Special phase-in dispensation


Given that the Main Agreement was last gazette and extended in 2010 and many employers have been operating outside the terms and conditions of the Main Agreement – particularly when it comes to rates of pay – the signatories to 2021/ 2024 Main Agreement agreed it would not be feasible or practical to expect these employers to come on board overnight.

Hence, it was agreed that a phased approach would be needed and that this process would form part of a broader project aimed at eventually achieving parity with the Main Agreement. Phase one of the project establishes the target of reaching 60% of the 2020 minimum rates of pay by 30 June 2024.

For purposes of illustration, below is the 2020 general wage table and the target of 60% to be reached by 30 June 2024.



Minimum Wage Rates as at 1 July 2020 60% of 2020 Minimum Wage Structure


84,75 50,85

AA (6)



AA (start) 77,18






70,53 42,32
C 67,96



66,58 39,95




DDD 59,10


E 56,47


F 54,10


G 51,65


H 49,55


The same principle applies across all the main agreement wage tables (i.e., electric cable; structural engineering; five grade; vehicle drivers; gate and fence manufacturing – but excluding apprentices and construction sites covered by a project labour agreement).

In broad terms, the special phase-in license of exemption will stipulate that notwithstanding that an employer is paying below 60% of the 2020 rates (as per the table above), leave pay and leave enhancement pay must be calculated on the 60% rate as set out above.

Employers operating in terms of a special phase-in license of exemption paying less than 60% of the 2020 wage rates will be required to implement the 1 July 2023 wage increases as a Rand/ cents increase on what workers are actually earning.

Employers paying above 60% but less than 100% of the 2020 rates, operating in terms of a special phase-in license of exemption, will be required to award the 1 July 2023 wage increases as a Rand/cents increase on what workers are actually earning and calculate leave pay and leave enhancement pay on workers actual rates of pay.

In light of the above, the MEIBC National Exemptions Policy has been amended by way of the insertion of a new section dealing with Phase-In Exemption.

This new clause, referencing the Special Phase-In Exemption, is available to all employers covered by the scope of application of the Main Agreement, regardless of whether or not they are members of a party or non-party employer organization.

The next round of industry increases will become applicable on 1 July 2023 and will again, be awarded on a Rand/cent basis.

Any employer wishing to apply for an exemption from these increases is at liberty to do so on or before 31 July 2023.

Should you require any assistance in applying for a Special Phase-in Exemption or any other matter covered by the Main Agreement, please contact the SEIFSA Office at (011) 298-9400 and ask for Vuyiswa, Michael, Monica, or Lucio - we will be more than happy to assist.

If you would like to find out a little bit more about the benefits of joining an Association federated with SEIFSA fill in the membership form, or send us an email at nuraan@seifsa.co.za

Next week I will address the elephant in the room, R78 per hour, watch this space!

Lucio Trentini

SEIFSA Chief Executive Officer           


Over 200 Stakeholders Will Be Attending The Metals And Engineering Indaba On 12-13 September 2019.


More than 200 stakeholders with an interest in the welfare of the Metals and Engineering Sector in particular and Manufactuing in general will be attending the Fifth Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba (M&E Indaba) in Sandton, Johannesburg on 12-13 September 2019.

Will you be the only one missing out? Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to make your voice heard as South Africa grapples with various economic and political challenges. Don’t wonder what happened. Be there to make yourself heard and to watch it all unfold.

The M&E Indaba offers all stakeholders – business executives and captains of industry, policy makers and Government Ministers, as well labour leaders – a vital opportunity to discuss matters of common interest calmly, robustly and yet constructively in order to improve the performance of our sector and to revive economy.

Speakers include, among impressive others:

  • Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel;
  • Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan;
  • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research CEO Dr Thulani Dlamini;
  • BRICS Business Council Chairperson Busi Mabuza;
  • Africa House Director Duncan Bonnett;
  • Department of Trade and Industry Chief Director for Africa Multilareral Economic Relations Wamkele Mene;
  • NUMSA General Secretary Irvin Jim and Solidarity General Secretary Gideon du Plessis;
  • Manufacturing Circle Chairperson Ayanda Mngad; and
  • National Association of Automotive Components and Allied Manufacturers Renai Moothilal.

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Be part of the search for a solution to South Africa’s manufacturing challenges. You are not as powerless or helpless as you may believe. Unfortunately, challenges do not yet have the ability to resolve themselves. That is why we have to work together to resolve them. Make your voice heard. Engage. Contribute. Innovate. Sustain. Register for the Fifth Indaba, where matters of concern to you and all of us will be discussed. Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to be heard.

Register now on www.meindaba.co.za, where you will also find the detailed conference programme. Key Government, business (including some of your customers) and labour leaders will be there. Don’t be the only one missing out. I look forward to seeing you at the conference at the Fifth M&E Indaba at the IDC Conference Centre on Thursday, 12 September 2019 as one of the more than 200 sufficiently concerned stakeholders.

Yours Sincerely
Signed electronically
Kaizer M. Nyatsumba
Chief Executive Officer

The Government and Law-Enforcement Agencies Should Protect Business from Local Thugs

The new tendency of pseudo-entrepreneurs demanding a stake in public tenders won by companies poses a serious threat to the country and its economy, argues Kaizer Nyatsumba.

