Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has taken the gloves off in the contest to become the nation’s next leader, delivering a scathing speech criticising “the rot” and widespread patronage plaguing the ruling African National Congress.

Ramaphosa stopped short of openly declaring his candidacy to succeed President Jacob Zuma, 75, in a speech on Sunday, but his address left no doubt that his campaign is now firmly under way. He made several thinly veiled attacks on Zuma, who’s indicated that he’s backing his former wife and mother of four of his children, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, for the top post.

Dlamini-Zuma, who’s spent the past few weeks traversing the country drumming up support while guarded by the presidential protection unit, took an early edge in the race to succeed Zuma as ANC leader in December while Ramaphosa had run a subdued campaign, said Ralph Mathekga, an analyst at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, a Johannesburg-based research group.

“It’s becoming clear that he wants the position of party president,” Mathekga said. “He’s become more decisive and could inflict damage to the campaign of Zuma’s preferred candidate.”

A lawyer who co-founded the National Union of Mineworkers, Ramaphosa, 64, helped negotiate a peaceful end to apartheid and draft South Africa’s first democratic constitution. He lost out to Thabo Mbeki in the contest to succeed Nelson Mandela as president in 1999 and went into business, securing control of the McDonald’s franchise in South Africa and amassing a fortune before returning to full-time politics in 2012 as the ANC’s deputy leader.

Gordhan’s firing

Appointed as the nation’s deputy president in 2014, Ramaphosa has spent much of his tenure defending the ANC and government in the face of a series of scandals implicating Zuma. He publicly disagreed with his boss for the first time this month after Zuma fired Pravin Gordhan as finance minister, prompting S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings to downgrade the country’s credit rating to junk.

In his speech delivered at a memorial service for the late South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani, Ramaphosa backed a recommendation by the former graft ombudsman that a judicial commission investigate if members of the Gupta family, who are friends with the president and are in business with his son, unduly benefited from state contracts and tried to influence Cabinet appointments. Zuma and the Guptas have denied wrongdoing.

“The allegations that there are private individuals who exercise undue influence over state appointments and procurement decisions should be a matter of grave concern to the movement,” Ramaphosa said. “These practices threaten the integrity of the state, undermine our economic progress and diminish our ability to change the lives of the poor.”

Mcebisi Jonas, the former deputy finance minister who alleged that the Guptas offered him a promotion in exchange for preferential treatment, also spoke at the memorial service.

‘Pretend rules’

ANC rules discourage members from openly lobbying for leadership posts, and say they should await nomination from its branches before declaring their availability. Several senior party leaders have called for the regulations to be changed.

“We know those are ‘pretend rules’ and nobody actually plays by them,” said Susan Booysen, a professor at the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Governance. “The rules are there to protect the incumbent and their chosen successor.”

The ANC has won more than 60% of the vote in every national election since it took power in the first multiracial one in 1994, placing its next leader in pole position to become the nation’s next president in 2019 when Zuma is due to step down. The party will hold its internal elections at a December 16-20 conference in Johannesburg.

Anger, disappointment

“Ramaphosa realises that this is the moment to come out because there is general support for him and it comes in the context of anger and disappointment and people wondering why on earth he has not come out to declare his candidacy,” Booysen said.

Ronnie Mamoepa, Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, said he couldn’t comment on party matters.

Dlamini-Zuma, 68, had an early edge in the succession battle, according to 11 of 26 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg on February 13 and 14, while 10 put Ramaphosa ahead, and five said the contest was too early to select a front-runner.

Ramaphosa still faces major obstacles in his bid for the ANC’s top job. While he’s received the support of the main labour federation, Dlamini-Zuma has the public backing of the ANC’s Women’s League and part of the party youth league, and can expect the endorsement of three premiers of three rural provinces known as the “premier league” who are allied with Zuma.

Marikana killings

There was a public uproar in 2012 when Ramaphosa made a failed R19.5m bid for a buffalo cow and calf at a game auction, a move opposition parties said was scandalous given the country’s enduring poverty.

The killing of 34 protesters by police at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine in 2012 following days of violent strike action also dented Ramaphosa’s image. While he called the labour action “dastardly criminal” in an email a day before the shooting and urged police to take “concomitant action”, a commission of inquiry cleared him of wrongdoing. A company he led had a stake in the mine.

