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In this space in the last issue of this publication, I bemoaned the fact that everything looked like 2016 would be yet another tough year for the country. Since then, more evidence of that reality has become available.

Thankfully, however, there appears to be a rainbow on the sky. Finally, it would seem that there is consensus among the different stakeholders groups – including the governing party – on the seriousness of the situation confronting South Africa. In an unprecedented manner, President Jacob Zuma’s State-of-the-Nation Address on 11 February focused quite heavily on the parlous state of the economy, with the President acknowledging publicly that the Government alone did not have all the answers.

In his annual Budget Speech, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan went even further and stressed that it was only with the cooperation of the business community that the country may avoid a junk-status downgrade by the international ratings agencies. Indeed, both in the run-up to the State-of-the-Nation Address and the Budget Speech, President Zuma and Minister Gordhan had a series of meetings with business leaders, thus continuing the South Africa Inc. approach that they had adopted ahead of the annual World Economic Forum summit in Davos, Switzerland in January.

In March Minister Gordhan led a team of business leaders on an investment road show to the United Kingdom and the USA, during which they again spoke the same language. Amid some background noises about his relationship with current (at the time of writing) South African Revenue Services Commissioner Tom Moyane and the South African Police Service’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (commonly known as the Hawks), Minister Gordhan has single-mindedly focused on the job at hand with great equanimity.

Although these are early days, and although it may be too late in the day to avoid a ratings downgrade, nevertheless this serious partnership currently on display between the Government and the business community is encouraging. Indeed, it is long overdue.

In fact, it is as if the Government has just woken up to the reality that business is a partner, and not an enemy. It can never be in business’s interest for South Africa to fail economically and/or politically. Instead, in order to thrive, business requires a politically and economically stable environment in which the rules of the game are consistent, known by all and adhered to.

Therefore, belated though this rapprochement between Government and business is, it remains something to be welcomed and commended. We need more such interactions and an even stronger partnership between the two stakeholder groups for South Africa to prosper.

It is important that, regardless of whatever reservations we may have about the lateness of this newly-found maturity, we commend President Zuma and Minister Gordhan for reaching out to business leaders in the manner in which they have done since the latter’s re-appointment into the Finance portfolio following the 9 December 2015 imbroglio that caused South Africa enormous harm domestically and abroad.

I hope that this newly-found partnership with the private sector will be replicated throughout all Departments in Government and throughout all tiers of government. This partnership worked remarkably well during the Mandela and, to some extent, the Mbeki presidencies, but was very much absent during the Zuma presidency – until now.

However, even with a rock-solid partnership between the Government and the business community, South Africa will still not achieve its full potential. Important though the two stakeholder groups are, by themselves they are not enough to take South Africa forward. The labour movement is a very important part of that equation.

Predictably, the toenadering between Pretoria and the business community has led to some concerns among the labour movement, which has watched events from a distance. It is vitally important that everything possible is done to bring the labour movement fully on board as a matter of extreme urgency. After all, labour instability is one of the main concerns that investors have about South Africa as an investment destination.

We wish the team well in its commendable – albeit belated – efforts to save South Africa from a junk status from the international ratings agency. They deserve our full and enthusiastic support. Long may this trilateral partnership continue in the country’s interest.

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The SEIFSA Awards for Excellence for 2015 are upon us. This is yet another opportunity for us to recognise excellence in our sector.

If you care enough about manufacturing in Southern Africa in general and the metals and engineering sector in particular and believe that you are one of the companies that excel in one or other part of business, then you also don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to enter for the SEIFSA Awards for Excellence so that you can be recognised publicly for your excellence and be rewarded for it.

There are seven categories in which you can seek to be recognised by a panel of independent experts. These are:

Most Innovative Company of the Year, to be awarded to a company that has shown the best level of innovation in Research and Development or Production, in the process either gaining market advantage or reducing production costs;

Health & Safety Award of the Year,  to be awarded to a company with the best legal compliance record when it comes to Health and Safety or the lowest Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR);

Best Corporate Social Responsibility Programme of the Year, to be awarded to a company with a CSI project that makes the biggest impact on the lives of its beneficiaries;

Customer Service Award of the Year, to be awarded to a company with the best/highest rating by its customers for its performance in customer service;

Most transformed company of the Year (X2), to be awarded to the most transformed company in terms of the composition of its Board of Directors, Executive Management and Managerial Team: one category will pit companies employing fewer than 100 people against one another, and the second category will pit companies employing more than 100 companies against one another.

Decade of the Artisan Award, to be awarded to a company with the highest number of artisans trained each year (for itself and/or the industry).

 

Among the awards to be given out in the CEO’s Awards category will be one for the SEIFSA-affiliated Employer Association of the Year, to be given to an Association that has worked hard to grow its membership and to ensure alignment with the Federation and its other Associations.

So, does your company excel in anyone of the categories mentioned above? If so, enter the SEIFSA Awards for Excellence and stand a chance to be recognised for your excellence. Such recognition should help you to improve morale among your employees, to motivate them and, through your marketing efforts, to get your company to stand out among its competitors. For more details, please visit www.seifsaawards.co.za.

Winners of the SEIFSA Awards for Excellence will be announced at a breakfast that will take place on 26 May 2016, the first day of the Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba 2016. Now in its second year, this vital conference will take place on 26-27 May at the IDC Conference Centre in Sandton, following our conclusion of a strategic partnership with the Industrial Development Corporation.

The 2016 Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba will be bigger and better, with speakers from our sector and related sectors, such as auto manufacturing, construction and mining. Former President Kgalema Motlanthe will open the conference. For more details, please visit www.meindaba.co.za.

Register now. In recognition of the current state of our sector and the economy, delegate fees have been reduced – and there is a 25% discount for those registering before 31 March 2016! Don’t miss out. Book now.

I look forward to seeing you at the second Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba in Sandton on 26-27 May.

Kaizer M. Nyatsumba

Chief Executive Officer

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