A society’s descent into lawlessness does not happen overnight. It takes place over a number of months and years, often indirectly encouraged by authorities’ failure to take decisive, punitive action against those committing various criminal acts. Inevitably, a society whose leaders tolerate – or conveniently turn a blind eye to – any form of criminality or malfeasance deteriorates over time into a state of utter anarchy.

South Africa is not there yet, but it could easily get there if the situation is not arrested speedily.

Until recently, far too many people in this country got away with so much. As has become evident from the various commissions of enquiry currently taking place in the country, many among our political leaders and those connected or close to them have committed many vile deeds with absolute impunity. They have looted with gay abandon and lived well beyond their legal means. They have turned public office and entities into their own private fiefdoms and milked them dry.

Among the consequences, as we have witnessed in recent days, has been the rolling load shedding that has been visited upon us by Eskom and firmly consigned us to the status of a backward, third-world country. However, perhaps the most insidious consequence of the general criminality by some political mandarins has been the unwitting setting, for the ordinary citizen, of an example that it is fine – if not commendable – to cut corners, to steal and generally to break the law. After all, if putative leaders can shamelessly engage in such activities and get away with it, then, the logic will go, it must similarly be fine for ordinary citizens to do the same.

South Africa desperately needs an urgent, sustained crackdown on all forms of crime, from the most heinous to the apparently benign. That crackdown should focus as much on those in the private sector and ordinary individuals, as it should on those in the private sector. We need a sustained effort aimed at inculcating a new culture of zero tolerance for crime.

While we welcome the good work done by the various commissions of enquiry established by President Cyril Ramaphosa, we wait with bated breath to see if widespread arrests, prosecutions and convictions – especially of prominent, high-profile individuals – will follow suit. Were that to happen consistently, it would go a long way towards sending a powerful message to all and sundry not only that corruption will not be tolerated during the era of “a new dawn”, such as it is, but also that the commission of crime will inevitably lead to dire consequences for those involved.

Precisely because of the kind of example that has been set by South Africa’s political leaders and some of their reckless pronouncements on the economy, in recent years the business community has been on the receiving end of a sustained campaign to harass and intimidate it. A new breed of opportunists – some of whom call themselves entrepreneurs – has sprung up in different parts of the country to target the business community.

Routinely, they target various companies that have won tenders from the public sector and demand 30% sub-contracting of the said business to them. They unleash violence to take over construction sites and to prevent any work from taking place, unless the companies thus victimised yielded to their vile blackmail. Often, this is in addition to members of the local communities demanding to be prioritised for employment on those projects, even if they may not have the requisite skill, experience or expertise.

This terrible culture is fast spreading to different parts of the country, in the process posing a serious threat to investment. Some companies are known to have packed up their bags and walked away from tenders that they had won, while others have even reconsidered their investments in South Africa – at a time when the country desperately requires investment to grow the economy and create jobs.

Among the companies that have been terribly affected by this scourge of lawlessness have been members of employer associations affiliated to the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA). Many of them have laid charges against those involved in such acts of criminality and even obtained court interdicts, all to no avail. Others, on their own or in partnership with SEIFSA, have registered their concerns with the various provincial governments and some national Cabinet Ministers.

Regrettably, none of these efforts has so far yielded positive results. Precisely because of the aforementioned culture of impunity and the general inefficiency of our police service, the thugs – who often appear to be politically connected – have continued to harass, victimize and generally terrorize the business community. In a country in which “demand” is possibly the most popular word, where everybody – including students, local communities and workers – demands something from somebody else, often the Government, these pseudo-entrepreneurs have also continued to demand, shamelessly, 30% of the value of won business opportunities.

We are not talking here about people who have sought to negotiate black economic empowerment partnerships with companies winning public tenders, or who could add some value to the companies thus cornered. Instead, these are men and women who are eager to muscle in because they can – and know that there is a high probability (if not certainty) that they will get away with it.

We in the metals and engineering sector join other sectors of the economy to call on government and the country’s law-enforcement agencies to move swiftly to bring an end to these horrible acts of intimidation, violence and economic sabotage. We fully support and champion transformation, but will have no truck with economic terrorism.

Although we have previously raised our concerns on this matter in meetings with the relevant stakeholders, including with President Ramaphosa and his Ministers during the last CEO Initiative gathering at the Union Buildings in September last year, we have not yet witnessed any change for the better. If anything, we have seen these acts of criminality spreading to other parts of the country and affecting even more of our members.

In the interest not only of our sector or the business community, but also of South Africa itself, we call on President Ramaphosa and all tiers of government to condemn this new tendency equivocally and to urge compatriots to desist therefrom, and we call on the SAPS and other law-enforcement agencies to do their work.

Kaizer M. Nyatsumba is the Chief Executive Officer of the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA).

Voting is Your Right and Responsibility – Kaizer Nyatsumba

Next month, South Africans above the age of 18 will be heading for the polls. Confronting them will be a crucial decision about the country’s future, specifically the next five years.

The question confronting all of us, then, will be: whom can we trust to offer South Africa the kind of ethical, visionary and inspirational leadership that will take the country out of the morass in which it currently finds itself and bring out the very best in us as a people?