Under Zuma, the ANC suffered its worst electoral performance since the end of apartheid in municipal elections in August, losing control of Pretoria, the capital, and the economic hub of Johannesburg.

While Ramaphosa still needs to build his support base, the fact that he’s made it clear he’s in the race should bolster his chances, according to Mathekga.

“People can see he is a real option,” he said.

By Amogelang Mbatha and Mike Cohen for www.fin24.co.za

CNA’s next move

Embattled Edcon company CNA has taken a new tack in a bid to generate revenue and keep customers coming through the doors by opening a Digital pop-up store on one of its larger premises in the Cresta Mall in Johannesburg.

A recent article by Hilton Tarrant for Moneyweb highlighted the plight of CNA:

CNA has become an awkward appendage, made more clear when one reads the Edcon financial statements. The group’s retail division is split into two segments: ‘Edgars’ and ‘Discount’. The latter is Jet and Legit, while the former is everything else, including the foreign brands it has launched in the country, like Topshop, River Island, and T.M. Lewin.

And then there’s CNA. Edcon CEO Jürgen Schreiber told Business Day that it’s considering the sale of “non-core stores”. There’s a lot of “non-core” in Edcon, including Boardmans and possibly Red Square, but surely CNA is first on that list?

Truth is CNA was never enough of a book shop to be a book shop. Or a toy store to be a toy store. Or a stationery outlet to be a stationery outlet. The only thing it was ever really good at was being a news agent. The huge variety of magazines available on its shelves was unmatched. But it’s 2015. Traditional news agents are either extinct or on the endangered list.

A foray into mobile phones and laptops seemed to be one bright light a few years back. But CNA never carried the breadth and depth of product to make it an obvious must-stop.

Perhaps CNA has revisited this idea with its new digital pop-up shops.

SA’s most complained-about bank

The banking Ombudsman has released its annual report, revealing which South African bank drew the most customer complaints in 2016.

According to the ombud there were a total of 5,219 cases opened against 17 different banks, over 74% of which were officially closed during the calendar year.

The majority of complaints (over 50%) were fraud related in some way. In these complaints, the complainant is overwhelmingly the victim of a scam. There is no maladministration on the part of the bank, according to the report.

Similarly, with debt-stressed complainants, the ombud found that there wass also no maladministration on the part of the bank, and complainants are simply looking to their banks to ameliorate their debt repayment obligations.

Most complained-about bank

As the biggest bank in South Africa by number of clients, it stands to reason that Standard Bank drew the most complaints during the year. However, when looking at the complaints as a portion of its banking clients, Standard Bank still takes the top spot.

Standard Bank boasted 11.8 million customers in December 2016, up from 11.6 million the previous year. More interesting is that the country’s second biggest bank (8.8 million clients) was only the 4th most complained about bank finishing behind both FNB (7.7 million) and Capitec (8.3 million).

How many complaints are resolved?

There was a slight drop in the number of cases found in favour of complainants for the year under review.

In the majority of cases (75.8%), the ombud found in favour of the bank, compared to 16.6% that were held in favour of the client, while just 0.2 withdrew their complaints completely.

In 2016 the ombud received 205 more internet banking complaints than in 2015. Interestingly, the majority of the internet banking complaints were related to cellphone banking, which increased by 7%. This suggests increased cellphone banking activity, but also a need for greater security, said the report.

There was also a 3% increase in credit card complaints. A staggering 36% of all credit card disputes were charge back disputes, where some element of fraud was alleged. This equates to a 16% increase year on year for this subcategory.

Source: www.businesstech.co.za

Motorists one of junk’s first victims

A fuel price increase will be the first major expense to hit South Africans as a result of a weaker rand‚ the Automobile Association of SA (AA) has warned.

The AA’s mid-month data forecasts that petrol will rise 55c a litre in May‚ while diesel will cost about 30c a litre more. Illuminating paraffin will cost an estimated 41c a litre extra.

The fuel-hike predictions are based on unaudited mid-month fuel price data released by the Central Energy Fund.

“The loss of confidence by investors and the sovereign ratings downgrades by ratings agencies Fitch and S&P‚ have led to the rand slipping against the US dollar‚ down from around R12.35 at the beginning of the month to its current position of around R13.40‚” said the AA’s Layton Beard.

