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Kaizer M. Nyatsumba

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

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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

Kaizer M. Nyatsumba

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

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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

Kaizer Nyatsumba

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

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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

Kaizer M. Nyatsumba

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

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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.

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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

Kaizer M. Nyatsumba

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

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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

Kaizer M. Nyatsumba

From the Chief Executive Officer’s Desk – July to August 2017

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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

Kaizer M. Nyatsumba

From the Chief Executive Officer’s Desk – May To June 2017

By | From the CEO's Desk, Latest News | No Comments

The past few months have been very hectic for the SEIFSA team, especially for Operations Director Lucio Trentini, Chief Financial Officer Rajendra Rajcoomar and myself. Supported by a great team led by Associations Manager Theresa Crowley, we have been involved in a series of meetings with General Managers, Managing Directors and Chief Executive Officers of companies that were members of the South African Engineers and Founders Association (SAEFA).

Although these engagements began some months ago, they have accelerated since 1 December 2016 when we were informed by the Chairman of that Association that, at its Special General Meeting a day earlier, SAEFA had decided to resign from the 74-year-old Federation. In addition to these meetings with leaders of companies that are/were members of that Association, we have also held regional roadshows on the East Rand, the West Rand, the Midrand area, Johannesburg and the Vaal Triangle to talk about the SEIFSA membership value proposition and to ask companies to remain within the SEIFSA family.

At the time of writing, colleagues and I were still in the middle of this process. However, we have been very well received by the companies with which we have held meetings so far and our regional roadshows have been well attended. Indeed, the number of former SAEFA member companies that have switched to other SEIFSA-affiliated Associations collectively employ by far the majority of the employees working for companies that were members of SAEFA before the unfortunate 30 November 2016 de-federation decision.

Given the importance of this matter not only to the companies concerned, but also to the entire SEIFSA family and, indeed, the metals and engineering sector, I have decided to deal comprehensively with the SAEFA resignation in my column in this issue of SEIFSA News. I do so in the form of a question-and-answer interview for the benefit of any interested stakeholders and, indeed, those companies that have yet to make the decision to remain affiliated to an Association that continues to be part of the SEIFSA family.

Why did SAEFA resign from SEIFSA?

For some time now, the Association has not been aligned with SEIFSA and its member Associations on a number of issues. These include approaches on the position of the financially-challenged Metals and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council and extension of collective agreements to non-parties, among others. The SEIFSA constituency regards the MEIBC as an important institution whose survival is vital for industrial stability in the sector, and believes that ideally collective agreements reached by the majority of parties in negotiations should be extended to non-parties, while SAEFA holds different views on these issues.

Were the disagreements of such a nature that they could not have been solved?

To the end, we believed strongly that a way could be found to ensure alignment between the SAEFA leadership and SEIFSA. After all, for many years SAEFA was one of the most loyal members and ardent supporters of the Federation. Things started to change when the current leadership of SAEFA was elected two years ago. Regrettably, despite numerous efforts by the SEIFSA Executive Team and the Board to resolve differences with the Association, in the end some in the SAEFA leadership campaigned actively and aggressively for the Association to resign from SEIFSA, South Africa’s oldest and largest employer representative in the metals and engineering sector.

We understand that the SAEFA leadership has been critical about the way in which SEIFSA has been led and has alleged that the organisation has failed to implement mandates from its members. How do you respond?

Yes, some in the top leadership of SAEFA have, indeed, made a series of unfounded allegations against SEIFSA and have been very reluctant to accept incontrovertible facts that disprove their allegations. It is important to note that these allegations have been made by some individuals, and not by the entire Association or all of those in its leadership, and that they are both malicious and baseless.

For the record, SEIFSA is strictly a mandate-driven organization. The Federation derives its mandates from its members, which meet in an assembly of Associations called the SEIFSA Council, to debate matters and agree on a common position that becomes the Federation’s mandate. This has always been the way in which the Federation has operated. When there is no unanimity among member Associations on any matter, the majority position adopted at the SEIFSA Council becomes SEIFSA’s mandate on that matter.

