SOUTH Africans should let go of the idea of another messiah or Mandela, but rather build on the social capital of our country.
This was the frank message guest speaker Ruda Landman gave to Eastern Cape representatives of the SA Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC) yesterday.
Landman is best known for the almost two decades she was a co-anchor of M-Net’s Carte Blanche, and since leaving the programme seven years ago, she has worked as freelance presenter, researcher, writer and lecturer.
Her presentation, “The changing landscape in SA and how business needs to adapt”, provided much food for thought to the retailers who attended SACSC’s Eastern Cape chapter.
Landman quoted poet Bertolt Brecht, “Unhappy is the land that needs a hero”, and said South Africans needed to let go of the idea of waiting for another messiah or Mandela and deal with the fact that Nelson Mandela was gone.
The only way to do this was by building on the social capital of the country ourselves and realising “we are here to stay and make it work”.
She said it had been more important for people than for business to adapt to South Africa’s changing landscape in the past five years, particularly with business confidence declining.
Landman defined the years between 2000 and 2006 as years of delivery of services of all kinds – from infrastructure and houses through to poverty alleviation in the form of grants.
But after the recession and under the current political leadership, the narrative from 2008 had changed to “everything is falling apart, rumours of imminent collapse and we are going nowhere”.
It was important to change this mindset and also notice some of the positives in our country, Landman said. “The ceiling has been lifted. Twenty years ago there were not as many possibilities as there are today.”
She referred to the numbers of black graduates in engineering, computer sciences and law and how race-unconscious particularly the youth had become.
To address the difficulties in the country, for instance that 66% of people were still living in poverty, Landman said it was everyone’s task to build South Africa’s social capital.
Ways of achieving this social capital included “to commit to the whole …and let go of us and them, reach out beyond our obvious circle and to make ideas happen”.
Landman said one should never underestimate the huge difference a shopping mall could make to a community.
She encouraged retailers to reach out to the communities around their shopping centres with acts of philanthropy – Cindy Preller