MAILBOX: ‘Methinks the lady doth protest too much’

Steuart Pennington, CEO of South Africa – The Good News, takes Rob Hersov to task for his comments on the ANC government made at the recent BizNews Conference. He claims that public/private partnerships, the private sector engaging with government and building collaboration and trust, is the only way this country has a chance of turning the corner and realising its full potential. But many South Africans have lost patience with years of wholesale lack of governance and looting – and admirable as a small project to help teachers and pupils in the KZN Midlands is – it surely cannot be espoused as a practical way to turn around a government as corrupt as the present ANC. Taking the high ground to complain that Hersov’s comments have broken ‘the delicate process that many of us have engaged in to try and get this country back on its feet’ is attributing a great deal of importance to a noble but ultimately pointless exercise if Pennington hopes to turn around the great ship of ANC corruption with a “trust” exercise. – Sandra Laurence

By Steuart Pennington*

I have listened to Rob Hersov’s talk twice, I’ve known his family for 40 years. Frankly, I think he is doing this country a disservice. But let me start with the points he made that I agree with.

He said he wished to “thank the whistleblowers, the journalists and those of us who are doing the right thing.” Does he seriously think that his talk will open more space for people who are committed to the future of this country? There are 100,000 NGOs and millions of individuals absolutely committed to doing the right thing; to improving health, to improving education, to improving nutrition – the list is endless. We can’t do this by telling government to ‘voetsek’, by telling ministers ‘You’re a cabinet of clowns, corrupt criminals, crooks, idiots and evil gangsters’. It doesn’t work like that, particularly given our dark history, and deep lack of trust, which Rob Hersov’s family empire was part of.

As an example, may I refer to the work I do. For the past four years I have been intensively involved in the process of improving 16 under-resourced schools in the Natal Midlands as functional places of learning. This is a delicate process and requires, whether we like it or not, a deep and respectful level of cooperation with the Department of Education. On a regular basis we have to deal with circuit managers and DoE officialdom. If we want to improve the lives of the 160 teachers and the 12,000 kids who attend these schools it is imperative that we build trust, develop collaboration and get onto the same page as each other. Recently we signed an MOU with the KZN MEC for Education to do just this, get onto the same page, something that would’ve been unheard of 5 years ago. I think there is a general realisation across the country that public/private partnerships, the private sector engaging with government, building collaboration and trust, is the only way this country has a chance of turning the corner and realising its full potential.

Rob telling the ANC to ‘voetsek’ is as insulting as using the ‘k’ word.

Rob accusing the Cabinet of being ‘clowns, corrupt criminals, crooks, idiots and evil gangsters’ is as insulting as using the ‘c’ word.

Rob has contributed to retarding, even breaking, the delicate process that many of us have engaged in to try and get this country back on its feet. He represents the very definition of ‘white privilege’, ‘white saviourism’ and ‘white supremacy’ the very essence and perception of which millions of committed South Africans are trying to change.

Really?

  • Steuart Pennington, CEO, South Africa – The Good News.

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