Dec 19

My 2023 Christmas Wish List For South Africa

An Article By Ian Kilbride.

We are all entitled to a wish list at Christmas, so at the end of an eventful 2023, I have compiled my own ‘easy to do’ list for Santa to make South Africa a better place for all in 2024. By the way, I commit to my bit too!

The first is to rekindle the spirit of national unity we celebrated in the early years of democracy and which occasionally resurfaces when our sporting teams perform brilliantly on the world stage. We live on the legacy of Madiba, but it is up to today’s generation to create our own future and a legacy worthy of our children and their families.

The second is to replace national despair with belief and hope. I encounter inspirational people from all walks of life every day, young and old, but equally, I witness those for whom the burden of day-to-day living is just too much. People need to see a brighter future and we all have a responsibility to bring this about.

The third is to tap into and unleash the raw energy, creativity and talent of South Africans to turn around the ailing economy and demonstrate that we can grow sustainably and equitably. We’ve achieved 5% growth per annum before and we can and must do it again.

The fourth wish is to bring down crime in our country and for our communities to live in safety and security, rather than in violence and perennial terror. Our citizens must reclaim their communities, their schools, streets and recreation centres, and yes, the SAPS must do their job!

For the fifth wish, I ask Santa to have a word with government (national, provincial and local) to remind them that they are servants of the people. We the people entrust them with our vote and provide them with a clear mandate to govern well. Yet, with few notable exceptions, this trust is not reciprocated and they are simply not worthy. Perhaps Santa can also remind politicians that they have an opportunity to change their ways in May next year, or face expulsion to the political wilderness.

Six is ‘simply’ for the state sector to start working again. It is one thing for the private sector to step in an assist government where it can, but it is not businesses job to run hospitals, schools, roads and basic infrastructure. The state simply cannot abrogate its responsibilities, otherwise there will be nowhere left for Santa to deliver to. Oh, and can Eskom please keep the lights on over Christmas, so Santa and the reindeers can see where they’re going?

The seventh wish is for the National Prosecuting Authority to do its job and prosecute! For every day that goes by without the Zondo commission corrupters being brought to book, our country loses even more faith in the very institutions designed to bring justice. In this regard, perhaps on his travels Santa could stop by Dubai and pick up the Gupta’s and deliver them to face the country from whom they extracted their billions.

I agree eight is a long shot, even for Santa, but may there emerge a lasting and just peace in the Middle East and in Ukraine. I acknowledge neither is likely in 2024, but one can wish.

Nine is a wish for lower inflation, lower interest rates and less volatile financial markets. Admittedly this wish is close to home for my own work, but I have also witnessed the distress high inflation, high interest rates, the escalating cost of living and volatile markets have wreaked on decent hard working people pensioners in 2023. A little more global economic charity would go a long way in 2024 Santa.

My final wish is for Rassie Erasmus and Siya Kolisi to be made ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary to South Africa to come and teach us all about teamwork, motivation, belief, leadership, determination and humility. Indeed, to summarise their achievements in 2023, and to paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill, “never in the history of sport has a nation owed so much to so few”.

So, as we head into Christmas of 2023, remember we are not just rugby world champions, we can become a winning nation once again! With a little help from Santa of course…