From the MD’s Desk

“If #ImStaying Is To Gain Traction, It Must Be Accompanied By A Genuine Commitment To Social Action”

The #ImStaying Facebook group started just over a month ago by real estate entrepreneur, Jarette Petzer, is growing fast – over 821,000 members in such a short time. They have also successfully managed to raise funds during this short stint. The hashtag was started because they wanted to “give hope to despondent locals by posting uplifting messages about South Africa, encouraging them to stay.”

While many South Africans are still digesting its purpose and impact with circumspect, the initiative has clearly struck the right notes with many who are committed to see South Africa thrive. However, supporting social initiatives on social media, however noble the intentions, must translate into a meaningful commitment to proactively supporting social causes to bring about social change, which is what our country desperately needs if it is to grow.

We don’t share a history of collective social action that brings about desired change. In 2017 #ZumaMustFall and student movement #FeesMustFall did see united collective action but not nearly on the scale that we saw in Peru and Hong Kong in recent times – which is what we need.

If we are staying and are committed to South Africa, it should not only be because of the beautiful stories we share or experience but also because we are committed to doing what we can within the limits of our ability to see all our fellow citizens do well. Former president Nelson Mandela said it aptly – “To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

In South Africa 14 million people are food insecure. These vulnerable people do not have any other choice but to stay – and live in abject poverty. According to Stats SA on 29 October 2019, unemployment levels are at its highest in 11 years rising to 29.1% so circumstances are unlikely to get better in the short to medium term. According to the UNICEF 2019 report released in October, too many children and young people are not eating the diet that they need because they can’t afford it.

In response to the rampant food poverty across South Africa, FoodForward SA has pledged to escalate its outreach to vulnerable people and communities. We have a five-year plan to support a network of 2,000 beneficiary organisations serving 1 million people daily using good quality edible surplus food recovered/redirected from the supply chain. Our cost-effective Foodbanking model is able to facilitate the delivery of one meal for only R0,90, placing us in a favourable position to scale at an affordable rate.

Collective social action is imperative so that we work together to change the lives of all South Africans for the better. Benjamin Franklin Gates, the fictional character in the movie National Treasure said that “those who have the ability to take action, have the responsibility to take action.”

South Africa and all its people is worth fighting for. Let our #ImStaying be accompanied by #ImTakingAction.