There is definitely no shortage of candidates. With each election since the dawn of our democracy in 1994, more new political parties spring up as vehicles to enable their founders to occupy cushy seats in the country’s national and/or provincial legislatures. My guess is that, even as they are conceived of by their respective founders, very rarely – if ever – are they regarded as instruments to help steer the country in the right direction. Very rarely are they formed out of a need to steer our country back onto the right path from which it has been derailed over the years.

Often, however, they are merely extensions of their founders’ egos and vehicles to enable them to enter – or stay in – politics to be able to feed from the public trough. Political parties have mushroomed as individuals have fallen out with their original parties or their comrades within those parties, and those men and women have then found themselves in need of new political vehicles to enable them to remain on the public payroll.

Thus were various political parties formed: Bantu Holomisa’s United Democratic Front and Mosioua Lekota’s Congress of the People from the ANC; Themba Godi’s African People’s Convention from the Pan Africanist Congress; Zanele Magwaza-Msibi’s National Freedom Party from the Inkatha Freedom Party; Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Front from the ANC; and, more recently, Patricia De Lille’s Good from the Democratic Alliance.

There have been some exceptions, with the main one having been the attempt in 2013 by Mamphela Ramphele to form the now-laughable Agang, out of a desire to re-direct the country back to the path chosen for it by our founding fathers and mothers during the multi-party talks at the Congress for a Democratic South Africa and the subsequent Constituent Assembly that finalized our world-acclaimed Constitution.

As a people, then, we are not without a choice on 8 May 2019. While none of the parties or their leaders is perfect, nevertheless it remains crucially important that South Africans go out in their numbers to vote during our sixth all-inclusive elections. For me, who or what they vote for is immaterial, as long as they exercise their fundamental right to vote.

Regrettably, there are those who, out of disillusionment with politics and politicians, have decided that participating in the elections is a waste of their precious time because it makes no real difference. All politicians, they argue, are the same: they make lots and lots of great promises but, once elected, proceed deliberately to ignore those promises to the electorate and to do what they would like to do anyway – and that, most of the time, is to mess up, plunder and steal and advance their own selfish interests instead of those of the nation.

While that disillusionment is understandable, nevertheless the decision to opt out of politics and, in the process, forego one’s right to vote is grossly irresponsible. It is laziness of the worst kind on the part of those compatriots who may be so inclined. They forget that, even if they did not exercise their right to vote, once elected, our bent politicians go out to do what they do – whether that be lying and stealing – in the collective name of “the people”. Included in “the people” are those who, myopically, may have taken a decision not to vote at all as a sign of protest against our rotten politics and its practitioners.

Our disillusioned compatriots ignore – at their peril – the simple but truthful fact that, in a democracy such as ours, it is during a time like now, when elections are around the corner, when even the simplest or poorest of voters is at his or her most powerful. It is now, in the run-up to an election, when even the most arrogant and obnoxious politician has to humble him/herself and come crawling to beg for our votes. It is now that the pendulum swings decidedly against the rich, proud, smug or vulgar politician in favour of the poor voter who, in reality, is the real repository of power.

While they may strut around proudly and make all sorts of claims about enjoying mixing with the people, the truth is that politicians do not enjoy the period that we have now entered, when they have to humble themselves and travel to every nook and cranny of the country to shake hands with our poorest compatriots, to smile and sing as they promise heaven on earth. They do not enjoy having to take trains, buses, go to taxi ranks and be exposed to some of the dirtiest streets in our townships and informal settlements to beg for votes in return for their parties’ T-shirts and sundry paraphernalia and empty promises. Nothing reminds them so strongly of the fact that the power they exercise after an election has its origin from ordinary South Africans.

Therefore, there is no time when the ordinary man and woman in the country is as powerful as now. During this period, suddenly politicians remember even those squalid parts of the country that they only ever hear about in the media once they are comfortably ensconced in office after an election.

While the decision whether or not to vote is for each person to make, I would urge every compatriot strongly to go out on 8 May to vote their conscience. I urge every South African to go out to send a strong message to our political mandarins that we, the ordinary men and women that we are, want our country back from those who have dared to steal from it, to abuse it in different ways or even to pawn it to the highest bidder/s. I ask that all South Africans go out to vote for the party or parties of their choice and, in the process, remind politicians that none of them has a God-given right to govern this country.

Regrettably, our choices continue to be confined to political parties as opposed to individuals, thanks to what was supposed to be a limited-duration deal that was struck

during the pre-1994 negotiations at the World Trade Centre. As a result, many of us will find ourselves having to block our noses to prevent the stench emanating from objectionable names of crooked, unethical or downright corrupt individuals on the lists of some of the parties for which we may find ourselves voting on 8 May. It is precisely because it has served the parties well that we continue to have this obnoxious system in place, when we should long have had a system by now that combines both constituency representation and proportional representation.

One is encouraged by the fact that there is, on the court roll somewhere in the country, a case seeking to assert our rights as citizens to vote for men and women of our choice, who will stand as individual candidates and represent specific constituencies, as opposed to voting – as we now do – for political parties, with absolutely no say in who they include on their precious lists. It is crucially important that civil society – through organisations like the Helen Suzman Foundation, Freedom Under Law, the Council for the Advancement of the Constitution, etc. – take this fight up in our country’s courts after the forthcoming elections to re-assert our rights to vote for men and women of our choice, rather than parties which, once elected, have little or absolutely no obeisance to the electorate.

