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TABLE OF CONTENTS

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Editorial

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INNOVENT’s Zakhe Khuzwayo

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SNG Grant Thornton’s Aaron Mthimunye

10 Life in South Africa’s Economic Hub 14 SIP’s Charles Israelite 18 Five Proverbs for African Professionals 22 DIDG’s Donovan Chimhandamba 25 LYT Architecture’s Guy Steenekamp 28 PWC’s Hein Boegman 32 Letsema’s Isaac Shongwe 35 Hirsh Women in Business Gala Dinner 36 Sanctions Against Eritrea Being Lifted, Here’s Why 38 CESA Awards 41 Wilfred Ngubane

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EDITORIAL

SAFE AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS AHEAD! reputation is everything and upholding that under his watch is what keeps him awake and motivated. We speak to Executive Chairman Donovan Chimhandamba about how he wants to see the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group transform from being an early stage development company to becoming a corporate entity and be known as the leading infrastructure development and management company in Zimbabwe managed by Zimbabweans.

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outh Africa currently finds itself in a technical recession. It can either fall headlong into a political quagmire, characterised by heightened socioeconomic turmoil; or it can back away from the cliff, look at the leadership examples of its predecessors and find safer, common-sense ways to ‘cross the gorge’. We speak to business leaders and find out some of the ways they are using to lead their businesses to growth, prosperity and sustainability. We speak to Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer at InnoVent Zakhe Khuzwayo about how the firm is providing access to technology by providing financing solutions for companies to be able to acquire technology without having to outlay the capital in acquiring that technology.

We speak to Isaac Shongwe, Founder and Chairman of Letsema, about how he sees business as a catalyst for social change and is engaged in many social activities principally focused on the development of values-based leaders throughout the African continent. For those readers that will be travelling: buckle up, keep your eyes on the road, drive sober, keep bright and let us meet each other again safely in the new year.

MZUKONA MANTSHONTSHO Publishing Executive

We speak to Hein Boegman, CEO for PwC Africa about the humbling experience of being elected by 400 partners across Africa to serve in such an influential role. According to Hein,

Publisher: The Proud African Professional (Pty) Limited Reg. Number: 2010/012428/07 P.O. BOX 4935, Randburg, 2125 Republic of South Africa Tel: 067 044 5225 www.theafricanpro.com Director: Carol Malonza – carol@africanpro.co.za Twitter: @mueni8 Managing Editor: KC Rottok – kc@africanpro.co.za Twitter: @africankc Publishing Executive: Mzukona Mantshontsho Edition Writers/Contributors: Julia De Kadt Alexandra Parker Patrick Mpedzisi Shupikai Gwabuya Martin Plaut Photography: Mzu Nhlabati www.creativenation.co.za Design: Kelele Communication www.kelele.co.za Website: Drutech Media www.drutechmedia.co.za Advertising Enquiries: info@africanpro.co.za To subscribe or contribute an article, email us at info@africanpro.co.za All rights reserved. Excerpts may be used as long as this magazine is credited as the source. Longer versions of our content may only be used with the written permission of the Publisher. Neither the publisher nor the editor accept responsibility for any information from edition writers or contributors. Whilst we have taken care in preparing this publication, the publisher/ editor does not warrant its completeness or accuracy. The editor retains the right to edit all contributions. Advertisers are responsible for their material. © The African Professional / The Expatriate SA: ISSN 2218 – 757X.

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Communicate the vision and give people the space to deliver – Zakhe Khuzwayo By Mzukona Mantshontsho

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InnoVent RENTAL & ASSET MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS is an asset-based financing company. The main goal at InnoVent is to provide access to technology by providing financing solutions for companies to be able to acquire technology without having to outlay the capital in acquiring that technology. InnoVent offers specialised leasing and life cycle management solutions for rapidly depreciating assets. With over 200 clients, InnoVent has over R2billion worth of assets under management, with offices in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia and The United Kingdom.

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InnoVent actively promotes the re-hire of refurbished technology by African businesses and Educational institutions. The InnoVent approach supports the sustainable and ethical re-use of technology. InnoVent offers IT Funding Solutions, IT Leasing, Technology Sourcing, Asset Management Services, IT Maintenance, IT Disposal, and ReCycled IT Hardware. The African Professional Magazine spoke to Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer at InnoVent Zakhe Khuzwayo about his personal, professional and entrepreneurial journey thus far. Tell us about your early life (Academic, Professional Development, and your role today), what was your training like? Early on in high school in the Midlands in Pietermaritzburg where I grew up, I always wanted to be in something that would make a difference. Initially I wanted to go into health. Medicine was one interest of mine, and I had an interest in business. As I grew up, I matured and realized my strengths and weaknesses. Medicine was not my true passion and it fell by the way side and the end goal was going into business. Being in the leasing industry was purely

by chance. I studied a B. Com Degree at the University of Natal to become an Accountant. I joined PwC for my articles for three years and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2001. An auditing client at PwC took an interest in me and the work I did. It was an Australian company in the leasing industry that had just been established in South Africa: Rentworks. I joined them in 2002 until 2004 after which we started InnoVent with my business partner and CEO DJ Kumbula. What does the role of being Co-Founder & CFO at InnoVent mean to you? Being Co-Founder means I have the responsibility of ensuring that the vision of the company is upheld, communicated to everyone in the business and understood. I am there to ensure that we are still striving to achieving all our company goals. When we started the business, I was financially adept, hence it was the logical decision for me to handle the books as Chief Financial Officer. Now that I have team, I am more involved in the sales side – for the company to grow, we must go out there and find business. This is critical for the sustainability of InnoVent. What are you currently working on and what can we expect from you going forward? InnoVent is known for financing and backing technology, so we are looking at diversifying our asset base and I am specifically looking at Construction equipment and Yellow Metal for the next three to five years to complement our IT base. I am building up that line of business going forward. What initiative would leave the greatest impact for you and for Africa as a whole? There are a few things that need to be done. One initiative that must be done is to grow businesses in general. Let us grow small businesses, let us encourage www.theafricanpro.com

a thriving entrepreneurial environment where businesses can do business with government, who happens to be the biggest spender in the economy. The spending is there in government, but small businesses are finding it hard to be accommodated and that needs to change. To me it’s the most obvious thing that should be happening. Small businesses end up going to the private sector where there is stiff competition in a limited market space. It’s really hard work, a lot of failures are realized, and you get businesses closing. Let government support the small startups out there so that they can survive, and we can fight the unemployment, inequality and poverty we are faced with daily as a country. What would you say are the most critical resources for successful leadership? How would people describe you as a Leader? You must be clear about the vision. I am able to articulate what needs to be done. I’d like to think that my leadership style is that of leading from the back. I communicate what needs to be done and then give people the space to do their work, I don’t dictate how it should be done, as long as it’s done. I believe we have been successful in balancing the actions given the 15 years we have been in business. What is the legacy that you would want to leave in your role? The legacy I want to leave scares me, I must say. They say if your dream doesn’t scare you, you not dreaming big enough. I would like to leave a sustainable business that is Pan African, Global and forward looking in nature, started by two people and influences the way business is done all over the World. I would like a good story to be told out of South Africa through InnoVent. How do you strike the balance of career, business and interpersonal skills?


We have a flat structure as a business, I have an open-door policy, people are free to come to my office or send me an email and we talk. Interaction between the staff and I is easy. I am accessible. How has the company done in terms of business growth objectives? We have been very conservative in the way we grow and how quickly that happens. We have maintained a steady growth rate, we shy away from fast growth, we are managing just over R2billion worth of assets, so for me that is a decent growth rate. We will grow rapidly when the right time comes. How do you maintain ethics, integrity and professionalism? It is in our DNA to avoid any ethical dilemmas be it here at home, in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania or The United Kingdom. It’s a fundamental rule, we don’t take short cuts to get business, we are happy to wait a year or two to secure a deal. Integrity is one of the key pillars in our mission statement. How do you participate in mentorship, if you do? We take between 6 and 10 finance or IT graduates for a full year vibrant internship programme – these graduates rotate through the different departments in the business and get a sense of what we do. I am proud to say we’ve had a 100% take up from these graduates over the past three years. We’ve also found that some of our mentees have been taken up by other companies soon after the internship, they grow and spread their wings in other places. We are always happy to see that as we are also able to take more people under our wing and grow them. How does the company contribute to the community? We offer 6 to 10 full bursaries to deserving tertiary students from first

year to post-graduate studies in the field of finance and IT annually. These learners are coached, nurtured and assisted in shaping their career paths. I personally enjoy these interactions with the students. How is the company doing in terms of Transformation objectives? We are on the right path. 80% of our staff complement is from previously disadvantaged backgrounds, 70 to 75% is women, specifically black. Our Exco is 70 to 80% black, we are a transformed business demographically. What makes you tick or keeps you awake at night about your position? I am always excited about the impact we make to the lives of the over 120 staff members, seeing them achieve their personal and financial dreams is very rewarding. The average age here is 27 years, it is always rewarding when you see the impact we have in reducing the high unemployment in the country. It is always encouraging when you see young professionals coming in and they use public transport to get to work, three years down the line, they are driving their own cars and staying on their own, away from their families, seeing the independence and that growth is rewarding. Watching InnoVent grow and expand, the fact that we have a thriving business in London is a plus to our aspirations as a South African business that has a global footprint. The hardest part is managing people and their expectations, people are people. Sometimes you spend your energy on issues that are on the periphery of the business we are all about, that is hard. The part where you have to discipline people, let go of some individuals, or deal with negative people. That is draining and not really encouraging. What have been the highs and lows in your working career?

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The highs are when we close a deal, when we bring a new client on board, be it a large corporation or a JSE Listed company, that brings joy. The lows would be when we are faced with a legal battle when things go pear-shaped in business and we must go the legal route to find a solution. I would do anything to avoid those moments in the business we are in. What awards has the company won? In 2010, we became members of Endeavor. Endeavor is a global leading supporter of high-impact entrepreneurs around the world with focus on companies that are ready to scale, because that is where the highest job and wealth creation occur. Their global network helps entrepreneurs achieve growth locally and globally - the organization has seasoned champions of the industry and business leaders, that enabled us to have a global outlook and view in doing business. We have become and are well known for being the go to company for financing technology assets. When you are not at work, what do you get up to, including family life, where can people follow you online? I’m an avid reader, I love the outdoors, I do the gym whenever I can. I love the alone time on a Sunday for my bike rides. I love travelling; I make sure that I travel to two places I’ve never been to annually. People can follow the work we do on our website: www.innovent.co.za. I am also on Facebook and LinkedIn as Zakhe Khuzwayo.