The AA said the rand’s weakness largely contributed to the expected fuel price increase‚ with hikes in international petroleum prices accounting for the balance.

“However, there is no certainty that the impact of the downgrades has been fully priced into the economy. The picture for May could be substantially different‚” Beard said.

By Suthentira Govender for www.businesslive.co.za

Several opposition parties have called for a new date for the motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma, which is due to be debated next Tuesday.

The UDM wrote to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete following a directive from the Constitutional Court on Tuesday regarding the UDM’s call for MPs to be able to vote via secret ballot.

The court granted the UDM access to argue the matter and allowed parties involved to file opposing papers. They had until Friday, April 21 at 16:00 to do so.

The UDM subsequently wrote to Mbete to propose that the motion be pushed to the week of April 25 to allow the respondents time to file their papers.

“An agreement between the parties should also entail this aspect,” the UDM said through its lawyers.

Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said Mbete had received the letter and would respond accordingly.

Parliament said it had received the court’s directives and would comply with the timeframes.

He said the court made no injunction regarding the motion of no confidence. It was still scheduled to take place in the National Assembly at 14:00 next Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Parliament said earlier on Tuesday that Mbete was not opposed to the principle of a secret ballot on such motions.

Mbete held no position on the matter, it said in a statement.

“Where the Speaker and the UDM disagree is in relation to the powers of the Speaker under the Constitution to make such a determination.”

The Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters on Tuesday also asked Mbete to postpone the motion of no confidence until after the Constitutional Court hears the matter.

The court’s decision to hear whether the vote could be done via secret ballot warranted a postponement from its current April 18 date, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said.

In a separate letter, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu said the Constitutional Court case could have a direct bearing on the nature and outcome of the motion.

Maimane added while Parliament waits a bit longer to debate Zuma’s fate, South Africans should join opposition parties as it marches to the Union buildings on Wednesday on Zuma’s 75th birthday.

By Thulani Gqirana and Paul Herman for News24

Pick n Pay has overhauled its Smart Shopper loyalty programme, halving the value of the cash rewards but saying it is making the rewards more personal and easier to access.

Early indications on social media are that the changes to the most popular customer loyalty programme in the country have not been well received.

Smart Shopper, which was launched amid much fanfare in 2011 and which was considered to be one of the more generous retail loyalty programmes, played a critical role in Pick n Pay’s turnaround by helping to lift top-line performance almost immediately. But it was less helpful to the bottom line.

From the start, management dismissed suggestions the programme was too generous to be affordable on a sustainable basis.

Sasfin Securities’ analyst Alec Abraham questioned the perception that the programme was overly generous. From the company’s perspective it not only drew in more customers, but provided critical stock-management information, he said. “The number of members was well above what management expected, but the rewards was a small price to pay for all the information the programme generated,” he said. The information was particularly important to Pick n Pay as it was in the process of switching to centralised distribution.

The overhaul — implemented last week with no fanfare — comes just weeks after the company said it was making R500m in price cuts on 1,300 items. Analysts say retailers are caught between offering discounts in tough economic conditions and protecting margins.

David North, group GM of strategy and corporate affairs, said on Monday that the group’s recent initiatives demonstrated the group’s commitment to giving customers more value.” When looking at the changes to Smart Shopper, customers can be assured that every rand and more is being given back to them through lower prices and more and better discounts.”

From March 30, Smart Shoppers need to spend R200 to get back R1. The previous rate was R1 back for every R100 spent, cutting the cash-back rate to 0.5% from 1%.

Management said a key feature of the overhaul would be weekly personalised discounts tailored specifically to individual Smart Shopper based on shopping habits. “With the new Smart Shopper, Pick n Pay will be offering 30-million personal discounts every week or three discounts per customer every Thursday for 10-million customers,” the company said.

The aim is to give customers more than R500 in personal discounts over the year.

Smart Shopper points already awarded are unaffected.

While shoppers are likely to be unconvinced by the touted benefits, investors appear happier. After closing weaker on Thursday and Friday, in line with the market, the share price closed firmer on Monday.