Were we sufficiently respected, as citizens, to vote directly for the President of the country, as opposed to leaving this important responsibility to political parties to choose one of their own in Parliament to become our Head of State, the choice confronting us on 8 May would be much easier. Many among us would find it easy to vote for Cyril Ramaphosa as President, without simultaneously feeling guilty that our vote for him, through his party, will also be a vote for men and women of questionable integrity on his party’s lists.

That shortcoming notwithstanding, it remains very important for all adult compatriots to go out to vote with their minds – and not their hearts – on 8 May. We should do so with a view to producing whatever we may consider the best possible outcome for the country and its nine provinces. For me, such an outcome will be one in which no party ever feels entitled to govern, or feels that it can take the electorate for granted because, regardless of its performance while in office, it can always be assured of victory at the next polls.

In addition to their own responsibility to go out to vote on election day, business leaders must also encourage their employees to do so, and ensure that they have ample time to do so.

Let us go out and re-shape South Africa’s fate on 8 May and take responsibility for our actions and decisions, and refrain from for ever bleating afterwards – as is typical of South Africans – as though collectively we are powerless as a people. The power resides firmly in our hands. Let us use it on 8 May and make ourselves unmistakably heard. Only then will politicians ever take us seriously.

Kaizer M. Nyatsumba

Chief Executive Officer

From the Chief Executive Officer’s Desk - May to June 2018

Act. Act now.

So goes the cacophonous chorus of exhortations to President Cyril Ramaphosa, as the scandal-weary public and the general commentariat clamour impatiently for a series of decisive actions to undo the deleterious legacy of the Zuma era. The President finds himself routinely called upon to do so much within such a short period, if only to demonstrate that he is fully in charge of our country’s affairs and that there is, indeed, “a new dawn” afoot.

Understandably, given the despicable era from which we have just emerged and the continuing arrogance of those who had grown accustomed to acting with impunity, Ramaphosa has routinely been called upon to execute one miracle after another within the blink of an eye. Such calls for him to take various forms of decisive action against certain individuals who have been fingered for all types of malfeasance have grown to a crescendo in recent weeks, and many within the ranks of the opposition parties have begun to dismiss the euphoria – called “Ramaphoria” – that greeted his election first as ANC president and then as our Head of State as having been misplaced.

First he was expected to recall his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, from Government immediately after his election as ANC president. When this did not happen right away, Ramaphosa was soon dismissed – wrongly – as having been timid and impotent. Then he was called upon to dismiss South African Revenue Service Commissioner Tom Moyane, without due process, and to move swiftly against the allegedly spineless National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams, before the Constitutional Court’s pronouncement on the latter’s appeal against the December ruling by the full bench of the North Gauteng High Court that his appointment was invalid.

Some have also harshly criticised the President for his retention in his Cabinet of inefficient, scandal-prone individuals as Ministers. The names of two ladies – one of them the President of the ANC Women’s League – immediately come to mind in this regard.

In recent weeks, Ramaphosa has come under excoriating criticism for his failure to date to recall controversial and scandal-dogged North-West Premier Supra Mahumapelo. Some have used very colourful language, describing Mahumapelo’s continued premiership in that province as an indication – some say a confirmation – of Ramaphosa’s alleged timidity. Critics point out, not with justification, that the President’s early return from the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting in London in April when protests spun out of control in the North-West had created the impression that he would immediately ensure Mahumapelo dismissed as Premier.

The clamour for speedy, decisive action by Ramaphosa and his Government and the ANC leadership is both legitimate and entirely understandable, given the depths to which we had sunk as a country during the Zuma presidency. It is, indeed, crucial that everything possible is done to undo the mess that came to characterise the Zuma era and to eradicate the widespread culture of corruption which had come to be so deeply rooted.

However, it has to be borne in mind that President Ramaphosa is no magician. He has no magic wand that he can wave and, abracadabra, our problems are a thing of the past. We need to keep in mind not only that, given his slim electoral majority at the ANC’s 54th national conference in Nasrec in December, he cannot afford to be seen to be embarking on a witch-hunt against those who were opposed to his rise to the presidency. It is in his and the ANC’s best interest for him to do everything possible to weld the disparate factions within the organisation together ahead of next year’s important national elections.

More importantly, the President must be seen to be following due process. The abovementioned individuals and those of their ilk must been seen to have had their day in a disciplinary hearing or a court of law and to have been found guilty of the charges against them.

Such processes take time – and they are not within Ramaphosa’s control. He simply cannot afford to be seen to have been too gung-ho to take action prematurely against certain individuals, only to have these actions subsequently questioned, criticised or, worse still, reversed by a court of law.

Only a president with a political death wish would succumb to the deafening public calls for him to act – and act now – against individuals against whom serious allegations have been made, without following due process. As far as I can tell, Ramaphosa is not such a man.

Therefore, South Africans will have to learn to be a little more patient. We have no choice but to give processes such as the disciplinary hearing against Mr Moyane, the Constitutional Court in the case of Advocate Abrahams, the ANC’s National Executive Committee in the case of Mahumapelo, the Commission into State Capture in the case of many others, etc., an opportunity to run their course. I am certain that, when presented with guilty rulings against these individuals, President Ramaphosa will move swiftly to do what needs to be done, comfortable in the knowledge that there will no comebacks.