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MASISIZANE FUND The Masisizane Fund (NPC) is an initiative of Old Mutual South Africa, established in 2007 following the closure of the Unclaimed Shares Trust. The mandate of the Fund is to contribute meaningfully to employment creation, poverty eradication and reduction of inequality, economic growth and the attraction of investment. This is achieved through the promotion of entrepreneurship, enterprise finance and support to small, micro and medium enterprises. The fund’s focus is on enterprises that are 51% or more owned by previously disadvantaged individual(s) giving priority to rural and peri-urban/township areas. Masisizane gives preference to businesses that are owned by youths, people with disabilities or are owned by (51% or more) women and targets productive and labour absorbing sectors. The Fund’s success is driven by a focused approach on high impact industry sectors, coupled with a comprehensive SMME finance solution that includes business support. The Fund provides loan finance in the following sectors: Agribusiness Franchising Supply Chain The Fund supplies non-financial value adding post investment services including capacity development, business management and technical support, financial education, market development and product/ service quality standards and compliance. A Business Accelerator Program has been established where potential clients receive targeted skills training and support to grow into a business eligible to receive financial support. Masisizane operates nationally with its head office in Gauteng and regional offices in KwaZuluNatal, Limpopo, Eastern Cape and Western Cape. Submit the following documents for an initial screening by the relevant provincial office: • Comprehensive business plan with market analysis and projections; • For established businesses – past financials (preferably 3 years) and latest management accounts; • For start-up businesses – financial projections; • Tax clearance certificate; • Off take agreements and/or letters of intent; • Signed consent for a credit check. Contact details: • Gauteng, North West and Free State − 011 217 1746 • Western and Northern Cape − 021 509 5074 • KwaZulu-Natal − 031 335 0400 • Eastern Cape − 043 704 0116 • Limpopo and Mpumalanga − 015 295 9741

For more information and where to find us visit www.masisizanefund.co.za An initiative of the

Old Mutual is a Licensed Financial Services Provider

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Promoting open and engaging Leadership – Aaron Mthimunye By Mzukona Mantshontsho

empowerment is not a mere obligation but a key business imperative. The South African Professional Services Academy spoke to MD: Assurance at SNG Grant Thornton Aaron Mthimunye about his personal and professional journey thus far. Tell us your brief history: academic and professional to your role TODAY

SNG joined the GRANT THORNTON global network as a member firm in South Africa. SNG, an indigenous black-owned firm, has enjoyed great success in the local and broader African market thanks to the pioneering vision of its leadership and the talent of its people. Grant Thornton has a long-standing presence in the country through its existing member firm, Grant Thornton South Africa, which shares a common vision with SNG and has been a respected provider of world class service to its large client base. SNG and Grant Thornton South Africa fully integrated to one truly representative national professional services firm under the brand name SNG GRANT THORNTON. This exciting development not only creates a significant, empowered and truly African firm with a global reach, but the significant pool of talent also reflects the view that black economic

Like any black child in the 1980’s in a semi-rural area in KwaMhlanga - KwaNdebele, in the Mpumalanga Province, I wanted to be either a Doctor or Engineer. In Standard 9 or Grade 11 today, we were rudely introduced to the news that Physical Science would be discontinued as we did not have a qualified teacher, this was disturbing and shocking. That is when I was introduced to Accounting. Further research at the Educational Information Centre in Pretoria, I was introduced to Chartered Accountancy South Africa. I enrolled at Wits University for my B. Com Degree, I went further to do my CTA via distance learning at UKZN. I joined Deloitte & Touche for my articles. I developed an interest in Corporate Finance. I then joined the African Merchant Bank in my role in Corporate Finance. What does it mean to you that your colleagues have entrusted you with the position of MD: Assurance? I had a lot of mixed feeling at first, I must say, I was very excited, but at the same time, I had concerns about my capabilities and was more anxious, fearful, apprehensive, and concerned that I didn’t want to fail, there was a lot www.theafricanpro.com

of restructuring that needed to be done. Support from family and colleagues eased me into the position. I had to find myself and be able to take others with me on the journey to help me with the challenging times ahead. What would you like to have achieved by the end of your term? The position is performance driven, about 70% of the work is from the public sector and 30% is from the private sector, we need to balance this out. The organisation should be an all-inclusive space and not just a black professional firm. We need to create a platform where all professionals, regardless of race or gender can exhibit their talents without fear, favour, or prejudice. We need to have a caring and sustainable business all round. How would you describe your management and leadership styles? I am all about giving people the opportunities like I was given an opportunity, trusting them, and walking the mile them. I am always keen to develop our professionals to move from Senior Management to Director level and supporting them when the need arises. My leadership is open and engaging, let us not be afraid to fail, if we are able to learn from those failures. Communication is vital, regular updates are important, so we are all on the same page – I am a firm believer in on-the-job training. What makes you tick or keeps you awake at night with respect to your position?

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“I am all about giving people the opportunities like I was given an opportunity, trusting them, and walking the mile with them. I am always keen to develop our professionals to move from Senior Management to Director level and supporting them when the need arises. My leadership is open and engaging, let us not be afraid to fail, if we are able to learn from those failures…” People’s development is key and exciting, its fulfilling to see people grow and achieve from the exposure we have created. Exceeding our client’s expectations keeps me motivated and energised to identify more talent and nurture it. What worries me as a firm, we are growing, are we able to mitigate any risk that we might be exposed to in our quality controls, do we have a proper succession plan to make sure we always great leadership to take the organization to greater heights. How do you take part in mentoring others?

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We have a formalized structure for our younger professionals and is working efficiently, effectively and monitored regularly and closely. We need to put more emphasis on mentorship for our Junior Directors as we have a gap in terms of creating and planning for proper succession plans. If you had to relate a couple of experiences, what would be the highs and what would be the lows of your working career? A high would be the Telkom IPO and the merger between SizweNtsaluba and Gobodo. I was part of the team led by our CEO Victor Sekese that concluded the transaction that led to an Actuarial discipline at SNG. A low would be the capable Directors that we lost over the years. Lows are when the quality control processes are not the level that they are supposed to be, that affects me directly, so it remains a low. What accolades have you and your organisation received recently? SNG won numerous awards with regards

to the fastest growing firm for several years. SNG has been one of the medium sized firms in South Africa to produce the highest number of Chartered Accountants for years. How has the firm fared in terms of achieving its business growth objectives? The business has grown substantially over the years, more recently with the SNG - Grant Thornton merger. This merger is exciting in that it will also allow us to make significant in-roads and penetration into the private sector – we have gained favour in terms of medium-sized firms and JSE listed entities. Several banks for instance like Nedbank, SASFIN, and African Bank have asked us to present our credentials, this is a step in the right direction and possible growth. Through what means does the organisation ensure that the firm maintains high level of ethics and integrity? We have on-going workshops that instill ethical behavior and we get it into our professional’s minds through courses that we pay for and run. These processes are monitored closely, so we have constant coaching, skills sharing, and nurturing of our younger professionals. Is transformation considered a key objective at the firm, and if so, how is it attended to? Transformation is in our DNA, we have strategic initiatives that promote this, we are lacking in terms of women in leadership positions, but we have set targets that we will endeavor to achieve soon, particularly young black professionals. The pool of talent reflects the view that black economic www.theafricanpro.com

empowerment is not a mere obligation but a key business imperative. Kindly highlight some recent contributions by the firm to the community and to the relevant professions your professionals are a part of. SNG Grant Thornton supports the SAICA Thuthuka Programme with fulltime bursaries and we buy text-books for those recipients. We have adopted a couple of schools and have those learners come to SNG Grant Thornton for job shadowing purposes and we have a knowledge session and we our professionals share information on the career options in the profession we are in. We support lecturers and tutors at the Walter Sisulu University in the Eastern Cape to guide learners who are interested in our profession. How does the firm ensure that professionalism and good customer service are upheld? Clients give feedback directly, we have a client liaison director who deals with key critical matters like technical correctness, feedback does form part of our performance appraisal. When you not at work, what do you get up to, where can people follow you online? I enjoy family life, I love spending time with my wife and four children. I’m a farm boy, so whenever I get a chance, I spend time in Mpumalanga with the family livestock. I thoroughly love and enjoy a round of golf, does keep me sane, my handicap is 9. People can follow me on Facebook and LinkedIn as Aaron Mthimunye.


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Life in South Africa’s economic hub is improving – but big challenges remain By Julia de Kadt and Alexandra Parker

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More than 14 million people live in South Africa’s economic hub, the Gauteng City-Region. That’s 25% of the country’s population.

has climbed slowly but steadily since 2011. In addition, in this survey people showed greater tolerance, as well as a much stronger sense of community.

A lot of media reporting and public discussion about Gauteng is negative. Service delivery protests are common, high crime rates worry residents and the province’s economy is under pressure.

The research

These challenges are real, and play a big role in people’s lives. But new research from the Gauteng CityRegion Observatory (GCRO) suggests there’s a more nuanced story to tell about Gauteng. Data collected for the observatory’s fifth Quality of Life survey (2017/18) reveal that, in many ways, Gauteng residents’ lives are improving. Overall quality of life in Gauteng is getting better. An index based on the data, measuring quality of life out of 10,

The GCRO is an independent research organisation, which generates data and analysis to help inform development and decision making in the Gauteng City-Region. It is a partnership between the provincial government, organised local government, the University of the Witwatersrand, and the University of Johannesburg.

more than 240 questions, about a third of which were unchanged from previous iterations of the survey. In this way, we are able to gain insights into how the province has changed over time – and can see that there have been significant, often positive shifts in how people view the quality of their lives. Of course, problems remain: more respondents report experiencing crime, and a growing proportion don’t believe that trust is possible across race groups. The latest data offer a vital resource for understanding Gauteng’s multi-faceted challenges. It is also a useful way for the government, policy makers, academics, civil society and ordinary people to start coming up with creative solutions.

