Dear President Cyril Ramaphosa! I’m writing to you for a number of reasons and I hope you eventually see this letter. But I also hope many other South Africans see it too… writes Mark Sham, an entrepreneur and CEO of Suits & Sneakers (which provides informal learning content).

On Tuesday, 14 July 2020, I made a Facebook LIVE video about the frustrations I’m experiencing both in South Africa, and with the political party that you lead. At the time, I was VERY angry and in the video, I told anyone who was willing to listen that I believe we are in an abusive relationship with the ANC. I hope you watch it.

We are in an abusive relationship with the ANC

We are in an abusive relationship with the ANC and it's time we all speak up about it!PS. This was a Facebook live video that I did earlier from my personal profile!

Posted by Mark Sham on Tuesday, July 14, 2020

It’s been three days since I posted this video, and it has gone viral in ways I had never imagined. So many people have commented on the video in agreement, shared the video across their social media platforms, and written to me personally to thank me for saying what they had felt for so long.

Many others have attacked me for standing up and saying what I believe, and I guess that’s ok too. I think of myself as someone that can appreciate different perspectives other than my own. If you look at my responses, I have not attacked one person back. I don’t think that will help the situation at all.

I have calmed down a bit since making the video above, and I have decided that there is a time to be angry, and then there is a time to focus that energy toward action and change. I stand by the things I said in the video above, but I also have a deep longing to be part of the solution, and help others to get involved too!


If for any reason, you don’t watch the video above, then I’d like to highlight some of the reasons why I’m frustrated, and also why I think many other citizens are frustrated too:

  • Our economy has been stagnant for almost a decade according to GDP growth. South Africans are poorer now than they were 10 years ago.
  • The very stats your government provides tells us that crime levels are up in almost every sector including murder, gender based violence, rape, and hijackings.
  • Unemployment has gone from 22% in 2008 to 30% in 2020.
  • Irregular government expenditure was R62bn in the last fiscal year. That’s R11bn up from the year before.
  • Almost all the major SOEs are in financial ruin as per the auditor general report that comes out each year.
  • Load shedding turned 13 years old this year.
  • In 2020, 60% of tax revenue will go toward the salaries of government officials. Up from 47% the year before. Many of these people are unqualified to be in these positions in the first place, and many others have criminal records.
  • More than R700mil has been spent on the Zondo Commission and we don’t have much to show for all that time, money, and effort spent?
  • We spent R10mil on mobile clinics that our own minister of health declared aren’t up to standard and can’t be used. This is a classic proxy for the many other ANC bungles over the years.
  • S&P, Fitch, and Moodys all downgraded South Africa to junk status under the watch of the ANC over the last few years.
  • On this day in 2010, the rand was trading at R7.57 to the dollar. Today we are at R16.67.
  • In 2010, the average petrol price for Unleaded 93 was R8.02. Currently it is R14.83. In June last year, Unleaded cost R16.48 per litre. The price is only lower now because of international oil prices.
  • The ANC has degraded the quality of our formal education system. Think 30% pass rates, and abject standards at schools in rural areas.
  • The numbers tell us just how many skilled workers are leaving or planning to leave South Africa. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that a brain drain is not good for an economy that is already short on skills.

I have to add one additional point in here. One of the main reasons I made this video is because of the sheer number of people on the street begging for money and food. I see it everyday Mr. President, and it breaks my heart. I don’t know if you drive around much, but I wonder if you see all these people who are currently living such difficult lives? Does it not pain you at your core to see this? These people are human beings. They are cold, hungry, desperate, and destitute.


This is just a small snippet of the frustrations, but I’m sure you get the point. As President of our country, I’m sure you know full well about many other problems that we don’t. But these problems impact us ALL in so many ways.

I am a small business owner, and I have started a few businesses that have failed. In the end, I could point fingers to many different factors for my failures, but I learned over time that I was ultimately responsible as the founder, CEO, and shareholder. On that basis, I’m just wondering then:

  • Why can’t we get to a point that we agree that how this country is being run is unacceptable without it turning into a race row?
  • Why can’t we hold government officials accountable for the corruption and looting that is prevalent in South Africa?
  • Is it wrong to want a government that look after ALL its people and have our best interests at heart?
  • Why has it been so hard for our government focus on creating a stable environment in which businesses, especially small businesses, can thrive?
  • Why can’t the government admit the they have been in power for 26 years and yet, by the numbers (and sentiment), we are going backward?
  • Why does the government constantly divide its people against each other by using race, transformation, and the Apartheid card?