SAEFA has also alleged that SEIFSA has not been as virulently outspoken as NEASA against the unions and the Government. How do you respond?

For a start, unlike others, SEIFSA does not consider the Government and labour as enemies. Instead, we view them as important stakeholders with whom we have to work cooperatively to advance the interests of our sector and to grow the country’s economy. Where we disagree with either stakeholder group, we say so boldly, and when we agree with them on any matter, we work with them as enthusiastic partners.

Secondly, SEIFSA is a federation representing employers throughout the broad metals and engineering value chain. These range from primary steel producers through to metal fabricators, and from small companies employing anything up to 50 people to large, listed or multi-national companies in different sub-sectors of the metals and engineering sector with thousands of employees. Given this vast and diverse constituency, SEIFSA does not easily and readily make public pronouncements on matters in a manner that organisations representing only employers of a particular kind can or do. When it makes public pronouncements, SEIFSA endeavours to represent the views of all – or most – of its constituency. That calls for great circumspection, which is not the case with the organization to which we are being unfairly compared.

How will SAEFA’s resignation affect SEIFSA?

Unfortunately, SAEFA’s resignation weakens the Federation at a time when greater unity of purpose is required among employers to solve the challenges that confront the sector, including the welfare of the MEIBC and the 2017 negotiations on wages and conditions of employment. To that extent, the resignation affects SEIFSA.

However, the Federation still represents 25 loyal employer Associations, which collectively employ the majority of factory workers (in excess of 150 000) in the metals and engineering sector. It remains the authoritative voice of employers in the sector, represents them in collective bargaining and lobbies on their behalf. It remains the only employer representative in the sector with healthy relations with all stakeholders, including labour and the Government, and believes firmly that it will take a solid partnership among Government, business and labour to get South Africa to realize its economic potential.

How many companies are members of SAEFA (and are all of them lost to SEIFSA)?

Just over 500 companies were members of SAEFA. Many of them were unhappy with the decision taken by the Association’s leadership and have since resigned from the Association because they want to remain part of SEIFSA. We expect many more to do so in the weeks and months to come. These companies are joining some of the existing SEIFSA-affiliated Associations, while others are planning to form new Associations that will be affiliated with SEIFSA. We expect at least 300 of these companies (60%) to continue to be part of the SEIFSA family. Collectively, these companies employ by far the vast majority of employees within that Association.

Many companies want to remain within SEIFSA for many reasons, apart from the fact that most of them have had a strong, productive association with the Federation over the years (in the case of some companies, for longer than 50 years). They know that, unlike any other employer organization in the sector, SEIFSA has unequalled experience in collective bargaining, employs qualified and experienced subject-matter experts in a number of Divisions (e.g. Economics and Commercial; Industrial Relations and Legal Services; Human Capital and Skills Development; Safety, Health, Environment and Quality, etc.) and offers a series of important products and services (like the unique SEIFSA Prices and Index Pages) which they access at a discounted price.

Will SEIFSA and SAEFA adopt adversarial positions in the 2017 Negotiations on Wages and Conditions of Employment?

SEIFSA’s philosophy is to work constructively and cooperatively with all stakeholders, whether they be fellow employer organisations or labour unions. That will continue to be our approach not only to the 2017 Negotiations, but to all other matters in which we are involved. We may have differences with the current leadership of SAEFA, but we do not see them or their Association as an enemy. Our approach to these matters is professional, and not personal. We will work with all employer parties within the MEIBC when we are in agreement on issues, as we have always done, and we will advance SEIFSA’s views and interests when there is no agreement with fellow employer parties.

What would you say are the main differences between SEIFSA and SAEFA?

We are comfortable to talk about what we (SEIFSA) stand for, and not so much what others stand for. Fundamentally, SEIFSA believes in:

working closely with our member Associations to further their interests;

effective lobbying of (or with) stakeholders (Government, business and labour) to advance the interests of our members;

constructive collective bargaining which results in a win-win outcome that leads to an internationally competitive metals and engineering sector that can preserve – and even create – jobs;

working with labour, as partners, to solve the challenges which confront the sector, including its non-competitiveness, and to lobby policy makers together in the interest of the sector; and

a solid, collaborative partnership among Government, business and labour.