The survey involved 24 889 adult residents of Gauteng, with a minimum of 30 respondents in each of the province’s 529 wards.

Quality of life in the province

The latest survey collected a wealth of complex data. Respondents answered

The research measures quality of life by more than just material factors

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“Of course, problems remain: more respondents report experiencing crime, and a growing proportion don’t believe that trust is possible across race groups. The latest data offer a vital resource for understanding Gauteng’s multi-faceted challenges. It is also a useful way for the government, policy makers, academics, civil society and ordinary people to start coming up with creative solutions…” like household income and access to basic services. As with similar major international projects, less material, more subjective factors – opinions and feelings about governance, community, family and individual well-being– are also considered. A total of 58 variables were selected to generate an overall Quality of Life index. These covered ten dimensions: global life satisfaction, family, community, health, dwelling, infrastructure, connectivity, work, security and socio-political attitudes. This index provides a simple but strongly multi-dimensional score out of 10, where “0” indicates lowest quality of life and “10” the highest quality of life. Gauteng’s Quality of Life index score has shown sustained improvement over the past four iterations of the survey. It has risen from 6.02 in 2011 to 6.30 in 2017/18. This suggests that overall quality of life in Gauteng is improving over time.

Protest, crime and safety The proportion of respondents who participated in a protest in the previous year has doubled from 4% in 2013/14 to 8% in 2017/18. A quarter of respondents reported protest in their community in the past year. Of these protests, 90% involved some form of violence. Most were related to frustrations around service provision - particularly electricity.

Despite these negative results, 81% of respondents reported feeling safe in their homes, an encouraging rise from 75% in 2015/16. The proportion of respondents who felt that crime was the biggest problem in their community dropped from 37% in 2015/16, to 32% in 2017/18.

Economic concerns Meanwhile, national economic challenges and growing inequality also affected Gauteng’s residents. Satisfaction with the government’s efforts to grow the economy dropped to 19% (2017/18) from an already low 23% in 2015/16. Nearly one in four respondents lived in a household where someone – an adult or a child – had skipped a meal in the past year because there wasn’t enough money for food. This is a substantial increase over previous years, and one felt disproportionately by the province’s poorest residents.

local public schools, 65% reported that they were satisfied with them.

Social cohesion and tolerance Positive trends included respondents being substantially more trusting of their communities. Tolerant attitudes are spreading: the proportion of respondents who believed violence towards gays and lesbians is acceptable has dropped to 8% from 15% in 2015/16. The proportion who believed all foreigners should be sent home has dropped from 23% to 17%. This is particularly encouraging given the province’s history of xenophobic violence. However, a greater proportion of respondents believed that black people and white people would never trust each other – up from 58% (2015/16) to 64% (2017/8).

Scope for improvement

Satisfaction with government itself, and basic services like water, sanitation and energy, had increased since 2015/16. However, satisfaction with key social services had fallen. For instance, 65% of those who used public health care were satisfied with the services they received in 2015/16. This dropped to 57% in 2017/18.

Inequality is one area that needs to be examined: life appears to be improving most rapidly for the more advantaged members of society. White people, and individuals with high incomes, have the highest quality of life – and their quality of life appears to be improving most rapidly.

In terms of public education, 9% of respondents with school-going children reported that they had no local public school. Of respondents who did have

Multi-sectoral work is needed to tackle this and other issues, and to ensure that Gauteng offers a good life to everyone who calls it home.

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Breeding confidence & courage from experience gained to benefit others By Mzukona Mantshontsho

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STRENGTH, INTEGRITY, PASSION (SIP) PROJECT MANAGERS have been leaders in the field of Construction Project Management in South Africa. SIP employs highly skilled project managers from a broad range of professional disciplines with experience across a wide range of sectors. SIP is

the single point of contact for the client when dealing with all other parties. The South African Professional Services Academy spoke to Charles Israelite about his personal, professional and entrepreneurial journey.

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What inspired you to join the profession? The initial motivation to undertake project management was frustration with the efficiency of delivery of the Construction Industry. Projects were fraught with unnecessary costly delays which at that time (1975) was exacerbated


by high interest rates and inflation which was not being appropriately managed by the industry. This changed the way that projects were required to be delivered, in that, the total time a project was reduced to an absolute optimal minimum by the overlapping of design, authority approvals, tender process and construction as much as practicable to ensure successful and timeous delivery. We were pioneers in Fast Track project delivery which effectively placed us on the cutting edge and maintained the drive and excitement in all that we were involved in. We created and formalized the profession of Construction Project Management in this country in a unique inspiring and value add way. What does it mean that your colleagues have entrusted you with your recent position at SIP?

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My position is not recent as our organization has grown organically in response to the demand for Project Management Services and the way we provide such services. We came to realise early on, that a project cannot be managed by a naïve junior but required a dedicated qualified Director and support team to ensure that all the project requirements are dealt with, effectively and timeously. This led to our organization being horizontal in its structure, in that every project requires a Director to take responsibility for the service and project delivery with each project having a dedicated support team. Being ‘top’ became prudent to manage the business in a similar manner in that the more mundane and less exciting aspects of the business being the administration and financial control needed to be managed without creating a burdensome overhead cost component which affects the market related costs of providing the service. Age also had an impact on who took responsibility for the management of the business of the business so that responsibility fell on the senior members of staff to contribute to the running of the business whilst generating income by running projects

as well. At no time whatsoever in my forty-year involvement with the company was I not responsible for running at least one project. The other Directors together with our Financial Director help administer the business and undertake the necessary marketing for the essential new work that is required to keep us going. Given the cyclic nature of our industry, continuity of work is always a challenge and the senior directors all have an important role to play in that regard. What would you like to have achieved when you retire? The only end in sight is my inability to continue being effective in what I am doing and probably given the coming downturn facing our industry this could bring on an appropriate time to restructure our organization slightly to facilitate my reduction in involvement which would probably start with focusing entirely on the administration and marketing to a point where the other Directors are comfortable in moving on without my involvement. I have already achieved my ultimate objective which was to establish a recognised professional Construction Project Management Profession and company having pioneered the need for the service in the first place. The formalization of this, eventually started in 2000, when the Minister promulgated the Acts governing the council for the Built Environment 9Act 43 of 2000) of which one of these was the requirement to recognise Construction Project Management as a profession and to regulate the requirements and competencies required for such registration. To this end, I was appointed by the Minister as a councilor for two four-year periods from 2004 to 2012 during which we managed to have the work required to be undertaken by such professionals and, the determination of the necessary competencies required by the individuals undertaking such work, to be determined to ensure professional, ethical, and consistent service delivery www.theafricanpro.com

by registered Construction Project and Construction Managers. Persons now practicing the profession are required to be registered as having a certain minimum competency based on both academic as well as experiential learning (4 years plus 4 years) with a requirement of proving Continuous Professional Development (CPD) every five years. How would you describe your management and leadership styles? Our profession is the provision of Management and Leadership of people in relation to the industry that we are in, via the services we offer. This comes through in the way we manage our business. Being in the service industry, our people and the quality of our people are our primary asset and hence the management and leadership is one of breeding confidence and courage from the experience gained to maximise the benefit to the individual, our company and our clients which becomes synonymous with who we are. SIP is a credo for who we are and how we do things. This is an exciting and motivating aspiration which we all live by and as one of the leaders of the organization this is portrayed in all I do to inspire all our staff. It is lead by example in the most empathetic and definitive way which is the commitment of all our Directors. The recognition of potential combined with the provision of early opportunity to individuals supported with mentoring assistance is the practice which all the senior Directors in our company. What makes you tick or keeps you awake at night with respect to your position? The biggest challenge to our organization is continuity of fee-paying work. It is essential that we don’t grow too large and that we can keep all our key staff gainfully employed on fee earning work. The extent of ‘risk’ work that we are required to undertake is getting larger and more extended before projects are formalized as the authority’s

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approvals are far too slow and the bank requirements in respect of funding are very extensive and time consuming in that at least 70% of the income stream needs to be secured before the project finance is made available. All professionals are expected to work on the risk that the project goes ahead, up until the bank releases the funding. The cyclic nature of the industry is being exacerbated by the inability of the Government Sector plagued with an inept and corrupt procurement process. The public sector should be employing an anti-cyclic policy to maintain the continuity of demand in the industry. If managed properly, the construction industry would be the largest employer of unskilled and semi-skilled labour in an environment of growing unemployment.

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The other difficulty is that through naivety and desperation, professionals are cutting their fees on the off chance that the project will go smoothly and no problems, that may be time consuming, will be incurred. Unfortunately, with the general levels of competence consistently dropping in the industry from the client base through the consultants and the contractors and sub-contractors the challenges on the projects are growing in extent and consequence which converting the property development opportunities into an extremely highrisk bracket for all parties concerned. The lack of proper training and skills in the industry from apprenticeships, professional mentoring and client naivety is creating a massive risk profile for all players in the industry. This is now reflected in the spate of insolvencies and financial problems manifesting themselves in the industry. The large national contractors are taking strain and allowing foreign companies to get work via their competitive edge on skills and efficiency. Unless some groundbreaking initiatives are implemented our industry will be overcome through export contracts being awarded by our naïve

politicians to foreign companies from China and other countries. How have you taken part in mentoring others? Mentoring is an essential part of our operation as the necessary skills to effectively project manage construction projects is fundamental to the value of our service. The most relevant and essential skills for project management are derived from experiential training. Practice as opposed to theory is the essential differential to competence. We have implemented a formal mentoring process into our organization that ensures that all staff are sensitive to the need to mentor and to be mentored. Our biggest assets are our people and the level of their skills and competence is synonymous with the capabilities of our company, so mentoring is an on-going essential component of our operation which amounts to the protection of our assets and hence it’s the responsibility of all our personnel. If you had to relate a couple of experiences, what would be the highs and what would be the lows of your working career? I believe that one of the watershed projects that we undertook was the Lost City Project in Sun City. The primary participants were overseas professionals that Sol Kerzner employed as he wanted to ensure a cutting-edge World Class iconic resort and source the services of the best designers in their field in the World. Not only was the detailing cutting-edge and World Class but our local consultants and contractors were able to rise to the occasion and deliver the unique aspect of this project in record time. The intensity of involvement from all parties was essential in ensuring the successful and timeous completion of a project that in today’s value would be over R5Billion delivered in 36 months. The project was split into four sections and we employed 12 full-time project managers on the project at peak. It www.theafricanpro.com

