.
Sham explained that 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 every day, 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?
Sham pointed out that no matter what happens in South Africa, government officials always get their salary at the end of the day. Even during COVID-19.
“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.”
Sham asked very real and relevant questions in the open letter:
- Why can’t we get to the 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 looks after ALL its people and have our best interests at heart?
- Why has it been so hard for our government to focus on creating a stable environment in which businesses, especially small businesses, can thrive?
- Why can’t the government admit they have been in power for 26 years, and yet, by the numbers (and sentiment), we are going backwards?
- Why does the government constantly divide its people against each other by using race, transformation, and the Apartheid card?
There is a time to be angry, and there is a time to act!
One of Sham’s deepest frustrations with most South Africans is that we are largely an apathetic nation. We get angry, we moan, and then we do nothing.
“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 the ANC can 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 to 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!”
Sham believes that things can change for the better!
“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.”
But what is Sham trying to achieve with #SACitizensUnite?
Sham knows that people are angry but wants to help direct that anger toward solutions.
“Besides mass protests, I believe we could come up with small but impactful campaigns where everyone can get involved, and if we get the right numbers, we will be heard.
I also want to use this platform to educate citizens about their rights and remind people that by doing nothing, we are actually complicit in our government’s actions. Ultimately, I want to work toward holding our government accountable for their actions, while backing a legitimate party to lead the country after the next elections.
I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that if we all stick together, and all focus our attention on what we can control, we will be heard. Either way, I can’t just sit around and do nothing. I want to be part of the solution, and I want to use my skills to bring other people along with me.”