South Africans are the worst kind of bipolar sufferers: put some bleeding guy with an oblong-shaped ball on a patch of grass and the entire country clings to one another like chewing gum to an economy-class table. But raise the topics of crime or politics and we’re ready to go to war with one another within the first few phrases of the debate.

Here are three things I think we could all do that would immediately take us forward as a country. They are personal things rather than grandiose political undertakings. We don’t need Helen Zille to make them happen for us. We simply need to make different personal choices.

1. Forgive Jacob Zuma
Everyone is wasting their time lambasting Zuma for his alleged misdeeds. It’s time to face the reality that regardless of what he’s done or presumed to have done he is going to be our president in the next six weeks. Nobody is served by South Africans expending their energy mocking and slating him or by calling for his prosecution.

Yes, he probably did some bad stuff. I don’t think there can be any real doubt about that now, despite the faltering legal process and flurry of media speculation. In fact, I believe the whole of the ANC leadership was duped by sophisticated international arms dealers and that they ALL — Mbeki, Manuel, Mandela included — bungled the arms deal and wasted billions. And were probably enriched in the process. Or, at the very least, allowed their friends to become enriched.

That said, Zuma is no millionaire playboy. Whatever money he allegedly gained from this transaction he’s either hiding in Switzerland for a rainy day, squandered or — as I suspect — amounted to very little.

It’s time to forgive his perceived mistakes and look to the future. He’s already effectively been running the country for the past 6 months and we have been spared fire & brimstone.

2. Stop bad-mouthing the country
Saying negative, depressing, pessimistic stuff about South Africa is of absolutely no help to anyone. It’s a cynical form of entertainment that lubricates the otherwise dull days of middle-class life. It’s so obscenely ingrained in our culture that it’s become a social disease.

No-one is saying there aren’t negatives about South Africa. That tedious straw-man argument must also stop. Take a good look around at the crumbling economies of the First World and tell me where there aren’t bad things happening. Arguably exchange control and the national credit act — so lambasted and whinged about — look like acts of genius in the midst of the credit crunch. South Africans are coming back to SA having lost their jobs in the supposed paradises of Australia and the UK.

Even if you have deep pessimism in your heart — to which you are fully entitled — how about making the choice to shut up about it? Just not spreading that around actually does a lot of good. Stop phoning 702, stop raising the topic at dinner parties, stop relying on how terrible South Africa is as a substitute for meaningful relationships with your friends and family. Just give it a rest and see how much good that actually does yourself and the people in your world.

3. Invest in South Africa
Now is a great time to plough your money into this country. Start a business, build a house and invest locally. The world’s economic institutions are in a state of disrepair. The world’s major capitalist nations are a step away from nationalising their financial service industries. God knows when that will end or get better.

But locally we have a lot to be positive about. We are in a growing economy (yes, more slowly than before, but growing). We have 2010 on the way. We have an internet economy that is still to explode. Kids in townships are surfing the web on mobile phones and Africa is the next big growth point on the planet with emerging demand for services we can provide.

We need not share the pessimism the rest of the world has toward a new government and developing economies in general. Everything points to the fact that economic strength continues to be a key priority for the ANC. Of course we should give more to the poor and of course we should try to eliminate poverty. What kind of sick, twisted policy would try to prevent that. And if a future administration can improve things for the people who need it the most then I’m all in favour of that. And so should we all be.

So spend your money here and contribute to the future that you so desperately want. All the hero-worshipping of other countries needs to be severely checked given the mess they’ve allowed themselves to fall into.

Basically I’m saying this: Get over your crap, South Africa. I’m excited and happy to be here. Come join me in the light.


  • Jarred Cinman is software director at Cambrient, South Africa's leading developer of web applications. He co-founded Johannesburg's first professional web development company and was one of the founders of VWV Interactive, for many years the premier creative web business in the country, winning numerous Loeries and various international awards. In 2001, Jarred co-founded Cambrient, which has, in its six-year history, built the leading local content management system and serviced an impressive list of corporate customers. Cambrient Contentsuite is also the engine behind Moneyweb.


Jarred Cinman

Jarred Cinman is software director at Cambrient, South Africa's leading developer of web applications. He co-founded Johannesburg's first professional web development company and was one of the founders...

Leave a comment