Kaizer M. Nyatsumba

Chief Executive Officer

Kaizer Nyatsumba

From the Chief Executive Officer’s Desk – March To April 2017

By | From the CEO's Desk, Latest News | No Comments

The past few months have been very hectic for the SEIFSA team, especially for Operations Director Lucio Trentini, Chief Financial Officer Rajendra Rajcoomar and myself. Supported by a great team led by Associations Manager Theresa Crowley, we have been involved in a series of meetings with General Managers, Managing Directors and Chief Executive Officers of companies that were members of the South African Engineers and Founders Association (SAEFA).

Although these engagements began some months ago, they have accelerated since 1 December 2016 when we were informed by the Chairman of that Association that, at its Special General Meeting a day earlier, SAEFA had decided to resign from the 74-year-old Federation. In addition to these meetings with leaders of companies that are/were members of that Association, we have also held regional roadshows on the East Rand, the West Rand, the Midrand area, Johannesburg and the Vaal Triangle to talk about the SEIFSA membership value proposition and to ask companies to remain within the SEIFSA family.

At the time of writing, colleagues and I were still in the middle of this process. However, we have been very well received by the companies with which we have held meetings so far and our regional roadshows have been well attended. Indeed, the number of former SAEFA member companies that have switched to other SEIFSA-affiliated Associations collectively employ by far the majority of the employees working for companies that were members of SAEFA before the unfortunate 30 November 2016 de-federation decision.

Given the importance of this matter not only to the companies concerned, but also to the entire SEIFSA family and, indeed, the metals and engineering sector, I have decided to deal comprehensively with the SAEFA resignation in my column in this issue of SEIFSA News. I do so in the form of a question-and-answer interview for the benefit of any interested stakeholders and, indeed, those companies that have yet to make the decision to remain affiliated to an Association that continues to be part of the SEIFSA family.

Why did SAEFA resign from SEIFSA?

For some time now, the Association has not been aligned with SEIFSA and its member Associations on a number of issues. These include approaches on the position of the financially-challenged Metals and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council and extension of collective agreements to non-parties, among others. The SEIFSA constituency regards the MEIBC as an important institution whose survival is vital for industrial stability in the sector, and believes that ideally collective agreements reached by the majority of parties in negotiations should be extended to non-parties, while SAEFA holds different views on these issues.

Were the disagreements of such a nature that they could not have been solved?

To the end, we believed strongly that a way could be found to ensure alignment between the SAEFA leadership and SEIFSA. After all, for many years SAEFA was one of the most loyal members and ardent supporters of the Federation. Things started to change when the current leadership of SAEFA was elected two years ago. Regrettably, despite numerous efforts by the SEIFSA Executive Team and the Board to resolve differences with the Association, in the end some in the SAEFA leadership campaigned actively and aggressively for the Association to resign from SEIFSA, South Africa’s oldest and largest employer representative in the metals and engineering sector.

We understand that the SAEFA leadership has been critical about the way in which SEIFSA has been led and has alleged that the organisation has failed to implement mandates from its members. How do you respond?

Yes, some in the top leadership of SAEFA have, indeed, made a series of unfounded allegations against SEIFSA and have been very reluctant to accept incontrovertible facts that disprove their allegations. It is important to note that these allegations have been made by some individuals, and not by the entire Association or all of those in its leadership, and that they are both malicious and baseless.

For the record, SEIFSA is strictly a mandate-driven organization. The Federation derives its mandates from its members, which meet in an assembly of Associations called the SEIFSA Council, to debate matters and agree on a common position that becomes the Federation’s mandate. This has always been the way in which the Federation has operated. When there is no unanimity among member Associations on any matter, the majority position adopted at the SEIFSA Council becomes SEIFSA’s mandate on that matter.

SAEFA has also alleged that SEIFSA has not been as virulently outspoken as NEASA against the unions and the Government. How do you respond?