was essential that all principals were intimately involved, ready, willing, and able to deliver on time, to the requisite quality and within budget. Since then, no project has been too large and too challenging for us to tackle. The only lows of my time at SIP would be when we had to restructure and downsize the organization due to lack of continuity of work. As our business operates essentially on cash-flow being fees in and salaries out, we have of necessity adopted an employment policy of “last in first out” due to the unique skills which our people develop being the obvious essential requirement of protecting our primary asset which is our most skilled people. What notable accolades have you and your organization received? SIP has received a substantial number of accolades in respect of our project delivery and are pleased to say that we keep on accumulating every year. These are fleeting and egotistical in nature, the most important accolades and ones that we cherish are those that specifically recognise the value that we have added to our projects that manifest in our company being recommended by our fellow consultants and clients for the next or future projects that they are involved in. The repeat client is a client that we really cherish, and we endeavor, on every project to leave a lasting observation that we have contributed to the efficiency and successful delivery of the project. Our primary value is just that we are continuing to strive for the perfect delivery for our clients on all projects. How has the firm fared in terms of achieving its business growth objectives? Business growth in the context of our operation is limited to the control we have within our organization to ensure that our quality service delivery is always maintained. This


is directly related to the capacity that resides in our senior members of staff, effectively our Directors. No project will be undertaken unless there is an appropriate Director capable of taking full responsibility for the running of that project. Our Directors are like minded individuals steeped in the SIP culture and aspirations. The growth of our organization is thus directly related to the number of Directors capable of running the projects in accordance with our demanding criteria. These are invariably people who have made the appropriate progress in our organization and reached the level of Director having proved their ability in this regard. Our primary concern is quality of service delivery and not the size of or turnover or the number of people that we employ. If we do not have the capacity, we will rather turn away work than take on work that cannot be adequately resourced to ensure maximum quality delivery which will be firstly made available to our regular and loyal clients. Through what means does the organization ensure that the firm maintains high level of ethics and integrity? The best way to ensure this is the example set by the senior members of staff and to stress the importance of moral and professional behavior during the mentoring process. In addition to becoming registered as a Professional Construction Project Manager (PrCPM), all registered individuals have effectively taken oath, at the risk of being removed from registration, to abide by the ethics called for by the Council (SACPCMP) which deals with all of the morality issues that face professionals. Is transformation considered a key objective at the firm, if so, how is it attended to? Transformation should be a key voluntary objective of every citizen of this country which should render the legislation that has been introduced as

superfluous. The legal obligation being imposed on individuals and companies is now starting to have the opposite effect as it is becoming extremely expensive and almost impossible to satisfy which is promoting racialism and prejudice which is taking us back into reverse apartheid. South Africa is the only country in the World where a substantial majority is finding it necessary to legally force the minority to protect the majority through legislation. This will unfortunately fail in the long run due to the resulting promotion of people and organisations into positions of incompetence which is now already yielding the failing results to an alarming scale!! Kindly highlight some recent contributions by the firm to the community and to the relevant professions your professionals are part of. Having been a pioneer and creator of this ‘new’ profession, we have since the early nineties, created the structures and wherewithal for the creation of clones of our organization that have been nurtured via their exposure to us and the mentoring and experience that we have imparted to a point where they can, and have, successfully competed in a market that we have created on a sustainable business. We have not only taught the fisherman how to fish but where and what to fish to ensure success.

consultants in the industry including the specific scope of services for the core disciplines in the industry which has become a widely used document acceptable to most developers and professional indemnity insurers. How does the firm ensure that professionalism and good customer services are held? We have an on-going and intense mentoring programme and the objectives are clearly captured in our Vison, Mission and Philosophy as follows: Our Vision: To consistently build on our reputation for being the most unique, cutting edge construction project management organization which serves clients with clear goals and positive attitude, delivering an unparalleled quality of service, with smart, innovative solutions sustaining our position as leaders in the industry. Our Mission: To provide superior professional services, giving clients the confidence that their needs will be consistently met due to the reliable delivery of their expectations, utilizing our combined experience, knowledge and expertise developed over 40 years. Our Philosophy: To strive for excellence in everything that we do with strength, integrity, passion and absolute dedication to every project. To always be relied upon, to always be leaders. What values do you hold dear and why?

I was appointed by The South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) as Chairman and the Professional Client Consultant Service Agreement Committee (PROCSA). I am proud to say that with the support of the Committee representing SAPOA, The South African Institute of Architects, The Association of Construction Project Managers, Association of South African Quantity Surveyors and the South African Black Technical and Allied Careers Organisation, we successfully published generic guideline Agreements for the appointment of professional www.theafricanpro.com

Our core values are Integrity, Passion, commitment and Professionalism. We value teamwork and the trust and confidence placed in us to deliver projects as effectively and efficiently as possible in respect of all the circumstances prevailing.

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Culture and Identity: 5 African Proverbs for African Professionals Author: Patrick Mpedzisi & Shupikai Gwabuya for Mitupo.org

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Quote: “One who is afraid of bees never gets to eat honey....� Have you ever wondered why some people appear inauthentic and fail to grasp the concept of professionalism in an African sense? Or have you ever been confused as to why some consider professionalism a synonym for western values or traits? What are the tenets of African professionalism? As with most other regions, it begins with knowing oneself and gleaning the positive attributes of your identity. Using simple and familiar language and techniques, we are better able to understand ourselves and determine what and how to borrow and learn from others in order to improve ourselves. Over some

time mitupo.org has compiled resources that enable us better understand our environment and bring out the best of who we are. This article serves to demonstrate how the use of something simple as traditional African proverbs can illustrate that we have always had professionalism and a strong work ethic. Ngu ma tira ozonyutji, outji ken a kurya (Herero) The literal meaning of the proverb is, one who is afraid of bees never gets to eat honey. In order for one to access the honey, they inevitably have to get past the bees which will seek to sting them. The proverb highlights the linkage www.theafricanpro.com

between a peril/risk and opportunity. It advises that one may never achieve anything if they are unwilling to take the risk. It is similar to the English saying no pain, no gain. Kubaya tange hama kuti vatorwa vakutye (Shona) Explained literally, this proverb means that if one is to kill/stab someone, they must start with their relatives so that strangers may fear them. This is based on the practice of chiefs who, in enforcing the rules of the land, would first ensure that all those close to them abided by those rules. Once people notice that, even the relatives and close relatives are subject to those rules, they


begin to respect the leader. The central lesson is that one earns respect as an impartial superior when their followers get to know that even close associates are expected to follow the same rules. Evuka muva ibanjwa yizinja (Ndebele) In its literal sense the proverb means dogs will catch the animal that rises late. Based on the hunting expeditions of our ancestors where dogs would be let loose on small antelopes, the proverb observes that it is the antelope that reacts late (or slowest) that is most likely be caught and killed. In this way the proverb underscores the importance of not being left behind by moving early with the rest of the pack. When opportunities present themselves, not all of us are able to see and act on them to our advantage. The key lesson here is that as professionals we must always be alert and act promptly lest our gains are endangered or an opportunity is lost due to late response.

Okwatira kwa phenzi saopa kung’amina (Chichewa) Loosely translated, the proverb means that one who gets married to lightening must then not fear light. This relates to people who court danger or trouble - they should be ready to face the consequences as they arise. In much the same way, as professionals we should be responsible for the consequences of our actions. Inversely that means we should not court danger unnecessarily. The English equivalent of this one is as you make your bed, so must you lay in it. Guthekererwo ni andu ti kuririrwo ni hiti (Kikuyu) Literally this proverb means that being laughed at by other people is not like being wept for by hyenas. The meaning of this is that one must bury their pride and do what may be laughable to others but is necessary for their survival. People often develop a certain pride and fear being mocked yet such mocking

does not kill them. In the event that they lose out on the key gains, they stand to face greater humiliation. Simply put it is better to be laughed at than to die. These randomly selected proverbs from an ever-growing bank of more than 300 proverbs demonstrate, the level of insight our ancestors had over different areas of life. We have for years underestimated our history and traditions and have unintentionally sabotaged the dynamism within ourselves. We have for a long time undervalued ourselves and always come second best by emulating values and principles that are sometimes alien to us, when there is an opportunity to be best. Proverbs are just one example. We had philosophers, folklore and fables, etc. that shaped or socio-economic systems and political systems. The challenge for African professionals is to be symbols of authenticity that can embrace modernity through inspiration from their identity and culture.

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Leadership with intent – Donovan Chimhandamba By Mzukona Mantshontsho

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“I have learnt organizations at different life stages of development require different types of leadership styles. As DIDG is an early stage company, you will find that I have had to deliberately be more entrepreneurial in approach and be less structured in some cases. So, while I think that my style is more participatory, my focus is more goal driven and maybe a bit tough on colleagues around quality and speed of delivery of work…” The DIASPORA INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT GROUP (DIDG) is a company founded in 2016 and incorporated in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Though the DIDG was started and spearheaded by Zimbabwean Diasporas based in South Africa, it now has a diaspora followership of more than 2,500 with 50% being resident in South Africa, 20% in Zimbabwe while the rest are spread across countries such as UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Botswana and Namibia. The DIDG’s principle motive is to establish ways that will unlock foreign capital inflows and know-how towards the development of Zimbabwe’s critical infrastructure and drive the privatisation of critical infrastructure assets in partnership with Government. The South African Professional Services Academy spoke to Executive Chairperson at the DIDG Donovan Chimhandamba about his personal, professional and entrepreneurial journey. Tell us your brief history: academic, professional and your role TODAY Following the passing of the Zimbabwe National Diaspora Policy in 2016, 13 of us Zimbabwean diaspora based in South Africa formed the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group now commonly referred to as DIDG. As Zimbabwean diaspora, we embarked on a journey that aims to aggregate and crowd-fund diaspora capital into the development of Zimbabwe’s critical

infrastructure such as water, rail, road, air, energy and ICT. This was at the back of the realization that us as diaspora have been the largest contributor to foreign financial inflows into Zimbabwe as we on average we remit in excess of $3bn to Zimbabwe.

propelled me to start my own Private Equity and Venture Capital company called Arkein Capital Partners in 2011. This I did so with Anglo-America’s mining community Trust Fund where I managed their R9 billion Trust Fund on their behalf.