There is one other thing I have to mention. No matter what happens in South Africa, government officials always get their salary at the end of the day. Even during COVID. You have a sense of how many people are suffering right now because of this pandemic, but government officials are far removed from this pain because they always get paid.

And no matter what the ANC has done in the last 26 years, your supporters have voted you back into power. I think it’s fair to say that not much changes because there are no consequences to the collective actions of the ANC.


Make no mistake, I am frustrated and so many other citizens are too. But I pride myself on being someone that can express myself, and then get up and do something about the situation I find myself in. I want to be part of a solution. I just don’t know if it’s possible for the ANC to be part of the solution. But I hope I’m wrong. I want to be wrong.

Either way, I’m going to go out on a limb here and try make a difference anyway. Even if I feel little to no hope, I’m going to try. And I’m going to try rally other South Africans to be part of the solution too!

One of my deep frustrations with most of my fellow South Africans, is that we are largely an apathetic nation. We get angry, we moan, and then we do nothing.

With this in mind, I posted a follow-up video on my public Facebook page yesterday, and I called for action. I told people that it’s ok to be angry, but then they have to use that anger to motivate action and change.

Let's focus on solutions that make South Africa better!

I DON'T ONLY WANT TO BE ANGRY, I WANT TO CREATE SOLUTIONS!My video from Tuesday has been viewed almost 200,000 times. There is a time to be angry, but now let's focus on solutions that make South Africa better!Please watch my follow-up video below!THEN…Here is the email address to write to the president: is what I'm going to put in the subject line: #SACitizensUniteI’m going to tell Uncle Cyril why I’m frustrated and then I’m going to ask for change. I hope you do the same.I'll give you more details about the website I'm building ASAP.Please help me share this video!

Posted by Mark Sham on Thursday, July 16, 2020

In this video above, I mentioned that I don’t have all the answers, but I just know we all have to do something rather than nothing. I decided on the spot to create a campaign called #SACitizensUnite. Then I suggested that we all write an email to you via the address, and that we use #SACitizensUnite as our subject line.

Many people called for a tax revolt in the comments section of my videos but I don’t think this is helpful in the long run. South Africa is in a mess already. I believe in creating positive change instead, and so I asked people to write this email to you just like I am right now, and list their pain points to you. And then I asked them to ask you for change. You are the leader of this nation, and the leader of your political party.

It’s not that I think an email will fix things, but I think 50,000 emails might get your attention. In fact, I would love to see 250,000 emails arrive in this inbox in a week.

It’s not that I think an email will fix things, but it will help South Africans practice taking action. And that’s a start. Maybe the media even gets wind of the #SACitizensUnite movement, and we can leverage off them to fuel this conversation.


Mr. President, like I said, I hope you see this letter, and I hope others do too. And I hope this letter inspires others to do something positive. We don’t often realise as citizens how much power we have collectively if we just stand up and do something TOGETHER.

Mr. President, as angry as I was, and still am, I am willing to play my part in making South Africa better, but you and the ANC have to come to the party too.

Unlike the sentiment of others, I believe that things can always change. I’ve seen sports teams come back from the stroke of defeat, I’ve seen miracles happen, and I’ve seen people do things I thought were never possible. I know there is always a chance. But I am also a realist. There’s a lot that has to shift, and our government forms the biggest part of that shift.

Mr. President, and anyone else reading this, I hope you have read this letter in the spirit in which it was written. I hope this letter gets shared far and wide for the right reasons (positive change).

The ball is now in your court Mr. President. The ball is in your court fellow South Africans. Do me a favour, get involved!

Just a normal South African citizen,
Mark Sham

This article first appeared on Suits & Sneakers, and is republished here with Mark Sham’s kind permission.


Mark Sham is a passionate entrepreneur who speaks to audiences around the globe about being better prepared for the future. He also runs a much loved social enterprise called Suits & Sneakers.