Should there have been more Business Leadership on Mourning Madiba?

Many shops will be closed on Sunday, when Nelson Mandela is laid to rest. Some will stay open. PicknPay will donate its profits to charity. Some opened, others didn’t, on Tuesday when the Mandela memorial service took place. ZA Confidential has been asking whether government or organised business should have taken more of a lead in orchestrating the closures? What do our experts make of it all?

Professor Raymond Parsons from BUSA:
My personal view is that this sad but truly remarkable moment in South Africa’s history has been more than adequately recognized by the country in general and by business in particular during this highly emotional period. It created an all too rare opportunity for organised business, through the AHI, BUSA, BBC and BLSA, to cooperate by arranging a joint memorial service to collectively recognize and salute the enormous contribution which Nelson Mandela made to stability and progress in the early years of democracy in SA. It nonetheless is not possible in these unusual circumstances to impose monolithic arrangements on everyone. Given the fact that the events have been spread over several days, it is inevitable that stakeholders like business will also want chose when and how to tangibly do justice to the tremendous debt they owe to Madiba. This includes the widespread commitment by many individual businesses to shut down this coming Sunday for the funeral, which is unprecedented in the business history of SA.

Massmart’s Grant Pattison:
I suppose the government could have declared a national holiday, but that doesn’t preclude businesses from opening on a holiday. Business is precluding from working together on co-ordinated behaviour by the Competition Act. I think leading businesses have led by making their decisions to close public.

Mario Pretorius from Telemasters:
The Memorial event seemed to have been pitched primarily at the international audience. No mourners bussed in from faraway places, no speeches at community centres by every cabinet minister, nor a national holiday called. Perhaps the lacklustre planning is indicative of a loss of contact between the servants in government and their masters in the electorate. The tin ears of e-toll and other foibles deemed co-ordination unnecessary.

Conclusion:
The passing of Madiba had been long expected, and there was plenty of time to plan. Maybe one lasting way of paying tribute will be by having an annual day of remembrance –with commercial closure. No new holiday would be needed; an existing one could be re-named. One final thought is that those with the power such as government and the Mandela family may not have had enough respect nor compassion for the ordinary people. Take the example of the citizens wishing to pay tribute to Madiba as he lies in State. Why on earth was there not 24-hour a day access, as there would have been elsewhere in the world? Failure to provide enough time for the millions who did not get to say their last farewell to Mandela will not be easily forgotten.

Tweets of the Day:
Jay (@jaymeisterrr): ‘I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU JUST SAID.’ ~ me, lying to an Australian

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