I was born in a little town called Karoi, lived in Mhangura at the copper mine where my father as a qualified metallurgist was working as a Plant Manager. I did my “O” levels at Zimuto Secondary school, enrolled for Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry for my “A” levels at Kwekwe High School and found my way to National University of Science and Technology (NUST) where I completed my first degree in Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering in 2003. Later on in 2006 I completed my MBA with the University of Pretoria’s business school called Gordon Institute of Business Science commonly known as (GIBS).

Arkein Capital is the company that I operate from and we have seeded some of the projects we are proud of such as our $350m Richards Bay project called Nyanza Light Metals, which will beneficiate titanium slags to produce the highly sought-after paint ingredient called titanium. More recently we seeded and co-founded the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG), which jointly with Transnet recently won the $400m tender to recapitalize and rehabilitate the National Railways of Zimbabwe.

In terms of my career, my breakthrough was my first job on graduation in 2003, where I got employed by Engen Petroleum refinery in Durban as an Industrial Engineer. From there on, I progressed to work in senior management roles for blue chip companies such as PPC, Vesuvius International, Group Five and then became a Private Equity and Project Finance professional when I became the Head and Fund Manager at the National Empowerment Fund. The urge to become my own boss www.theafricanpro.com

What does it mean to you that your colleagues have entrusted you with the position of Executive Chairman? It is a big responsibility which I take quite seriously as most of my colleagues have left the comfort of their paying jobs to focus on delivering the vision of DIDG. As the Chairman, my duty is to develop a bigger and strategic vision for the DIDG, communicate that vision, and clearly define and demonstrate a path to victory that will result with DIDG having a sustainable business model. My experience with a few startups in the past has come in quite handy

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as it helps me guide the organization through the sometimes very difficult and challenging times that start ups encounter at the early stages. What would you like to have achieved by the end of your term? In the next five years, I would like to see DIDG transform from being an early stage development company to becoming a fully corporatized entity and be known as the leading infrastructure development and management company in Zimbabwe managed by Zimbabweans. How would you describe your management and leadership styles?

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I have learnt organizations at different life stages of development require different types of leadership styles. As DIDG is an early stage company, you will find that I have had to deliberately be more entrepreneurial in approach and be less structured in some cases. So, while I think that my style is more participatory, but my focus is more goal driven and maybe a bit tough on colleagues around quality and speed of delivery of work. At this stage of the business we are at, I like to surround myself with people that are more hands on, people that speak with authority and can self-manage through a task. So, I would say my leadership style driven by the circumstances surrounding the survival of our business and adjusts with scenarios. What makes you tick or keeps you awake at night with respect to your position? We have around 2500 members in the diaspora who have interest in DIDG directly and indirectly. I cannot disappoint these people who have entrusted me with this responsibility. Also, DIDG serves a bigger purpose. If successful it will be the catalytic organization that inspired more Zimbabweans in diaspora and at home

to roll up their sleeves and become part of the solution to rebuild Zimbabwe. If we fail, most diaspora will not be convinced that they can be part of the project to rebuild Zimbabwe. So, all stakeholders from government, private sector and citizens are watching closely. So, fear of failure keeps me awake as I would have not only failed my fellow shareholders but would have failed Zimbabwe at large.

as the future leader of infrastructure development in Zimbabwe and the region. Through what means does the organisation ensure that the firm maintains high level of ethics and integrity?

How do you take part in mentoring others?

We follow our internal governance processes as guided by King IV codes. We have quarterly reporting cycle that set the tone for the more comprehensive annual reporting.

I am a firm believer in people learning in service either shadowing me or having real life assignments.

Is transformation considered a key objective at the firm, and if so, how is it attended to?

If you had to relate a couple of experiences, what would be the highs and what would be the lows of your working career?

I would not say transformation is our priority objective. Our primary objective is to find ways for all Zimbabweans in the diaspora to participate in the rebuilding of Zimbabwe’s critical infrastructure. So, this is inclusive of all races and tribes.

The highs would be when I worked as operations general manager and had 400 employees reporting directly to me. I got to understand that people are happy in the work environment when they are successful and are made to participate in their growth. My lows would when I was at Group Five when the venture I was part of was stopped through legal means and I had put all my resources there, my family life was affected, I had to find another job to rescue my situation. What accolades have you and your organisation received recently? DIDG was awarded the Largest New Entrant of the Year in 2018 through the work we did at the National Railways of Zimbabwe. How has the firm fared in terms of achieving its business growth objectives? We are creating business for the future in terms of developing and managing rail infrastructure. We have made significant progress and we believe by the end of 2019 we will see DIDG emerge www.theafricanpro.com

Kindly highlight some recent contributions by the firm to the community and to the relevant professions your professionals are a part of. We reached out to the Cholera Awareness Programme in Harare and assisted where we could. We assisted an orphanage home in Bulawayo. How does the firm ensure that professionalism and good customer service are upheld? We speak to our clients, we have moved away from shelf solutions. We sit down and develop solutions with the client and that’s how we get buy-in from everyone. When you not at work, what do you get up to, where can people follow you online? I love spending time with family and playing golf though these days DIDG is making it impossible for me to find time for golf.


Running the practice by Consensus – Guy Steenekamp By Mzukona Mantshontsho

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LYT ARCHITECTURE (LYT) performs a wide variety of design related services and inclusive disciplines: Architecture, Master Planning, Product Design, Interior Design, Graphic Design, Model Building, Upfront Consulting, Principal Agency and Project Managent, all in the built environment space. LYT as in “Lightness” encapsulates the culture of design, the light in design, the work done and the joy in what the practice does. LYT combines the former TPS Architects, The Portal Partnership and Facets Interiors into a single entity offering over 50 years of combined professional practice and expertise.

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LYT is a highly experienced and diversified professional practice dedicated to excellence in architecture, design and providing the highest quality service. LYT’s portfolio includes commercial, industrial, transportation, retail, educational, residential, hotel and leisure projects as well as numerous projects for the mining industry. While most of the work is in South Africa, LYT is extremely active all over Africa, particularly West Africa, serviced through the branch office in Lagos. The South African Professional Services Academy spoke to CEO at LYT Architecture Guy Steenekamp about his personal and professional journey in the practice. Tell us your brief history: academic and professional to your role Today I am a Johannesburg boy, did my primary and high school at Sandown. I always had a passion and skill for drawing and liked the arts. I did preliminary work in terms of research and through the help and encouragement of Senior Lecturer at Architectural History Professor Dennis Redford, I did architecture at the University of Witwatersrand followed by compulsory military service for two years. I joined RFB Consulting Architects and was there for seven years as a Director when I left to join TPC

Architects. When I joined we did The Grace Hotel, now know as 54 on Bath, relocated the JSE Stock Exchange to Sandton and then the Turbine Square development for Anglo Gold Ashanti. What does it mean to you that your colleagues have entrusted you with the position of CEO? We were more of a monarchy than a democracy before when we were three partners. I was designated into the CEO position at the age of 47 – in architecture when you in your 40’s, you are only beginning, so I had to grow into the position. Thankfully, I have been able to bring everybody along into a shared vision and a company strategy. Together we have managed to move the practice from a mid-tier practice to one of the top architecture practices in South Africa and the rest of the continent. What would you like to have achieved by the end of your term? We are a properly constituted practice, so my position is performance based. The Board of Directors and the nine shareholders review and assess my performance on an annual basis. We’ve had a pretty great run over the last few years, you might want to call it a ‘mini-boom’. The impetus came from companies renewing leases, especially in Sandton with the introduction of the Gautrain and the positive sentiment, which abounded after our survival of the 2008 economic crash and the 2010 World Cup. With the technical recession that we face currently as a country, my task is to see us through these trying times. You always need fresh vision and direction in any business, so one must remain agile in thinking and create a proper succession plan for younger and new executive directors to take the organisation to greater heights. How would you describe your management and leadership styles? I can be a ‘control freak’, though www.theafricanpro.com

in essence we run the business by consensus. Tasks around human resources, administration and BBBEE are delegated within the leadership group as well as financial management of the practice. The best ideas win, and those ideas could come from anybody, regardless of ones experience in our practice. I’d like to think I have an opendoor policy – we have a flat structure in our culture and that for me allows for creativity to prevail in the space. The most junior professional is free to come to come to my office, make suggestions and new directions we can take. What makes you tick or keeps you awake at night with respect to your position? I am passionate about design and conceptualization, imagining a new South Africa for everybody through projects - that really excites me. I love helping people and teaching others. Real learning comes in the work environment. The shrinking economy is a real concern with Stat SA having said we are in a technical recession. While we have an amazing project pipeline, projects are slow to come to fruition with the institutions being slow to invest. How do you take part in mentoring others? I am actively involved in the mentorship, coaching, nurturing and teaching of our younger professionals. We actively seek out collaboration and interaction with our colleagues from other practices so we all learn - we have managed to create a learning space for our teams and we learn from each other and re-enforce our profession. If you had to relate a couple of experiences, what would be the highs and what would be the lows of your working career? I am extremely proud of all the projects we have taken part in. In our industry, no one person does the project alone.

