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 . 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

Kaizer M. Nyatsumba

Chief Executive Officer

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That is the topic that will be debated robustly at the first plenary session of the inaugural Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba scheduled to take place on 28 and 29 May.