Until then, South Africans have a responsibility to furnish whatever information that may be in their position to the Commission into State Capture and other similar structures to enable them to do their work successfully. Hanging onto information that would help the Commission to do its work is tantamount to sabotaging Ramaphosa’s commendable efforts to wean our beautiful country off the staple diet of corruption.

For its part, the business community must reach out to the President and the Government and partner with them in their efforts to rehabilitate South Africa Inc. in the global community of nations. It must be exemplary in its observance of the country’s laws and outspoken in its efforts to lobby for policies that will result in inclusive economic growth.

Kaizer M. Nyatsumba

Chief Executive Officer

From the Chief Executive Officer’s Desk - March to April 2018

For reasons that that have to do with our past, the relationship between business and government in South Africa has taken different forms over the past few years. Following the dawn of democracy in 1994, the relationship between the two stakeholder groups has broadly taken at least three forms.

During the Mandela years, business was an enthusiastic partner which was immensely relieved that the country had made a peaceful transition from a period when South Africa was ostracized as an international pariah that had to contend with punitive economic sanctions to a democratic era. Generally, therefore, business fell all over itself to work with the Mandela government in an effort to redress some of the wrongs of the past. All Madiba had to do was to pick up the phone and dial the numbers of captains of industry of the time to get significant contributions made or pledged towards the construction of schools or clinics, for instance.

During the Thabo Mbeki presidency, strains appeared for the first time in that relationship. This followed the Mbeki government’s emphasis on transformation in general and black economic empowerment in particular, and on the adoption of a strong African – as opposed to rainbowish – identity for the country. That was the era when the first version of the Mining Charter was concluded and when various high-profile BEE transactions were concluded.

However, even as he came down hard on business when it came to transformation, nevertheless President Mbeki appreciated the strategic importance of business when it came to job creation and economic growth and surrounded himself with some of the wisest businessmen and women who served as his economic advisers.

During the Zuma presidency, a serious disconnect between business and government occurred for a variety of reasons, among them open hostility from the governing party towards business and the former’s poor management of the economy. In word and deed, business – like educated black compatriots who were labelled as “clever blacks” – was positively considered an enemy, with greater emphasis placed on the public sector, particularly State-owned companies, as strategic levers to deliver on job creation and, subsequently, on the need to create black industrialists.

It is during the Zuma presidency that organized black business walked out of Business Unity South Africa, which was formed during the Mbeki era, to form the Black Business Council.

Generally, then, business’s relationship with government evolved as follows over the years, with the former:

  • Being fervent proponents, beneficiaries and enforcers of apartheid;
  • struggling through the lean years of economic sanctions in the late 1980s, during which some – like Anglo American – began to review some of their policies and American companies operating in South Africa were forced by the Sullivan Principles to embrace and even nurture black talent;
  • falling in love with the “rainbow nation” dispensation of Nelson Mandela and the opportunities that it heralded for it, with most of the established big companies enthusiastically partnering with Madiba in their corporate social investment initiatives;
  • accepting the imperative of economic transformation by implementing BEE policies and concluding some high-profile BEE transactions during the Mbeki presidency; and
  • being sidelined and becoming disillusioned with the Zuma administration and, consequently, taking the foot off the transformation pedal.

The five eras described above show that the Zuma era was very much an aberration. Throughout the period outlined above, business was acknowledged as a strategic stakeholder not only with a responsibility to obey the country’s laws, such as they were, but also with rights to articulate its own concerns to the powers that be. That much was acknowledged by the PW Botha, FW de Klerk, Nelson Mandela and Mbeki governments.

It was only during the Zuma years that business – especially “white business” – was myopically considered to be an enemy to be starved of oxygen. “White monopoly capital” was to be crushed.

Notwithstanding the unfortunate experience of the past nine years, business remains a legitimate – and strategic – stakeholder without which South Africa would not realize its true economic potential. After all, it is business that creates jobs, pays corporate taxes from the profits that it generates and employs men and women who go on to be taxpayers. The Government’s role in the economy is to create a climate conducive to growth, ensure policy certainty and coherence, and sell the country abroad as an attractive investment destination.

Therefore, even in present-day South Africa where significant portions of business are not as transformed as they should be, business has every right to make its voice heard on matters of importance to it and to lobby – transparently and not through backhanders and other such fraudulent inducements – for policies that it deems to be in business’s interests.

Perhaps more importantly, business needs to engage in a meaningful partnership with the elected government and to temper its own interests with those of the country. For instance, while some myopic business leaders may not fully appreciate the need for transformation, it is fundamentally in the country’s – and, by extension, their own – best interests that thorough-going economic transformation occurs expeditiously.

Therefore, while it is well within its right to advocate for certain policies that it considers necessary for growth, nevertheless business remains obliged to respect and observe all the country’s laws, and not only those with which it agrees.  The extent to which business can be taken seriously and, therefore, have a higher degree of success with its lobbying activities depends very much on its perceived legitimacy.

Business’s collective social and political legitimacy will be considerably enhanced by the degree to which it embraces transformation, removes vestiges of racism that may remain hidden in its crevices and works with the elected government to combat corruption – including collusion – within its ranks. To this end, the CEO Initiative was a powerful example of the kind of meaningful partnership that is required between business and government.

