While I could have chosen the symbolism of ebony and ivory, two-tone shoes, zebra stripes (which we have adopted as the core of Brandhill Africa™’s “Top Place Brand Awards” brand communications), I’ve decided the most empowering interracial demographic symbolism could best be captured by the harmony, synergies and interdependence of the piano keys. Nowadays social cohesion is the currency not only in the strategic intent to build integrated and sustainable communities, but also in developing a progressive corporate culture. Those ardent readers of Jambo Africa Online will testify I’m a strong proponent of the dialectics of culture, an avowed continentalist and a global citizen as I believe there’s a strong equity in intercultural osmosis or cultural transvergence. Let me hasten to categorically state that this symbolism for me goes beyond the race demographic,  but it also speaks to the convergence of the apparent or perceived contradictory, antagonistic or different viewpoints or backgrounds. While I am against any form of exclusion, I’m a strong proponent for levelling the playing field by developing appropriate instruments to ensure this strategic imperative of redressing the historical imbalances is achieved. 

While the mainstream media in South Africa is awash with harrowing stories about crimes committed overwhelmingly by criminals who are immigrant, the country needs to be extra cautious that in its communication about the challenges of this rising crime it does not create the impression it has criminalised the construct of “immigration”. Immigration is – to a large extent – also a tool for economic development. I’m glad our Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, has timeously gazetted the “critical skills list” – which is a list of scarce skills that the country is in dire need of to advance its economy so that it could be able to meet its constitutional obligation to provide “a better life for all” – which is the brand mantra of the ruling party, African National Congress (ANC). While on this issue of correctly framing our messaging, let me hasten to say the challenges of containing illegal immigration at the South Africa-Zimbabwe border aren’t about South Africa blocking Zimbabwean nationals trying to illegally cross into this country, my logic – that is, I don’t have conclusive statistics – tells me it is about South Africa blocking other nationals of countries north of the Limpopo river transiting through Zimbabwe to cross illegally into South Africa. Again, my logic tells me they are a burden to Zimbabwe too.

Yes, I acknowledge what specifically relates directly to the Zimbabwean nationals, already immigrant in South Africa, is the issue of the cancellation/extension of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEPs). It’s a pity the Southern African Liaison Office (Salo), an advocacy group quoted extensively in the media, believes this ZEPs issue is against the principles of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). My advise to them is for them to familiarise themselves with the negotiations on the continental integration process – particularly on the issue of free movement of people which we’re all yearning for. As non-state actors, we have to exert maximum pressure on all the AU/AfCFTA state parties to accelerate the integration project – do remember only 43 AU member states have thus far ratified the AfCFTA and less than 35 AU member states have not signed the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment. Furthermore, the screaming headline, “South Africa sliding towards self-isolation”, of The Zimbabwe Independent newspaper in response to the release of the “Framework Document on South Africa’s national interest and its advancement in a global environment” is both unfortunate and regrettable. All the member states of a multilateral union have to develop maximum clarity on what their national interests are which they will advance through their membership of the union. Equally significant, South Africa’s messaging to its citizenry should emphasise adherence to the rule of law as non-negotiable since we are a constitutional democracy. A few weeks ago I wrote in this news portal that my research has indicated the rule of law is ranked number one, out of 40 factors, by foreign investors as the most significant and relevant for them in deciding on investment destinations.

Besides the undocumented immigrants exerting undue pressure on a country’s fiscus, they’re also posing a national security risk not only to a host country but to the entire continent. Crime is also a deterrent to both foreign investors and tourists. As we rebrand Africa for its development, we can’t chant empty marketing slogans, but we have to advocate for fundamental changes by uncompromisingly committing to establishing good governance and building peace and security.

Let me put it straight: othering the other is uncivil. Racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia and all forms of exclusion and prejudice are criminal. These societal ills are criminalised by our constitution as it guarantees human rights to all. Naturally, it also gives full authority to the law enforcement agencies to ensure safety and security for all within the borders of our country – nationals and immigrants.