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“We are a properly constituted practice, so my position is performance based. The Board of Directors and the nine shareholders review and assess my performance on an annual basis. We’ve had a pretty great run over the last few years, you might want to call it a ‘mini-boom’. The impetus came from companies renewing leases, especially in Sandton with the introduction of the Gautrain and the positive sentiment…” Successful projects require hundreds of people working towards the same goal. We don’t work in silos, we work together to achieve our targets, so it’s always a team effort. The lows would be the stress that comes with running a business, human resource concerns and controlling the finances of the business to have a sustainable practice. What accolades have you and your organisation received recently? We’ve received several SAPOA Awards for best projects for the PwC Tower building at Waterfall recently, and in the past we were recipients of similar awards for Turbine Square, 1 Sandton Drive and Exchange Square. Most recently we received the best leisure interior accolade at the global property awards in Dubai. How has the firm fared in terms of achieving its business growth objectives? Our practice has grown in numbers from 40 to over 100 professional staff and our revenues have trebled in the years following 2013. Given the challenges we face as an industry and the economy it’s a testament to our company culture that this has happened. Through what means does the organisation ensure that the firm maintains high level of ethics and integrity? Our Directors live by the King IV codes and policies of effective and efficient

corporate governance, our approach is from top-down and very rigorous. Coaching happens on an on-going basis so that we get it right with our professionals and our clients are taken into our confidence on how we do business. When we get things wrong, top executives must take strict responsibility and accountability because they stand to gain more when things are going well. Is transformation considered a key objective at the firm, and if so, how is it attended to? At LYT transformation is embraced and it happens organically. We are completely colour and gender blind in terms of hiring. In terms of our scorecard, we are BBBEE Level 2. In terms of women empowerment, we have hired the brightest women professionals and we don’t believe in pay-gaps. We have a balanced-mix in terms of women leadership and have the highest number of women working here. Kindly highlight some recent contributions by the firm to the community and to the relevant professions your professionals are a part of. LYT is actively involved with the postgrad students at Wits University, we assist them with coaching, nurturing and assisting them with their practical side of the course. I personally mentor two emerging practices currently, to help them strategise and grow. We have taken up joint ventures with emerging practices to assist with all the skills and www.theafricanpro.com

expertise they need to sustain their businesses. We have powerful networks that we share with all we interact with, so that we have an inclusive and caring practice, it’s not just box-ticking! How does the firm ensure that professionalism and good customer service are upheld? Our technically competent and experienced Directors and our reputation over the years has earned us a reputation for being the go-to practice. When clients present us with challenges, we respond with a fundamentally a ‘can-do’ approach. Our location at the Melrose Arch allows us to host our clients and they have access to all our professionals and we can have an interactive space where we come up with solutions that work – this makes all the difference. We create wealth for our clients, we create strong relationships, we create a seamless easy process that everyone wants and which works. We never say ‘NO’, we give solutions, our responses are always “if we had A, B, C and D’ the project can be done. When you not at work, what do you get up to, where can people follow you online? I am always at work though I enjoy a round of golf now and then. I entertain quite a lot, love travelling overseas when I can. I am not big on social media personally, people can follow the work we do at LYT on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and our website.

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Diverse leadership teams make more balanced decisions – Hein Boegman By Mzukona Mantshontsho www.theafricanpro.com


PwC has a purpose to build trust in society and solve important problems. PwC is a network of firms in 158 countries with more than 250,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. In Africa, PwC employs approximately 10,000 staff in 17 countries and some 66 offices bringing appropriate local knowledge and experience to bear and use the depth of their resources to provide clients with a professional service, specifically tailored to meet their requirements. The South African Professional Services Academy (SAPSA) spoke to Hein Boegman, CEO for PwC Africa, about his personal, professional and entrepreneurial journey thus far. What inspired you to become a chartered accountant? I don’t come from a family of chartered accountants – my father, in fact, was a naval officer and a military pilot. A cousin of mine inspired me to become a CA. From a young age, I knew that the CA qualification is broad based and will give you global access. What does it mean to you that your colleagues have entrusted you with your current position in the organisation? It is a humbling experience to be elected by one’s 400 partners across Africa to serve in such an influential role. They are effectively putting their trust in you. Serving as Africa CEO of one of the Big – Four has been a great honour and a challenge and opportunity very few get. What would you like to have achieved by the end of your term? At a firm like PwC, reputation is

everything – and upholding that under my watch is what keeps me awake at night. We have been reminded of this in the harshness with which you get punished if society loses trust in you. Secondly, an integrated, cloud-based platform that is a cost effective and efficient backbone for our business. As part of our digital transformation strategy, we embarked on a series of projects, such as implementing Google, Oracle Cloud, Salesforce and Workday. Technology enables us to be connected, agile and innovative in engaging the market, supporting our people, and collaborating to offer the best of our collective thinking in a seamless way. How would you describe your management and leadership style? As I reflect on my career progression, I can think of countless examples of people who inspired and shaped me. At the age of 27, I left the shores of Africa for the first time to go to PwC New York for two years – it was a huge experience, both professionally and personally. It probably was an inflection point in my career; understanding for the first time what it is like to interact globally. I was pleasantly surprised that as South African professionals we could compete with the rest of the world. I came back more experienced, but certainly wiser in the ways of life – and that has served me well in the 30 years since my return. I would describe my leadership style as ‘inclusive’. Diversity and inclusion are close to my heart and I truly believe that diverse leadership teams make more balanced decisions. I have been very fortunate to be given many opportunities to hone my skills. I have always believed that, if I have some level of personal relationship with someone, I stand www.theafricanpro.com

a much better chance of getting the best out of them, while leveraging their particular skills sets. What makes you tick or keeps you awake at night with respect to your position? Our values and behaviours are critical. We strive for a culture in which our values are demonstrated through our behaviour every day. In the decisions that we make, how we have conversations, and how we serve our clients. This is what gives me the ability to sleep better at night. It’s important to me to know what our people feel about the firm’s values, and what keeps them engaged at work. One of the ways in which we do this is through Values Surveys and our annual Global People Survey. This latter survey measures our people engagement landscape and our people’s awareness of and buyin to our organisational purpose. The survey findings provide insights to leadership on areas of strength, as well as those requiring attention. How have you taken part in mentoring others? I take particular pride in mentoring others, both within and outside of the firm. I am a firm believer in promoting from within where possible, and one of the ways of achieving this is through mentoring. Our organisation is all about people. When I can help someone else and contribute to his or her success, it makes me feel good. In a people business, the biggest contribution one can make is to invest in future talent. I have been the sponsoring partner for more than 30 partner candidates. It gives me great pride to see how they have flourished in their respective careers. If you had to relate a couple of

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experiences, what would be the highs and what would be the lows of your working career? Being a CEO is often a thankless job – but also gives one a great sense of achievement. Not many get this opportunity and it is an honour. You need to motivate yourself, your partners and your people, regardless of the obstacles, and ensure the utmost integrity. The absolute highlight is to see how people develop and blossom given opportunity – in a peoples’ business there can be no greater achievement than helping someone else develop and succeed.

PwC’s brand is important for its growth and sustainability. The Brand Health Index (BHI) compares the strength of the PwC brand with that of its competitors across territories and lines of service. The BHI is commissioned by PwC and conducted by a third-party research agency. PwC South Africa was placed first in the most recent BHI results. We invest significantly in formal and experiential learning and development initiatives with a focus on the development of ACI staff. For the past five years, ABASA has recognised PwC for qualifying the largest number of historically disadvantaged CAs annually.

What notable accolades have you and your organisation achieved?

How has the firm fared in terms of achieving its business growth? www.theafricanpro.com

PwC continues to grow globally and now employs more than 250,000 people. For the financial year ended 30 June 2018, the firm achieved impressive growth in global revenue of 7%. Revenues were up across all PwC’s operations, boosted by continued significant investments in quality, new technologies, services and talent. The increasing complexity of business, the emergence of new technologies, the regulatory environment and increasing stakeholder interest have driven demand for our broader assurance services, particularly in areas such as cyber security and privacy, advanced data analytics, as well as enterprise systems solutions. Companies are seeking broader digital solutions and insights to


address governance, compliance.

risk

and

Through what means does the organisation ensure that the firm maintains high levels of ethics and integrity? Our Governing Board and leadership teams set the ethical tone from the top. It is a role we take very seriously, particularly in the current global and local operating environment, which has seen trust being eroded. Trust underpins everything we do at PwC. Our reputation is one of our greatest assets, and we can never sacrifice this for short-term gains. Is transformation considered a key objective at the firm, and if so, how is it attended to? Transformation is a key strategic priority and goes beyond legislative and social compliance – it is our social licence to do business and the absolutely right thing to do. As a part of the PwC global network, PwC South Africa is responsible for helping to empower all the people of our country, starting with our staff. We strive to be a transformed firm that represents the demographics of South Africa and to create an environment that will enable growth and economic empowerment for all our people. We monitor and discuss performance against agreed objectives with oversight by a dedicated Transformation Committee, which is a key subcommittee of our Governing Board. We continue to make good progress in our transformation journey across all pillars of the transformation charter. In addition, we are a Level 1, AAA+B-BEE contributor. This top rating places PwC in a strong position to offer clients added value. The firm is also involved in several initiatives to drive transformation in the profession and grow the

number of CAs in the broader economy. Despite sluggish growth in university graduate numbers, we have approached an average intake of 60% ACI graduates for the past two years. The firm has also invested in several initiatives to nurture future leaders. Our dedicated Consulting, Deals, Forensics and Risk Assurance Graduate Programmes expose a wide range of talented young graduates from various disciplines to various operational disciplines within our business and provide them with opportunities to be mentored by senior managers, directors and partners. Highlight some recent contributions by the firm to the community and to the relevant profession your professionals are part of. PwC has significantly invested in a number of corporate responsibility initiatives as a component of promoting socioeconomic development. Some of the highlights of our corporate responsibility initiatives include the Faranani Rural Women’s Training Programme, PwC’s Leadership Development Programme and the support we lend to the Business Skills for South Africa Foundation. We also contribute to the education sector by supporting schools and their surrounding areas in disadvantaged and rural communities. We have a payroll-giving initiative – Umbono – that provides our employees with an opportunity to initiate and support charitable projects by enabling them to donate money directly from their salaries. Respecting the environment is a key responsibility for our firm and we are excited by all the energy, water, lighting and recycling innovations that have been included in our existing buildings, in particular at our new efficiency trend-setting Gauteng office in Waterfall City.

www.theafricanpro.com

How does the firm ensure that professionalism and good customer service are upheld? It is important that we maintain the highest quality standards and that our level of integrity remains above reproach. Without the trust of our clients and other stakeholders, we would not be a sustainable firm. The last two years have seen our profession come under unprecedented scrutiny by the media and other stakeholders. This media coverage has resulted in some uncertainty in the market. One of our core values is ‘act with integrity’, and we are committed to living this through our robust governance structures and systems. These enable us to manage the risk associated with new client acceptances, and the continuance of existing clients. What values do you hold dear and why? To me, integrity and trust are critical values. By leading through living these values, I can espouse and enact integrity that will hopefully make its contribution in building lasting trust.