As a corporate citizen, business has every right to make its voice heard on important matters of the day – especially on policy incoherence, destructive policies, corruption and poor governance – that will have negative economic and social consequences for the country. Like civil society, business needs to remain alert at all times, regardless of the government or individual in power at a given moment.

However, in so doing, business will be well advised to avoid falling into the trap of backing one or the other faction within the governing party or one party versus others in our body politic. As a collective, business must be above the political fray and stand only for principles, and not for individuals or parties.

Kaizer M. Nyatsumba

Chief Executive Officer

From the Chief Executive Officer’s Desk - January to February 2018

Here we are, at the beginning of 2018, with so much promise in the air. After eight lost years of the Jacob Zuma presidency, finally it seems that the country is on the verge of solid leadership and economic stability.

In years to come, the election of Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa as the 13th president of the governing African National Congress (ANC) in its 106-year history may be seen to have been a major turning point in our fortunes as a country. Unlike his predecessor – who is likely to have been ejected from office by the time this issue of SEIFSA News is published – Ramaphosa can legitimately be described as a man of integrity who works hard and leads by example.

Uniquely among his fellow contestants for the position of ANC president ahead of the organisation’s 54th national conference in Johannesburg, Ramaphosa combines experience and expertise in labour, business and government. He has a firm grasp of how the economy works and knows and appreciates the fact that it is business that creates jobs, and not governments, and that South Africa is involved in a never-ending competition for foreign investment with many other countries around the world.

He enjoys widespread respect both here and abroad, and has served on the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Company’s International Board of Advisers, among other senior positions. Among his many achievements, his co-architecture, along with Roelf Meyer and others, of South African’s Interim Constitution during the multi-party talks in the Convention for a Democractic South Africa (CODESA) and of the current Constitution that was subsequently adopted by the National Assembly in 1996 must rank among the highest.

Following his election as ANC president in December, Ramaphosa now stands a good chance of becoming South Africa’s next Head of State, should the organisation win in the forthcoming national elections next year. Among the seven  individuals who contested the ANC presidency, he it was who stood the best chance by far of stanching the organisation’s recent haemorrhaging of votes. While in recent years and months it looked like South Africa was heading for an opposition-led coalition government next year, Ramaphosa’s election may well see the ANC narrowly winning the 2019 elections.

Were he to emerge as South Africa’s President next year or sooner, Ramaphosa will have accomplished his long-held dream – which, in subsequent years, even he would have begun to think unattainable – and the ambition that democratic South Africa’s Founding Father, Nelson Mandela, had for him.  After all, it was Ramaphosa that Mandela wanted to appoint Deputy President of the country when the latter became our Head of State in 1994, but he was strongly prevailed upon by those in the ANC who had been in exile to go with Thabo Mbeki, instead.

Cyril Ramaphosa, then, is a man in whom the saintly Madiba had lots of confidence.

His final election as ANC president has marked the end of a terrible chapter in our democratic era and the beginning of a new one. Unlike his predecessor, he is a constitutionalist who is actively championing good governance and a meaningful partnership involving the Government, business and labour. An astute businessman, he has placed a deserved emphasis on growing and transforming our economy.

Immediately after Ramaphosa’s election as ANC president, many commentators expressed legitimate concerns about the composition of the leadership surrounding him in the ANC top six. Some of the individuals surrounding him are not exactly known for their shining credentials as anti-corruption crusaders, and some have featured prominently in the recent Gupta-leak e-mails. They are, therefore, unlikely to share his enthusiasm to throw the book at those allegedly behind our rampant corruption.

I argued elsewhere at the time that, while legitimate, those concerns should not be exaggerated. I pointed out that the ANC leadership is made up of more than just the five men and one woman at the apex of the organisation. It also comprises the 80-member National Executive Committee (NEC), which is the highest decision-making body between conferences. I added that there are men and women on that structure who are just as keen to rid the organisation and the country of corruption and who would like to rescue whatever equity remains of Brand ANC.

The narrow margin by which Ramaphosa won the contest against Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – who was volubly supported by some of the most disagreeable and controversial characters in our politics – also raised the understandable concern that there were almost as many delegates at the ANC’s 54th national conference who were opposed to him as those who supported him. It was understandable that some people would worry that Ramaphosa would not find the kind of support within his organisation that he needs to redirect the country’s fortunes.

While understandable, that concern ignored the fact that, according to various surveys conducted across the country in the run-up to the conference, the vast majority of ANC members in all nine provinces preferred Ramaphosa for the ANC presidency. The small margin of his victory was indicative of the determined efforts by those with vested interests who were threatened by the prospect of a Ramaphosa presidency, among them Jacob Zuma, who worked very hard to persuade as many ANC branches and delegates as possible not to support his candidature.

As I predicted at the time, now that a Ramaphosa presidency is a reality, many of those who were successfully lobbied against him have begun to turn their backs on Zuma, who is now yesterday’s man, and are actively seeking to be in Ramaphosa’s good books. In the weeks and months to come they will work even harder to ingratiate themselves to him and his fellow officials in order to improve their chances of deployment into cushy positions in government, the public service and State-owned companies.