Skills are a precondition for economic development

Investors chase after skills. That’s why Dr Motsoaledi’s critical skills list is crucial. It’s also a guide to our diplomatic missions across the world in knowing which skills they need to recruit from their host countries. Yes, absolutely, while the country has the responsibility to develop these critical skills and retain them, we still have to attract them from other countries. We have to be competitive as a country. I previously spoke about the dire review findings of our education sector by the National Planning Commission (NPC) in 2020. I have also spoken about the country having to import artisans such as welders from such countries as South Korea when we were building Medupe power station. I have spoken about the country doing the reverse of the universal norm of having a ratio of five learners at a TVET college to one at a university. I have argued before that we need to mount a mass education campaign to change our people’s mis/perceptions of TVET colleges which were previously derogatively positioned as “ambag skools” – meaning trade institutions meant for those who were less intellectually gifted. That’s why we have an acute shortage of artisanal skills hence we have to import them into this country. 

Let me be unpopular: many South Africans DO NOT want to do the kind of jobs – such as being chefs and waitrons in restaurants – which are usually taken up by immigrants. In the previous critical skills lists, chefs were included. I know many of our people who are unemployed who believe such jobs are beneath them. By the way, this could be a universal phenomenon. I have met many South African professional nurses who take up jobs in Europe only to work in old age homes and orphanages because the local health professionals in their host countries are only prepared to take up jobs in proper hospitals. 

Walking the talk

Let me go back to the core subject of this week’s narrative: social cohesion. I will nominate one company that I have found extremely interesting as a case study in entrepreneurship development in line with the analogies that I have used in my opening paragraphs. I’ll profile two trailblazers, Clement  Zitha Dube and Paul Edward Naude, who do come from different backgrounds but have resolved to converge into an entity, Zigorta Associates (Pty) Ltd,  whose mission is to capacitate businesses to thrive. They have given me an unparalleled fulfilment in reading their personal and company profiles.

Their opening salvo is that there is an inherent need to redress pitfalls that engulf businesses throughout the stages of its development: namely, Start- Up; Growth; Expansion; Maturity; and Decline. The duo correctly argue businesses need capacity and technical competency for sustainability and relevance in the market.

“We foster and build a professional relationship with businesses in terms of providing third party support and guidance with regard to certain business streams,” says Zitha. “Our focal point is in the area of providing additional assurance in line with our client’s goals and profitability across its range of services.”

Paul added: “We have a strong multifunctional team of personnel, with sufficient maturity and experience to add a new dimension to any organization’s approach. Our team is enthusiastic to add value through a focused approach and outstanding service. We are geared to delivering value for money, integrity and quality service with an emphasis on providing the highest quality business advisory and compliance approaches at a realistic cost.”

They indicate their services could be succinctly tabulated as follows:

  1. Specialised funding and financial risk analysis assessments. This includes expertise in project risk analysis methodologies.
  2. Ongoing monitoring and assessment in problematic and complex situations. In this case we would be in a position to assist with respect to a business status assessment as well as reporting thereon in terms of situation turnaround approaches and business rescue processes in order to avoid liquidations with companies in financial distress.
  3. Based on the knowledge transfer approach, we would envisage that over a period of time, the entity would move to a greater state of sustainability and efficiency.

The two keys on our keyboard 

Zitha is the Director and Lead Advisor in the company. He’s armed with a Bachelor of Commerce (B.Comm), a Higher Diploma in Tax; MTP(SA); ACIBM; CIT; CEA; and an MBA from the Potchefstroom Business School. He is a member of a number of professional bodies – such as SAIT, SAIBA and ICSA.

Zitha  started  his career in the manufacturing  industry  after  he completed his  studies  at  the  University of Limpopo as an HR Officer, then  a  Materials  Controller and  Cost  Analyst  in  the  Rosslyn, an industrial area in Pretoria. He stayed the longest at  SABMiller  in  Ga-Rankuwa for seven years where he first served as an Administrative Accountant and later as a Financial  Accountant. 

While working, he studied part-timely pursuing further degrees and diplomas at University of South Africa (UNISA), North West University (NWU) and the Chartered  Secretaries  Southern Africa amongst  others.

He then joined Ginsburg, Malan & Cousins as a Financial Manager with broader scope incorporating Pension and Provident Funds with a span of managing  fifteen supervisors. 