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Business is a catalyst for social change – Isaac Shongwe By Mzukona Mantshontsho

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fricanpro.com www.theafricanpro.com


We need to value diversity and team work; we need to value ethics and assist government where we can to serve its people. I see business as a catalyst for social change and am engaged in many social activities principally focused on the development of values-based leaders throughout the African continent. How would you describe your management and leadership styles?

LETSEMA, founded in 1996, is a leading black-owned and managed consulting company in South Africa.

Tell us your brief history, the academic, professional and entrepreneurial journey thus far

From that platform, Letsema created an investment company that has helped build several successful companies of long standing. Letsema spent many years building its competency in rail, including work with state logistics and freight company Transnet, to become experts in the sector. It is now a multi-faceted business containing its Consulting, Investments and Foundation divisions, with the latter being particular close to Shongwe’s heart.

I grew up in Alexandra Township, after my mother had passed on at a young age. I was educated at Wesleyan University, a liberal arts college in Connecticut, in the United States and Oxford University in the United Kingdom, where I studied as a Rhodes Scholar and obtained an M.Phil. in Management Studies.

The South African Professional Services Academy spoke to Isaac Shongwe, the Founder and Chairman of Letsema, about how he and his team focused on building a values-based, long term, buy and hold investment company. Shongwe demonstrated his ability to innovate and grow businesses in challenging economic circumstances. In addition to his work at Letsema, Shongwe played a leading role within Barloworld for a period and was one of their first black executive directors. Shongwe has worked extensively in several countries in Africa and has a widespread network across the continent.

What inspired you to become a management consultant and found Letsema? Letsema was a by-product of my upbringing. Starting this business was my way of occupying a space and giving back to others as I was also given a chance. I am a product of other people’s generosity. There was a need to be an ethical person and be a source of good. So, my idea was to start a business with a conscience and do good to address the imbalances of the past, being poverty, inequality and unemployment. This is why one of Letsema’s three legs is the Letsema Foundation. Its focus is addressing the imbalances in our society through helping others. We need to re-visit and re-think development. www.theafricanpro.com

I know being a manager is not one of my strengths. I find the right people and empower them enough to run with the business and I am not one to micromanage. I want people that will buckle up and get the work done, people with a burning desire to succeed and do well. What makes you tick or keeps you awake at night with respect to your position? I am passionate about enabling others and reducing the poverty that we are faced with as a country. I want to help others educate themselves, instill good values and for those who we help to pass on those learnings to others. How have you taken part in mentoring others? I am the Co-Founder of the African Leadership Initiative (ALI), which is part of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, which is focused on the development of effective, values-based leaders in Africa. To date, ALI has produced 339 Fellows from South, East and West Africa and Mozambique. If you had to relate an experience, what would a high be for you from your life and working career? My highlight would be growing up in Alexandra Township and ending up studying at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

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Through what means does Letsema ensure it maintains high levels of ethics and integrity? Whenever we face temptation in business, it is important to look inward and ask ourselves, “Why are we here? Why do we do what we do?” A business without a purpose is rudderless, and our purpose at Letsema is to be a catalyst for social change through the work we do. Critically, those values come from the top. My business partner Derek and I understand if we as leaders are not authentic about our purpose, how can our employees be? We lead by example. Is transformation considered a key objective at Letsema, and if so, how is it attended to? Transformation is in our DNA. The work we do through the Letsema Foundation encourages transformation

across different levels. We are currently offering office space to a few NGOs and assist them strategically so they can fundraise. We also, for example, assist child-headed households and vulnerable groups in our society. Transformation is not just a quantitative object within business but a qualitative necessity at every level of our society. Kindly highlight some recent contributions by Letsema to the community and to the industry your firm operates in. Education is key pillar of the Foundation, with leadership, arts & culture and vulnerable groups being its other focus areas. A few examples of the Foundation’s work include our support of the Itlhokomeleng Home for the Aged and Disabled in Alexandra Township, where I grew up.

In 2014, I founded the Young African Leadership Initiative, concentrating on developing the younger generation of African Leaders, aged between 25 and 35. We have also been working with the Hugh Masekela Heritage Foundation and the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. How does Letsema ensure that professionalism and good customer service are upheld? Apart from our internal Policies and Procedures Handbook that we have in place, as I said earlier, those who work in a business take their lead from their leaders. If good leadership, professionalism and high-quality service was a river, if the watershed is polluted, there is little chance that the river, by the time it reaches the sea, will be clean.

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HIRSCH WOMEN IN BUSINESS GALA DINNER

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The GRUNDIG sponsored, star-studded Hirsch’s Women in Business Gala Dinner at the opulent Emperor’s Palace in Johannesburg. Local celebrities and socialites dazzled and wowed the extravaganza as we saw them embracing the African Queen theme wholeheartedly. The event was attended by 450 top Johannesburg entrepreneurs, influencers and decision makers across a wide range of industry sectors. While this gala showcased women in business, it’s primary aim was to

raise funds for Subz Pads, a non-profit organisation that distributes reusable sanitary protection to young girls. GRUNDIG, together with Hirsch, used this prestigious event to acknowledge that the future in women empowerment lies in the lives of girls aged 13-19 who miss 25% of their schooling year due to not having any means to sanitary protection during menstruation. Grundig and the Hirsch’s Women in Business Gala Dinner, garnered the influence of the esteemed guests at the event to support this fundraising initiative that aims to reach 30 000 www.theafricanpro.com

young girls by 2020, and provide them with the opportunity to benefit from their education. GRUNDIG’s spokesperson, managing director, Mr Evren Albas said that GRUNDIG was excited to be part of this event that celebrated and praised the empowerment of women. “Women are our target market and we are privileged to have been part of acknowledging both women in positions of power, as well as those that are disadvantaged.” says Mr Evren Albas.


Sanctions are being lifted against Eritrea. Here’s why By Martin Plaut

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The United Nations Security Council is about to lift an arms embargo and targeted sanctions against Eritrea. UN Security Council resolution 1907, which was passed in 2009, noted that the Eritrean government was backing Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia government as well as other movements attempting to undermine the Ethiopian state. The sanctions were strengthened over the years, particularly following Eritrea’s refusal to resolve its border dispute with Djibouti in 2011.

The Eritrean government has routinely denied allegations that it armed these groups. To bolster its case it has pointed to the assessment of long-time ally, former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Herman Cohen, who declared that: All accusations against Eritrea regarding alleged assistance to the Islamist terrorist group Al-Shabaab in Somalia have never been substantiated. The Security Council established an expert monitoring group to report on www.theafricanpro.com

the evidence of Eritrean activities. Over the years it has produced extensive reports, running into hundreds of pages. These gave the council plenty of reasons to ratchet up its isolation of the country. So what’s changed? There have been three fundamental shifts. First, evidence that Eritrea is supporting Al-Shabaab has becoming increasingly thin. Second, the country is no longer as isolated as it used to be. Finally, the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea has changed the region’s dynamics.


The evidence The monitoring group’s 2011 report was particularly important in presenting the case of Eritrean involvement in Somalia and its backing for Al-Shabaab. The experts obtained what the monitors described as firm evidence of Eritrean support for armed opposition groups throughout the region, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and the Sudan. Support for these groups also involves Eritrean diplomatic, intelligence and PFDJ-affiliated networks in Kenya, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere. The monitors went on to say that the: Government of Eritrea acknowledges that it maintains relationships with Somali armed opposition groups, including AlShabaab, but characterises these linkages as political (and, in one particular case, as “humanitarian”), while denying that it provides any military, material or financial support. Evidence and testimony obtained by the Monitoring Group, including records of financial payments, interviews with eyewitnesses and data relating to maritime and aviation movements, all indicate that Eritrean support for Somali armed opposition groups is not limited to the political or humanitarian dimensions. The monitors’ description of training facilities was said to be based largely, but not exclusively, on interviews with more than 100 former members of six armed opposition groups, including: • • • • • •

Al-Shabaab Hisb’ul Islam/Somali Islamic Front Hisb’ul Islam / ARS Asmara Ogaden National Liberation Front Oromo Liberation Front, and Front Pour le Restauration de la Démocratie

In an appendix to the report the experts provided details that backed

their conclusions. These including photographs of the groups undergoing training and details of a planned attack by the Oromo Liberation Front on the African Union Summit in 2011.

What did sanctions do? The sanctions were always limited in their scope. They sought to halt weapons supplies and to impede key government officials’ travel plans and economic interests. Eritrea complained that the sanctions resulted in real harm to its economic interests. In reality, however, the impact was weak. Eritrea managed to use its network of contacts among the diaspora around the world to evade most of their effects. They were nevertheless an irritant, suggesting as they did that the government was a pariah state. This, together with the government’s record of human rights abuses, resulted in scathing findings by the UN Commission on Human Rights.

Behind the lifting There are three reasons for the ending of sanctions. Firstly, the UN accepted some years ago that there is no longer evidence of Eritrean support for al-Shabaab. Secondly, Eritrea has broken out of international isolation. It is now a key ally of Saudi Arabia and the UAE in their war in Yemen. Eritrea provides bases from which both operate. Europe, too, has embraced the Eritrean government. This is an attempt to halt the flow of Eritrean refugees across the Mediterranean and into Italy. Thirdly, and most importantly, there has been a reconciliation between the formerly warring parties in the Horn www.theafricanpro.com

of Africa. The breakthrough came from an initiative by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Dr Abiy Ahmed, who ended hostilities with his neighbour. His visit to the Eritrean capital, Asmara, in June received a huge popular welcome. This was followed by visits by Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki to Addis Ababa and finally to a tripartite meeting between the leaders of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. In the past Somalia and Ethiopia were – along with Djibouti – the main proponents of sanctions against Eritrea. Now that they’ve reconciled, international support for UN sanctions has evaporated.

