South Africa remains resilient and will continue to rise!


By Thandi Tobias


‘The greatest glory of living, lies not in never falling but rising up every time you fall’ – Former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela


This month, we celebrate Tata Nelson Mandela through acts of service and giving to the less fortunate, a gesture which will live amongst South Africans and the people of this world for years to come. The spirit of Mandela Day is a commitment to serve with humility, honesty, and bravery. Both South Africans and their leadership need to embrace Nelson Mandela’s values. High on the agenda should remain the transformation of South Africa to become a non-racial, non-sexist, and prosperous society. The journey that South Africa has travelled thus far is that of hope. This common goal informs the tapestry of a unique nation of people, who are a resilient people. Our values of ubuntu, makes us strive for a common goal, but it will take each and every one of us to PLAY OUR PART, to be able to fully realise our goals.


Prophets of doom that envisaged a situation that our country will not grow its economy have been proven wrong by the commitments undertaken at the SA Investment Conference for the past four years. Just this week, the first Black Industrialists & Exporters Conference was hosted at the Sandton Convention Centre. In his opening remarks, President Cyril Ramaphosa urged industrialists to reflect on progress made in advancing redress and equity in the South African economy, to expand frontiers of economic transformation.


As part of building and managing the image and reputation of the Nation Brand, Brand South Africa recently released results of a Global Reputation Study, commissioned through Bloom Consulting. The report has acknowledged that indeed we have challenges, but most importantly, it has proven that as a country we continue to perform remarkably well as an investment, tourism, and study destination of choice.  A deeper look into the Bloom Consulting’s Global Reputation Study for South Africa – Brand South Africa



South Africa is like a professional boxer who, by the time she gets to Round six of eight in a match, has taken a lot of punches and seems done but remains on her feet, refusing to be knocked out because she, more than anyone else watching, knows that a lot more is at stake than taking in all the punches that have been thrown at her.  She remains on her feet, because she has not forgotten where she started off – a place she is determined to never return to. She also knows that, should she allow herself to be knocked off her feet, standing up again would be tough but her character, identity and values require it from her. She is not a quitter.


The leadership of this country also get it from all sides. First, from the internal dynamics of the governing party that it leads – it has the responsibility to hold the centre in place. Then, the broader South African society expect it to lead for all, placing the interests of the country and its citizens ahead of anything else. To an increasingly nervous global community of peers, investors and thousands of South Africans who have left the country in search of better lives, in the vast diaspora, but whose hearts remain back in South Africa because that’s what makes them who they are. The country’s leadership also knows that the progressive reform programme it is trying to implement, has the potential that South Africa can still realise for itself to ensure a political and economic progress.



As a nation, our reputation precedes us. South Africans are like no other!  When things get tough, we have always demonstrated amazing goodwill, ability, determination, and dedication to rally together in our indomitable spirit and magnetic diversity, to push back against attempts to further polarise us. This includes how we demonstrated this resolve when we came together in the early 1990s to forge a shared future in which all would have a secure place under the rainbow. We did it again on 27 April 1994 to usher in a peaceful new democracy in the face of naysayers. We did it again when we demanded that former President Gedleyihlekisa J. Zuma be removed at the height of the alleged industrial scale state capture, which triggered the establishment of the Zondo Commission.


More recently, we came together again when marauding mobs of angry and desperate citizens went on the rampage of violent looting sprees in, Kwazulu-Natal and Gauteng. We stood up, cleaned up and started all over again to drive a #protectsouthafrica campaign, through collective efforts as a united force.


The country’s leadership is quite aware that, to outside observers, particularly investors, all these developments paint a negative picture of South Africa. It is clear that it has its work cut out. No one should undermine this country’s resolve to defeat the coronavirus pandemic, accelerate our economic recovery, implement economic reforms to create sustainable jobs and drive inclusive growth. This should explain the decision to refrain from pronouncing on or interfering with processes of the criminal justice system when the former President was found to have broken the law, inside a court of law and jailed.


Similarly, the leadership has to allow proceedings to unfold when the criminal justice system decides to charge and prosecute those suspected of criminal wrongdoing by the Zondo Commission.  It has to continue to walk the tightrope and continue to strengthen South Africa’s institutions for the greater good of the country’s Constitutional democracy.  As things stand, the next general elections in South Africa will be held in 2024, the most important agenda is to continue implementing the now urgent economic recovery plan, guided only by the interests of the country and all its citizens.  Failure is not an option. As citizens it is upon all of us to play our part, participate and challenge decisions through peaceful engagement and continued dialogue, supported by our guiding document which is the Constitution.



This Mandela month, let this be the reminder of our ways, as showcased by our forefathers, who, to this day, are still revered for their determination, resilience, and strong values.  We owe this to our future generations, to continue to protect our image and reputation of a strong cultural heritage that is our foundation.



Ms. Tobias is the former Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Republic of South Africa from 2009 – 2014. She writes in her current capacity as the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees at Brand South Africa.