This was followed shortly by a career  spanning 13 years in  the  Financial Services,Tax, Accounting and Property Markets through several  business entities AgriGate  Ltd – an  Israel-based agricultural projects company currently rolling out agri-business streams across Africa with  South Africa as its hub; New City  Group – responsible  for landmarks  such as The  Emperor’s Palace, Park Inn, Katherine Quay, Esprit, 175 Empire Place (all in JHB) and  15 On Orange  in Cape Town. His hands-on  marketing involvement also include Copper Leaf, Jackal Creek, Eye of  Africa  and  various commercial and industrial properties in Gauteng.

Following his role as a sole director of Lexshell 36 General Trading, a BBKTA investment vehicle that acquired a  15% stake in the UNION JV in 2006, Zitha served on the resultant company’s Executive Committee, followed by several other board  appointments on other BBKTA  entities, of note BBKFS, an asset management company with over  R12 billion of assets under management. He assumed the position of a Chief Financial Officer  at  BBKTA from March 2009 with  the  scope covering but not limited to Financial Reporting, Governance, Secretaryship,Taxation, Business Advisory and Strategic Leadership; transversal functions such as HR, Community Development, Agri-Business, Corporate Affairs and ICT, the  Executive  Management Team and the Traditional  Council, as  well  as Monitoring and Evaluation of Statutory  compliance, functional support on the Provincial Legislature (PFMA & GRAP) and an oversight project management on processes  and infrustructure.

He has also served in executive  directorship at Life Empowerment Training Skills (LETS), a  BANKSETA  accreditated entity  rendering Training & Development in Financial  Literacy  and  Entrepreneurship; and also as Executive Head: Finance & Operations and as Acting CEO at the Black Business Council.

He also serves as on the BRICS Financial Services Portfolio Committee and four Portfolio Committees of the Black Business Council.

Paul is the company’s Lead Advisor. His academic credentials are illustrious – and these include BSc, BSc Hons, MBA (Wits), BCompt Hons (UNISA) and CA (SA). He is a member of such professional bodies as SAICA and IRBA.

He has had a varied and interesting career over the past two decades, garnering significant on-the-job experience and expertise in this journey on various aspects of financial and management accounting and risk and advisory services.

Following completion of his MBA at the University of the Witwatersrand, he joined Fluor Engineering as a Senior Project Controls Engineer and was subsequently promoted to Principal Project Controls Engineer and was Project Controls Manager in the USA, contributing towards project viability, financing and investing decisions in both South Africa and the United States of America. He had specialist roles in Risk Analysis regarding both project specific and future plant viability assessments on petrochemical, biotech and mining assignments.

After completing his initial undergraduate studies at the University of the Witwatersrand and subsequently attending the UCT Accounting conversion course in Cape Town, he served his articles at Ernst & Young, ultimately qualifying as a Chartered Accountant.

Paul later joined Coca Cola Canners of Southern Africa as Finance and Logistics Manager, with the responsibility for financial reporting, logistics and procurement of raw materials, internal audit, contracts and systems implementation.

Following business advisory experience obtained through a listed company, DNA Supply Chains Group, and his own business advisory company, Dashing Stripes, he was subsequently appointed as audit partner and director at NZI group of companies, and was responsible for a number of audits including the SABC, Autopax (Transnet subsidiary), SABRIC, Diabo Trust and Majweng Mining Investments. Under the auspices of the Auditor-General of South Africa, he was the engagement partner for various municipal audits, South African National Defence Force audits and other government audits.

His clients have included both the private and public sector, as well as the civil society sector, such as Standard Bank Executors Trust (SET), the Presidency, Onderstepoort Biological Products (veterinary vaccines), Competition Commission, National Credit Regulator (ABC), Harmony Gold (Internal Audit and Sarbanes Oxle implementation), Electricity Distribution and Industry Holdings (EDI) internal audit, and many other companies.

This case study for me represents we can cross over as a people, collaborate, and help build a country and a continent with a prosperous future.

Enjoy your weekend.

Saul Molobi (FCIM)

PublisherJambo Africa Online
Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer: Brandhill Africa™

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