For a start, unlike others, SEIFSA does not consider the Government and labour as enemies. Instead, we view them as important stakeholders with whom we have to work cooperatively to advance the interests of our sector and to grow the country’s economy. Where we disagree with either stakeholder group, we say so boldly, and when we agree with them on any matter, we work with them as enthusiastic partners.

Secondly, SEIFSA is a federation representing employers throughout the broad metals and engineering value chain. These range from primary steel producers through to metal fabricators, and from small companies employing anything up to 50 people to large, listed or multi-national companies in different sub-sectors of the metals and engineering sector with thousands of employees. Given this vast and diverse constituency, SEIFSA does not easily and readily make public pronouncements on matters in a manner that organisations representing only employers of a particular kind can or do. When it makes public pronouncements, SEIFSA endeavours to represent the views of all – or most – of its constituency. That calls for great circumspection, which is not the case with the organization to which we are being unfairly compared.

How will SAEFA’s resignation affect SEIFSA?

Unfortunately, SAEFA’s resignation weakens the Federation at a time when greater unity of purpose is required among employers to solve the challenges that confront the sector, including the welfare of the MEIBC and the 2017 negotiations on wages and conditions of employment. To that extent, the resignation affects SEIFSA.

However, the Federation still represents 25 loyal employer Associations, which collectively employ the majority of factory workers (in excess of 150 000) in the metals and engineering sector. It remains the authoritative voice of employers in the sector, represents them in collective bargaining and lobbies on their behalf. It remains the only employer representative in the sector with healthy relations with all stakeholders, including labour and the Government, and believes firmly that it will take a solid partnership among Government, business and labour to get South Africa to realize its economic potential.

How many companies are members of SAEFA (and are all of them lost to SEIFSA)?

Just over 500 companies were members of SAEFA. Many of them were unhappy with the decision taken by the Association’s leadership and have since resigned from the Association because they want to remain part of SEIFSA. We expect many more to do so in the weeks and months to come. These companies are joining some of the existing SEIFSA-affiliated Associations, while others are planning to form new Associations that will be affiliated with SEIFSA. We expect at least 300 of these companies (60%) to continue to be part of the SEIFSA family. Collectively, these companies employ by far the vast majority of employees within that Association.

Many companies want to remain within SEIFSA for many reasons, apart from the fact that most of them have had a strong, productive association with the Federation over the years (in the case of some companies, for longer than 50 years). They know that, unlike any other employer organization in the sector, SEIFSA has unequalled experience in collective bargaining, employs qualified and experienced subject-matter experts in a number of Divisions (e.g. Economics and Commercial; Industrial Relations and Legal Services; Human Capital and Skills Development; Safety, Health, Environment and Quality, etc.) and offers a series of important products and services (like the unique SEIFSA Prices and Index Pages) which they access at a discounted price.

Will SEIFSA and SAEFA adopt adversarial positions in the 2017 Negotiations on Wages and Conditions of Employment?

SEIFSA’s philosophy is to work constructively and cooperatively with all stakeholders, whether they be fellow employer organisations or labour unions. That will continue to be our approach not only to the 2017 Negotiations, but to all other matters in which we are involved. We may have differences with the current leadership of SAEFA, but we do not see them or their Association as an enemy. Our approach to these matters is professional, and not personal. We will work with all employer parties within the MEIBC when we are in agreement on issues, as we have always done, and we will advance SEIFSA’s views and interests when there is no agreement with fellow employer parties.

What would you say are the main differences between SEIFSA and SAEFA?

We are comfortable to talk about what we (SEIFSA) stand for, and not so much what others stand for. Fundamentally, SEIFSA believes in:

working closely with our member Associations to further their interests;

effective lobbying of (or with) stakeholders (Government, business and labour) to advance the interests of our members;

constructive collective bargaining which results in a win-win outcome that leads to an internationally competitive metals and engineering sector that can preserve – and even create – jobs;

working with labour, as partners, to solve the challenges which confront the sector, including its non-competitiveness, and to lobby policy makers together in the interest of the sector; and

a solid, collaborative partnership among Government, business and labour.