By Ann Crotty for www.businesslive.co.za

Thanks to Zuma, we’re junk

Last week’s shock cabinet reshuffle has tipped SA over the edge of the investment-grade cliff, with ratings agency S&P Global Ratings downgrading SA’s foreign currency rating to subinvestment grade, or “junk” status, on Monday evening, sending markets into a tailspin.

What does junk mean to the average South African?


Further downgrade imminent
Moody’s also put SA on review for a downgrade late on Monday, which suggests that a downgrade from the agency is imminent.
The ratings agency, whose next ratings review had been due only in June, departed from its schedule to do the downgrade, saying the executive changes initiated by President Jacob Zuma had put at risk the country’s fiscal and growth outcomes, increasing the risk of policy shifts that could be negative for economic growth and fiscal discipline.

S&P also put a negative outlook on the new BB+ rating, suggesting a further downgrade could be on the cards if it sees deterioration in SA’s economic or fiscal performance.

The rand lost almost 3% within half an hour of S&P’s announcement.
Source: www.businesslive.co.za

Office National to host charity race

The Office National X-treme Chair Race is here! Businesses in Gauteng and surrounds can participate in this new fun event with a purpose.

This race is the first of its kind in Johannesburg, debuting at Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit on the 13 May 2017. Each organisation can register a team of 10 racers or more, then pimp, modify and accessorize a non-motorised office chair. Join us on race day for a 200 metre relay of speed, style and stealth!

Office National Africa is introducing this event to raise awareness on mobility devices available and assist the QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA) in raising funds for wheelchairs and assistive devices. QASA strives to develop the full potential of quadriplegics and paraplegics nationwide.

Wihan Oosthuizen, MD of Office National Africa, says “The Office National X-treme Chair Race is important for awareness because it’s hard to believe that in this, day and age, there are parents who still walk kilometres carrying their child on their back to school. When they become too heavy, they are house bound because they don’t have a wheelchair and all efforts to get them educated are lost.”

He says Office National Africa was working with QASA to help identify quadriplegics and paraplegics who need a wheelchair.

“We are humbled to be beneficiaries of this event which enables us to extend our services of providing mobility aids, assistive devices and opportunities to our members. Events such as this give QASA an opportunity to highlight our projects and services and resource them appropriately. Great fun will be had on the day for a wonderful cause” says Ari Seirlis, CEO of QASA.

Office National along with FilpFile, Pentel and a host of other sponsors, will bring something more to the event than a single day’s worth of fun to participating businesses and spectators. Visit www.x-tremechairrace.co.za for more information on the Office National X-treme Chair Race.

You may have heard about the sword of Damocles, hanging above its target by a single hair. It’s a metaphor often used to describe impending doom, yet this is not the actual meaning. The story goes that a servant was taken by all of a king’s wealth and wanted to partake in that luxury. The king offered the servant supper on his throne, but with a sword hanging above him held by a single strand. Afterwards he asked the servant if he enjoyed the meal, but the servant was too worried about the sword falling.

The sword of Damocles is not about impending doom. It’s about the pressures of power and responsibility. Every business leader feels this, knowing that it takes only a few wrong decisions, or a dollop too much complacency, for disaster to land. Today this pressure is more poignant than ever. Change, as always, is in the air, only now it is happening at breakneck speed. The lifespans of companies are fast become shorter and even historic precedent fails to contextualise what is happening today.

Speed matters and technology is the means to accomplish that speed. Yet technology is not a fix. Any solution purchased to catalyse change is a waste of money. The real reason why companies fail to change and to shift into new spaces, is because they lack the right innovation cultures.

Innovation is a tricky principle to nail down, but it has a simple formula: Innovation = Execution x Creativity. Companies struggle to engage this dynamic, because they suffer from corporate cholesterol. These are the unwelcome fats clogging a company’s arteries: rigid processes, risk avoidance and complacency – anchored through faith in existing frameworks – all effectively suffocate a business’ ability to push forward.

Digital transformation has brought this problem to a head. But, as said earlier, technology is not the solution. Digital transformation is not a process. It is actually an end goal, a new state of business defined by a revolution in technology. Getting there requires transformation on a different level. A transformation that enables people.

Humans are key to innovation. It is human thought that creates new ideas and tests new opportunities. A common barrier for any transformation is a reliance on the familiar. Companies seek out to improve on existing solutions and discover ‘comfortable’ problems that can be turned in a familiar context. But real innovation means going where the business has not gone before – and for that, humans are crucial. The best AI can accomplish incredible things, but what it can’t do is be creative. Technology helps to amplify and augment humans, not replace them.