As often happens in the ANC, in the coming months and years those to be elected onto the leadership of the various leagues – Women’s, Youth and Military Veterans – and provincial structures will most likely be made after the image of the leader. That means that, in the months and years to come, the number of overtly pro-Ramaphosa individuals in strategic positions within the ANC will increase, thus making it possible for him to re-orientate the organisation and, hopefully, to advance South Africa’s interests.

So far, Ramaphosa and his team have made a most encouraging start. Not only have they insisted on the prosecution of those against whom allegations of State capture and general malfeasance have been made, but they have also made wholesale changes to the Eskom Board of Directors, on the eve of the annual World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Switzerland. They have made it abundantly clear to Zuma and his remaining defenders that the ANC leadership is the centre of authority, with Zuma and others in Government having to implement ANC policy.

In other words, although at the time of writing Ramaphosa was still Deputy President of the country and Zuma was President, there is no doubt at all that, as of 20 December 2017, Ramaphosa is Zuma’s boss – including in Government. For as long as he remains our Head of State, Zuma has to take instructions from Ramaphosa, as has happened in the case of the appointment of the Ngoepe judicial commission of enquiry into State capture.

Notwithstanding some controversial resolutions adopted at the ANC conference, such as on land restitution without compensation, there is no doubt in my mind that a Ramaphosa-led ANC will do everything possible to revive the economy and to forge a working partnership involving Government, business and labour. I am confident that he and his team will do everything possible to undo the damage done to South Africa by his predecessor and to win back the civilised world’s respect for South Africa.

There is a good chance, therefore, that, while correctly insisting on the need for “radical economic transformation”, the Government will be much more sympathetic to business’s concerns and more accessible for meaningful engagement. It is important that business should not be found wanting in this regard.

SEIFSA will, on its own and through Business Unity South Africa, take full advantage of the blowing winds of change in order to engage meaningfully with policy makers.

Kaizer M. Nyatsumba

Chief Executive Officer

From the Chief Executive Officer’s Desk - November to December 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, South Africa finds itself mired in various controversies and on the brink of a financial precipice. The country finds itself at its worst since the dawn of democracy: the business confidence index is at its lowest since 1985, at the height of the punitive economic sanctions imposed by some in the international community against PW Botha’s apartheid government.

We have become so weary of political and financial scandals, mostly involving our political mandarins and those closely connected to them in the public sector. Our Head of State is a butt of justifiable, endless jokes and has proved to be such a major liability to South Africa Incorporated, and is in many ways responsible for the parlous state in which we find ourselves.

Disclosures or allegations of malfeasance and various other forms of corruption are made on almost a weekly basis, and these appear merely to disappear into the ether, without any visible consequences for those said to be the perpetrators. In a mere 23 years, we have moved from being the darling of the international community to being described as the most corrupt – or one of the most corrupt – countries in the world today.

Our economy is limping along and unemployment levels have reached frightening proportions – and continue to grow. While we began 2017 with much hope, in a matter of months international ratings agencies downgraded us from investment grade to junk status, with worse likely to come before the year is over, thanks to the destructive leadership of President Jacob Zuma and his merry band of myopic and insatiable supporters who can see no further than their own noses.

This was supposed to be the year in which our economy was meant to take a turn for the better, after a number of years of merely plodding along. Various forecasts had anticipated GDP growth of around 1,2% this year, with higher growth levels expected next year and beyond. With global demand for mining commodities recovering somewhat, South Africa was supposed to reap the benefits.

At a time when the country is crying out for inspirational leadership that rallies all of us to a common goal, we have the exact opposite: a leadership vacuum characterised by much cacophony, with whatever passes for leadership focused exclusively on personal survival and wealth accumulation by any means necessary. We have a governing party riven with colossal tensions and very much internally focused, with much of its energy expended on fighting internal battles. On the rare occasions when it does focus externally, it casts around for imaginary enemies.

Whatever its causes, the sad truth remains that post-1994 South Africa has never been as divided as it is now. Racial – and, sometimes, ethnic – cleavages are far more pronounced now that at any time in our democratic era. With our economy performing so dismally owing to the poor economic stewardship that we have experienced from our political leaders, fervent and legitimate cries have echoed everywhere for our economy to be radically transformed to include the black majority whose equity in SA Inc. is negligible, only to be countered by the understandable but mistaken refrain that all our efforts should be focused on growing our shrinking economic cake.

There is a clear, mistaken belief among some of our compatriots that real transformation cannot – and should not – take place until the economy grows. While theoretically a growing economy should make transformation easier, the reality is that transformation simply cannot wait until then. There is absolutely no reason why we cannot advance transformation even as we seek to grow the economy.

In this writer’s view, there are primarily two reasons for the widening and more pronounced racial tensions in the country at the moment. The first is that, with the exceptions of some individuals within it, the government of Jacob Zuma has simply excelled at embracing and celebrating incompetence, mediocrity and outright malfeasance, in the process giving potent ammunition to those among our white compatriots who had always had their doubts about black leadership.

In other words, the Zuma government did a fantastic job in supporting or affirming the stereotype among recovering racists that black people make terrible leaders and cannot run a sophisticated, modern economy. Given the terrible manner in which the scandal-prone Zuma has acquitted himself in office, even decent white compatriots who had believed that South Africa could be an exception on the African continent started to doubt and even question their initial optimism.

