Why I think the CEO sleep out misses the point — completely.


It’s time for the infernal CEO Sleep Out.

It’s the time that CEO’s cause the Nelson Mandela Bridge to be closed and have a sleep out in sponsored sleeping bags, wearing scarves and warm jackets drinking hot coffee and soup, under the guise of building empathy with the homeless they are protected from all night by armed security.

Yes they do collect money, a lot of money that gets directed to charities that work with the homeless and the sleeping bags are reused by the homeless. That’s good, in a way. It makes you feel like a saviour, so it's good for you.


Today on Frankly Speaking on Cliff Central I was asked for my view of this as an event. Please go listen to the podcast.

The CEO sleep out is a mockery of the homeless. To even pretend this experience is anything like an experience of homelessness is laughable. The gimmick is there to build the ego and reputation of the participants (and appease their conscience) in the adventure of their alternative fundraising dinner and not to do anything significant about the homeless at all.(Apparently, 21% of South Africans are not able to eat every day).

The problem in South Africa as so succinctly pointed out by Steven Friedman in his B.Day article today where he discusses the IMF deputy MD David Lipton’s talk. The reason why the South African economy is so weak is that we exclude one-third of our working population from it.

“The private sector — supported by government regulation — has been supported in ways that create privileged markets working against the interests of consumers”.

As Friedman says

“So, the core of his message is that growth is blocked not because the well-off are hampered, but because too many people are locked out of the economy by all the key economic actors — business, labour and government.”

Simply much of the problem is going to be sitting on that bridge, It really isn’t about whether one homeless person or a hundred benefit by getting a free sleeping bag. It is that the CEO’s should rather be looking at how access to the economy is created, how the homeless and other South African’s achieve economic freedom. Maybe someone will look up from their coffee and talk about that.

This sleep out has been going for years — how much of it has actually turned into anything significant? But much of it is in the hands of those people sleeping on that bloody bridge

I hope it bloody rains…