SAP stumbled upon this concept a number of years ago. In the early 2000s one of its founders wrestled with the company’s wayward direction. The exciting, customer-focus culture of SAP’s start up days – and which brought it success – had been replaced by a regime of prescriptive thought patterns. Then came the concept of design thinking.

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation. It helps companies be empathic around customer and business needs, use collaboration to bring functions and perspectives closer together, and aims to be highly iterative so to better understand and embrace the market. When you focus on people, processes and environments, you encourage creativity. Turn that into a scalable culture and you invite disruptive innovation, not the incremental innovation that translates to little new value.

Harnessing a Risk-taking culture is key. McKinsey, the same consultancy that helped change corporate thinking in the early 20th century, has noted that digital performance and positive risks are joined at the hip. This type of culture not only understands that exponential rewards come with increased risk, but that failure (at least fast failure) is a powerful learning opportunity. Just like learning to ride a bike – if you never fall, you will not know how to find ways to be better.

It’s interesting to note that delivering iterations, far outweighs the importance of delivering the perfect product. 3D Robotics, a drone company established by technology evangelist Chris Anderson, pulled out of its ambitious
drone-manufacture plans because it spent all its resources to make the ‘perfect’ drone. Meanwhile DJI, a Chinese company, used constant innovation to drive new products to market. Not all of DJI’s products succeeded, but its momentum held ground. Today DJI rules the drone space while 3D Robotics has exited this market altogether. Enable rapid innovation and you progress.

Design thinking creates a mindset to merge technological feasibility, business viability and human experience. This doesn’t just pertain to outward-facing products. Design thinking is as much about innovating internal processes and ideas. For example, creating new career paths facilitating a wider talent pool, requires a creative approach to what is important to a business.

I won’t claim that SAP has perfected design thinking, but it has done amazing things for the company. The goal of moving out of its stoic enterprise trappings is being achieved in unbelievable ways. We have engineered ground-breaking new products, created a workplace for a very diverse workforce, and realised digital transformation by becoming a real-time data-driven business. I’m not pitching a product here. I am stating that without design thinking, SAP may today be facing extinction. Nobody is immune from this.

We have since realised the value of bringing this message to our customers and offer free insights into how design thinking can help an organisation. The sword of pressure hangs over every business leader. Instead of worrying if it will fall, you can find confidence in a new philosophy that will change your company’s creative and innovation cultures. If you are worried about your business tomorrow, look at design thinking today.

By Brett Parker, MD – SAP Africa at SAP

.africa is here

DotConnectAfrica’s (DCA) legal battle to stop the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (ICANN) delegation of the .africa generic top level domain to the ZA Central Registry (ZACR) finally came to an end at the Superior Court of California where the court denied DCAs application for a preliminary injunction against ICANN.

According to Bernadette Versfeld, a Partner at Webber Wentzel, it means that ZACR is now the official registry operator of the .africa generic top level domain. It will be launched in three phases:

• Sunrise Period (4 April 2017 – 2 June 2017) – during the Sunrise Period trademark owners can secure domain names matching their registered trademarks before .africa is made available to the general public. The registered trademarks must first be validated by a Trade Mark Clearing House (TMCH). Alternatively, and specifically for the .africa gTLD , a system called Mark Validation System (MVS) will be used to validate trade marks which are not yet registered, company names, trust names and common law trade marks (as well as registered trade marks for trade mark proprietors who do not wish to validate through the TMCH)
• Landrush Period (Phase 1 = 5 June – 9 June; Phase 2 = 12 June – 16 June; Phase 3 = 19 June – 23 June; Phase 4 = 26 June – 30 June) – this registration is open to everyone around the world without any restriction, but the registration is sold at a higher price than the regular price.
• General Availability (4 July 2017) – registration will open to the general public and works on a “first come, first served” basis.

“The .africa generic top level domain is an essential domain name extension for any business trading in Africa. It is anticipated that the .africa domain name extension will be in high demand and businesses are advised to include this domain name extension in their branding strategy. The cost of registration is minimal compared to the risks of failing to register,” Bernadette concludes.

 

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