Kaizer M. Nyatsumba

Chief Executive Officer

From The CEO's Desk Sitting Down

From the Chief Executive Officer’s Desk – January To February 2017

By | From the CEO's Desk, Latest News | No Comments

A belated welcome to 2017 and everything of the best to all SEIFSA News readers and their respective families, and to all stakeholders in the metals and engineering sector.

We – all of you reading this issue of our magazine – have survived 2016, which was probably the most difficult year economically in our democratic era. Surviving the year shows that we are sufficiently resilient as companies and individuals. Having done so, we should be more than ready to stabilize and fly in 2017 and beyond.

By all accounts, 2017 is certainly expected to be a much better year than its predecessor. If our political mandarins were to refrain just long enough from shooting themselves in the feet, as is their wont, our hitherto stuttering economy should do considerably better this year. An expert analysis by our Economics and Commercial Division shows that the economy should grow by 1.2% this year and by 1.8% in 2018,  against the backdrop of improved commodity prices. The metals and engineering sector is expected to grow by 1.4% as a function of improving global and domestic growth.

As we all know, though, the economy is intricately intertwined with our politics. This means that the degree to which the aforementioned forecast is realized will be impacted upon by the conduct of our political leaders. Another factor will be the degree to which we will enjoy labour stability in the different sectors of the economy, starting with our own. Collectively, both factors may yet again be significant constraints on the economy, as they have been in the past.

Regrettably, over the past few years our political leaders have proved to be unequalled when it comes to scoring spectacular own goals. That has been our lot as a country over the past few years. Sadly, nothing in the horizon suggests that we may be spared the kind of folly to which we have now become both accustomed and increasingly inured.

If anything, every indication suggests that politically 2017 will be an even more volatile year. This is because the governing party, the African National Congress (ANC), will hold its 54th national conference in Gauteng on 16-20 December 2017, during which a new leadership will be elected. Regrettably, in the run-up to every ANC conference, much focus within the ANC is on jockeying for positions, with members of different factions in the organization expending much – if not all – of their time on positioning themselves for elections to the National Executive Committee (NEC).

In the run-up to provincial and national ANC elections in the past decade, we have seen important decisions in Government deferred or put on hold if they were perceived to have the potential to hurt somebody’s political fortunes, with those perceived to be likely to improve somebody’s political fortunes being actively championed. For the same reason, other initiatives have been opposed or resisted because they would make an individual or faction within the organization look good ahead of the conference.

Leaders and members of the ANC will be very internally focused this year. That much has already been evident since the beginning of the year. The degree of internal divisions in the organisation is unprecedented. Not only do individuals and groups rally behind and support certain candidates for election into the top six and the NEC of the ANC, but, for the first time ever, now members of the self-same organisation go out of their ways actively to impugn the character of those to whom they are opposed or who belong to factions different from their own.

For instance, those in favour of the continuation of the status quo have embarked on a scurrilous campaign to tar and feather especially Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, among others. They have even resorted to manufacturing lies and sundry propaganda against them and spread these to the media through whispering campaigns.

This is totally unprecedented. I have never known such a divisive election campaign in the ANC before.

At the time of writing, it appears as though there are some dynamics of a not-dissimilar but low-profile nature at play within the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA). The sudden resignation of Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille as DA leader in the Western Cape looks and sounds very suspicious, despite protests to the contrary from De Lille herself.

Given the various controversies in which he has been mired, President Jacob Zuma’s standing as Head of State has been seriously undermined to the extent that he can no longer address either House of Parliament without attendant drama. With his appeals against the re-instatement of the 700-plus charges against him and the Public Protector’s damning findings against him in the State of Capture report due to be finalized this year, President Zuma is likely to have an even tougher time in 2017 than he did last year.

Any controversy in which President Zuma finds himself mired will damage the candidature of his former wife, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, for the ANC presidency because, rightly or wrongly, she is seen as his proxy. Whether or not she is, indeed, his proxy, what we know for a fact is that she is his preferred successor.

So, while all indications are that 2017 will be a better year for our economy, much depends on the quality of political leadership that we will see this year. Unfortunately, that is something over which we have no control.  However, we can – and should – keep our heads down and focus on that which is in our direct control.

 

Kaizer M. Nyatsumba

Chief Executive Officer

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