What’s next? The Eritrean government is likely to celebrate the lifting of sanctions as a major achievement. But their problems will not be at an end. Unlike neighbouring Ethiopia, the Eritrean government has not introduced a programme of democratic reforms or improved its human rights. The opening of the border with Ethiopia has resulted in thousands of Eritreans streaming out of the country. Up to 500 are crossing daily into Ethiopia. Nor will all pressure on the Eritrean government end. The US continues to list Eritrea as among the worst states for religious persecution. As a result, Washington will continue to deny visas to a range of senior Eritrean government officials. Other nations, such as the Netherlands, may also maintain a range of measures. In the long run, however, the response of the Eritrean public will determine just how significant a moment this will be for President Afwerki and his government.

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CESA Aon Awards creating legacies and honouring legends in the quest for engineering excellence

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The first ever CESA Lifetime Industry Achievement Award was presented posthumously to Ivor Evans, one of CESA’s past presidents who had served the industry with enthusiasm and passion his entire career. In order to promote the Consulting Engineering industry to young professionals, CESA recognises the contribution young engineers make to the industry and to the future of the profession. The winner is afforded an opportunity to attend the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) Infrastructure Conference. Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) sponsored the Young Engineer of the Year Award. The winner in the category of Young Engineer of the Year is Shamiso Kumbirai from Aurecon with Ntseuoa Motsieloa from Bosch Projects receiving a commendation. The category for Engineering Excellence with a value greater than R250 million was won by Aecom for the Construction of the Cape Flats 3 Bulk Sewer - Phase 2 with HHO Consulting receiving a commendation for the Upgrade of the N11 Section 10 from Middelburg to Loskop Dam.

The category for Engineering Excellence with a value between R50 million and R250 million was won by Aurecon for the Sol Plaatje University Library and Student Resource Centre. Commendations were awarded to Knight Piésold for the Rehabilitation of Main Road between Atlantic Road, Muizenberg and Clovelly Road, Clovelly - Phase 3; and to Royal HaskoningDHV for the Grayston Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge. The category for Engineering Excellence with a value less than R50 million, was won by Hatch Africa for the Tugela River Pedestrian Bridge with Naidu Consulting receiving a commendation for the Widening of the Tongati River Bridge. In the category of Best International Project, sponsored by the Built Environment Professionals Export Council (BEPEC), SMEC South Africa was announced as winner for the Sydney Metro Cable Stayed Bridge with Knight Piésold receiving a commendation for the Von Bach Dam Asphaltic Seal Replacement. Knight Piésold won the Business Excellence category with BVi Consulting Engineers www.theafricanpro.com

receiving a commendation. Naidu Consulting won the Mentoring Company of the Year, sponsored by Bosch Holdings with Knight Piésold receiving a commendation. Infraconsult Engineering was recognized as Small Company of the Year. In an effort to promote mentorship of young engineers CESA recognises the contribution Mentors make to the industry and the future of the profession. Graham Jennings from Knight Piésold is the Mentor of the Year. SANRAL is the Visionary Client of the Year. In recognition of the role that the media plays in the industry, Crown Publications received recognition for Publishing Excellence: Trade Publications and Tiso Blackstar publishers of Business Day received recognition for Publishing Excellence: Daily Newspapers. Knight Piésold was announced as the winner of the CESA Job Shadow Initiative with UWP Consulting as the 1st runner up and Hatch as 2nd runner up. CESA’s Limpopo Branch was named winner of the Branch of the Year Award.


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Create an environment where people will prosper - Wilfred Ngubane! By Mzukona Mantshontsho

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www.theafricanpro.com


NGUBANE&Co.CharteredAccountants was established in 1995 as an accounting and auditing firm. Its service offerings have since grown to include financial advisory, forensic investigations, business and IT consulting. This black owned multidisciplinary professional services firm is driven by commitment to deliver best services, with every member of the firm committed to a career and lifestyle of discipline, balance, continual learning and goal orientation. The South African Professional Services Academy spoke to Founder at Ngubane & Co. Chartered Accountants, Bhekabantu Wilfred Ngubane, about his personal, professional and entrepreneurial journey since 1995. What inspired you to join this profession?

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At the time when I started school at Msinga, where I was born, the community standard of measure of being educated was the level where one was able to write and read letters written to distant relatives, more particularly those local men who worked in Johannesburg. This is the service that we provided to the community with great joy since we got exposed to all the breaking news and some confidential information, e.g. reporting to husbands that “umakoti useqiwe izinyanga ezimbili� Looking back, I always realise how lucky one was to pursue schooling beyond that standard of measure, up to a high school level. I was introduced to bookkeeping by my ex high school mate who was working as a trainee work study officer for a motor assemblies’ firm, looking at the salaries for advertisements in the media for pay packages of accountant was a further motivation factor to resolve to study for the accounting qualification. What does the role of Founder mean to you in the organisation? I am priviledged and humbled by

the role we play in availing training opportunities and indirectly creating employment to yound and aspiring black professionals who come from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. It is encouraging to see people providing for themselves and for others.

to get the best. It is a concern that our education system does not produce the same quality of post matric candidates even though it is the same education system. Is the majority of people who come through our education system employable?

What would you like your legacy to be at retirement?

How have you taken part in mentoring others?

My wish is for the firm to continue growing and become a firm which, when future generations look at it, they bow in humility when they think or read of the background of the forefathers who built. One would like to have a firm that leaves a kind of similar impression you get when you look at and read about the pyramids of Egypt.

We have a structured programme where people are linked to certain mentors. Regular feedback is encouraged at regular intervals. I sometimes do public speaking to encourage younger professionals to think of starting their own initiatives and empower themselves. I do encourage our senior officials to open up to the younger generation about their experiences and knowledge over the years, this goes a long a long way in creating a learning environment and skills exchange.

How would you describe your management and leadership styles? My role is to create an environment where people will prosper. I have a complementary leadership where our professionals are supported, be it administratively or strategically to achieve our company goals, objectives, and have a sustainable business. What makes you tick or keeps you awake at night with respect to your position? Everyday is a new day for me, literally. Whilst we have short, medium, and long-term plans, I believe in practicing the work hard today to ensure you are in business the next day. I always compare our nature of business to the life of a bird, which even if there is so much fruit on one tree at a specific time, it can never take the fruits away for storage. Similarly, every year we have challenges, the tender processes, we need to be on the pulse to get work given the challenges in our economy and the global economic challenges. We must be at the fore-front of any socioeconomic changes. We are faced with diminished quality of professionalism in our space and we need to figure out ways www.theafricanpro.com

If you had to relate a couple of experiences, what would be the highs and what would be the lows of your working career? A definite high is the over 250 employees we have since we started Ngubane & Co. in 1995. The lows for me would be between 2005 and 2006 when we lost 4 directors in the firm That was a big blow, such is life. The greatest beauty of time is that it heals. How has the firm fared in terms of achieving its business growth objectives? We have grown over the years, but we want to have a balanced scale in terms of having 35% of our work come from the private sector and 65% in public sector. This will assist us spread our work load evenly throughout the year. We are working on re-branding Ngubane & Co. that should be very interesting to allow for our growth and success over the years. Through

what

means

does

the


organisation ensure that the firm maintains high level of ethics and integrity?

community and to the relevant professions your professionals are a part of.

We are taking our code of ethics seriously so that our employees don’t take this for granted. We endeavor to make ethical behavior a lifestyle of every employee of Ngubane. We are working on making values like the prayer in everything we do.

We make it a point that we support those that are still studying to improve their skills with funding and giving them space when they need it during examinations and study breaks. We financially support a Makeke Rehabilitation Centre in Tembisa monthly. We are passionate about CSI projects in education, health and women issues:

Is transformation considered a key objective at the firm, and if so, how is it attended to? By default, the very nature of our business supports those individuals in our society that were denied and deprived of opportunities. We are not there yet, but we are doing our best to bring our women on board in terms of leadership positions because it is our strategic commitment. Kindly highlight some recent contributions by the firm to the

• A Daycare in Alexandra, and Madimanlou Farm School. How does the firm ensure that professionalism and good customer service are upheld? We work with people and for people consequently there are times when some disagreements and complaints arise. When such happen, we do our best to resolve such without delay to

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keep our clients happy. We do thorough evaluations of the work that is done by our employees o to ensure quality work is delivered. What values do you hold dear and why? Chasing money has become a secondary priority, I am for the creation of opportunities and hope for others to help others and our communities to grow. When you not at work, what do you get up to and where can people follow you online? I am a casual runner in the mornings, we spend time at the movies and church with my wife as our four children are old and live on their own. Visit the Ngubane & Co. website for business updates of the work we do. I am getting all the help I need to run my personal Twitter account, watch the space!


WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AFRICAN?

IN AFRICA, YOU AREN’T AN ADVOCATOR OF QUALITY. YOU ARE A MASTER OF IT. African fashion is more than a global benchmark for haute couture: it exists in the skies, the streets, the ideologies and ways of life. And like it, the people are vibrant. Their beauty is absolute. They are the perfect harmony. We are more than just an airline. We are African first. We are a proud carrier of its hopes, its dreams and its unlimited potential. If you are going places, so are we. Fly SAA. BRINGING THE WORLD TO AFRICA. TAKING AFRICA TO THE WORLD.


Question the existing Imagine the impossible

Create the enduring wsp.com


KINGJAMES 42480

Why is building things that last, so last century? There’s a light bulb in a fire station just outside San Francisco that’s been burning bright for 117 years, over a million hours and counting. Which makes you think, if we can make things that last, why don’t we? And shouldn’t we? Especially in a time when the world needs it most. At Sanlam, we still believe in this way of thinking. That’s why, for the last 100 years, we’ve been hard at work building financial futures, lasting legacies and a world others will soon inherit.

For generations to come Sanlam is a Licensed Financial Services Provider.

The African Professional Issue 33  

The African Professional Issue 33 featuring Zakhe Khuzwayo, co-founder of InnoVent

The African Professional Issue 33  

The African Professional Issue 33 featuring Zakhe Khuzwayo, co-founder of InnoVent