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Mayor Tau ready for CEO SleepOut


With snow blanketing many parts of the country, rain coming down in bucket loads and temperatures plummeting to one of their lowest levels this winter, this year’s 702-Sun International CEO SleepOut initiative is most likely to take place under extremely harsh weather conditions.

But Johannesburg Executive Mayor Cllr Parks Tau is determined to leave the comfort and warmth of his own bed to spend a cold and wet night on a piece of cardboard under the Nelson Mandela Bridge in Braamfontein on Thursday July 28 – for a good cause.

The Executive Mayor will be among more than 250 CEOs, business and political leaders, celebrities and other high-profile South Africans who will spend the night under the stars in the second edition of the South African version of the CEO SleepOut. Johannesburg City Manager Trevor Fowler and Chief Operations Officer Gerald Dumas are also billed to take part.

The South African Weather Service expects the “late winter weather system” to be accompanied by strong winds and extreme cold.

Mayor Tau said he was ready for the challenge and to make a difference.

“It is going to be my second year of participation in the CEO SleepOut and I am prepared to brave the cold for a good cause,” Mayor Tau said.
“As a political activist and elected Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, my passion and mandate is to change people's lives for the better, hence my participation in the CEO SleepOut again this year.”

Mayor Tau described his participation in South Africa’s first CEO SleepOut initiative in Sandton last year as “tough”.

“I only had a cardboard and a thin sleeping blanket for the cold night. But it was all worth it.”

Last year the City of Johannesburg donated R300 000 to the Boys and Girls Town. This year it expects to make a similar donation to ASHA Trust, which provides early childhood development support programmes for under-skilled practitioners and owners of home-based crèches in disadvantaged communities. Thandiwe Mphore, the City’s Deputy Director of Events and Marketing, said the reason ASHA Trust was chosen as a beneficiary was because statistics showed that millions of South African children up to the age of four had no access to quality, early childhood care and educational facilities.

She said ASHA aimed to upskill crèche owners and educators to be able to provide stimulating and educational environments and meet the nutritional needs of the children in their care. The trust’s work enables the crèches to comply with standards prescribed by the Department of Social Development to help owners register their early childhood development centres and access social development subsidies.

ASHA Trust Director Deirdre Caulwell said: “More than three million children in vulnerable communities have no access to early childhood development programmes. This puts them at enormous risk and the likelihood of early school drop-out. The cycle of poverty is perpetuated. By focusing on the importance of education in breaking this cycle, the 2016 Sun International CEO SleepOut is addressing homelessness at its very core.”

Last year the CEO SleepOut raised R26-million.

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.