Secondly, our stuttering economy has made competition for opportunities and financial resources that much more acute, in the process sharpening the racial chasm. After all, while many may not consciously carry along with them the demon of racism, it is when they believe themselves to be likely to be locked out of opportunities to get jobs or to rise professionally in their jobs, or when they believe they have to give up or share their wealth – through the ownership component of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment, for instance – that they retreat to a mental laager and feel impelled to fight back often covertly, given the considerable risks attached to doing so overtly.

And yet, what South Africa needs, in order to realise its full potential, is for us to leverage the strengths and talents of our compatriots. We need to work together as fellow citizens, with government, business and labour as strategic partners. We need to establish common goals that are indubitably in the country’s best interests and to work together single-mindedly towards their attainment.

As citizens, at election times we need to ensure that we do not give any one party too much power in terms of the electoral majority that it obtains. We need to make sure that we disabuse politicians of the mistaken belief that, once elected, they wield inordinate power. We need to do more than just remind them, but to make them feel that collectively we, the people, wield all the power and they are merely our servants whom we can ditch at will or reward with another term in office for good performance.

Like ordinary citizens, business has a very important role to play. By all means, it should continue to make its collective voice heard, but it has an even greater responsibility not only to respect and observe the country’s laws (including those dealing with transformation and BEE), but also to partner with the elected government and labour to rebuild our country.


Here is wishing you a Very Happy Christmas/ Festive Season and Happy New Year, dear reader. Thank you very much for your support of SEIFSA and our member Associations in 2017. We look forward to welcoming you back in January and we hope for a much better 2018.

Kaizer M. Nyatsumba

Chief Executive Officer

From the Chief Executive Officer’s Desk - September to October 2017

The Third Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba – which featured very senior and high-profile business executives, labour leaders and Government representatives on the programme – took place at the IDC Conference Centre on 14-15 September 2017. All these men and women had in common was a desire to change South Africa’s fortunes and to make the country a success.

Now in its third year, the conference was born out of the need to arrest and eventually reverse the ongoing decline of manufacturing in general and the metals and engineering sector in particular. According to the South African Reserve Bank, the manufacturing sector is 29% larger today than 10 years ago, 66% larger than 20 years ago and 71% larger than 30 years ago. However, its share of the economy declined first from 20% in 1983 to 19% in 1993, and then further still to 18% in 2003, 16 % in 2013 and now around 13%.

Manufacturing exports represent an estimated 35% of production, while imports have captured nearly 45% of the domestic market. On the other hand, the metals and engineering sector exports 60% of its products and competes with imports for 60% of the domestic market.

Yet again, the Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba offered all stakeholders – business executives and captains of industry, policy makers and Government Ministers, as well labour leaders – a vital opportunity to discuss matters of common interest calmly, robustly and yet constructively in order to improve the performance of the sector and grow the economy.

Although a detailed report on the Metals and Engineering Indaba 2017 is carried in this issue of our magazine, it is worth pointing out here that among the speakers at this year’s conference were very senior business, labour and Government representatives like:

  • Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel;
  • Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant;
  • National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa Director Nico Vermeulen;
  • National Association of Automotive Components and Allied Manufacturers (NAACAM) Director Renai Moothilal;
  • Business Unity South Africa CEO Tanya Cohen;
  • Business Leadership South Africa (BUSA) CEO Bonang Mohale;
  • Southern African-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Officer Matthias Borddenberg
  • Bowmans Gilfillan Partner Graham Damant;
  • Department of Labour Chief Director Thembinkosi Mkalipi;
  • NUMSA General Secretary Irvin Jim;
  • Solidarity General Secretary Gideon du Plessis;
  • International Trade and Administration Commission Chief Commissioner Siyabulela Tsengiwe;
  • Voith Turbo Managing Director  Charl Folcher
  • Massmart Chairman Kuseni Dlamini;
  • ANC Treasurer-General and Former KwaZulu-Natal Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize; and
  • Many others of similar pedigree.

It is not easy to have such revered, high-calibre individuals in one room to discuss matters that deeply concern manufacturing in general and the metals and engineering sector in particular. Their inputs and debates were of the highest level, with participation by and questions from the delegates being equally good.

It was, by all accounts, a very successful conference. In a subsequent e-mail, BUSA CEO Tanya Cohen wrote: “Thanks to SEIFSA for the opportunity [to speak at the conference]. It was an exceptionally well organised event. The quality of topics and presenters identified was top class and it was a pleasure for BUSA to participate in such an event.”

Perhaps we can count on you, dear reader, also making an effort to be part of the Indaba in its fourth year in 2018?

For three years in a row now, we have enjoyed great support from some of South Africa’s leading companies, which have been among our sponsors from the very beginning. Some of them joined us in the second year. These are MerSeta, Standard Bank, Investec, Novare, Sanlam, SMS Group and Africa Steel Holdings. We are infinitely grateful to them and look forward to a growing partnership in the years to come.

We have also enjoyed a fantastic media partnership with Engineering News, finweek and Independent Newspapers. In the past two years, we have been involved in an invaluable partnership with the Industrial Development Corporation, which has been so crucial over the years in South Africa’s industrial development. We are immensely grateful to all these partners and hope that they will continue to support us in the years to come.

For more details on the Indaba and on opportunities to become one of our sponsors/partners in future, please, visit www.meindaba.co.za.

Kaizer M. Nyatsumba

Chief Executive Officer