Mayor Tau in CEO Sleepout
Johannesburg Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau will on Thursday night 18 June, swap his mayoral chain for a thin blanket and a cardboard box in icy weather in the rough-and-tumble streets of Johannesburg to gain first-hand experience of homelessness in the city.
The Executive Mayor will be among more than 250 heads of major South African organisations and corporations who will be participating in the inaugural 702-Sun International CEO Sleepout initiative. According to the City of Johannesburg’s Director of Events and Marketing, Bongiwe Mokaba, the Mayor is undeterred by the plummeting temperatures and has confirmed he will spend Thursday night under the stars.
“This is an international event and a first in Africa. So far, at least 250 CEOs of several major corporations in South Africa have confirmed their participation,” Mokaba said.
“These include Executive Mayor Tau; the City’s Chief Operations Officer, Gerald Dumas and the Executive Director of Health, Dr Refik Bismalla,” she said.
According to Mokaba, all the participants will be issued with only a cardboard box and a blanket to help them through the freezing night. They are all expected to sleep on the streets from 6pm on Thursday to 6am on Friday. Participants will each pay R100 000 for the “privilege”, although larger donations are both welcome and encouraged.
The drive is aimed at raising awareness of the global problem of homelessness and raising funds to help combat the scourge. The International Girls and Boys Town organisation is the designated beneficiary of this year’s CEO International Sleepout initiative.
According to Mokaba, Mayor Tau and his senior officials decided to take part in this year’s event to highlight homelessness in Johannesburg, which is in his administration’s sights.
The CEO Sleepout campaign started in Australia 10 years ago. It is now challenging South Africa’s corporate leaders to “look beyond profits” and tackle global problems such as homelessness.