Report of the Presidential Task Team

Report of the Presidential Task Team established to investigate the non-delivery and/or delays in the delivery of Learner, Teacher Support Material (LTSM) in Limpopo schools

5 Oct 2012

The President appointed the Presidential Task Team to investigate the non-delivery and/or delays in the delivery of Learner, Teacher Support Material (LTSM) (textbooks and stationery) in Limpopo schools in the 2012 school year.

The task team has provided a report and has made wide-ranging recommendations aimed at both solving the problem at hand and preventing future occurrence.


On 5 December 2011 Cabinet took a decision to invoke Section 100(1)(b) of the Constitution to remedy the service delivery weaknesses in the Limpopo Departments of Education, Health, Public Works, Roads and Transport, as well as the Provincial Treasury. A national Co-ordination Mechanism chaired by the Minister of Finance, including the Ministers of Health, Basic Education, Transport, Public Works, Justice and Constitutional Development, Higher Education and Training, and the Public Service and Administration, was established to oversee and monitor the process of implementation.

The practical effect of Section 100 (1)(b) is that national government assumes the executive obligations of the relevant provincial departments, effectively placing the relevant provincial departments under the administration of national government through the appointment of Administrators.

In the case of the Limpopo Province, Administrators were appointed for the following Provincial Departments: Education, Health, Public Works, Roads and Transport, and Treasury supported by the relevant National Departments, as well as the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and National Treasury, who are playing a key role in coordinating the intervention to enable the relevant departments to meet their constitutional obligations.

The Presidential Task Team comprised the Deputy Ministers of:

  • Finance as Chairperson;
  • Basic Education as member;
  • Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs as member;
  • Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation as member; and
  • Public Service and Administration as member

The findings

1. What were the causes of the non-delivery and or delays in delivering of LTSM to affected Limpopo schools for 2012 school academic year?

The Task Team found that the problems of late or non-delivery of books affected grades one, two, three and 10 only. This was due to a commencement of a new curriculum.

It did not affect other grades as assumed.

Findings of the Task Team with regards to the reasons for the non-delivery of textbooks include the following;

  • The Limpopo Department of Education (LDoE) abolished its book unit and did not put in place a risk management plan, to mitigate any challenges that could arise from the decision to outsource the procurement and distribution of LTSM.
  • The LDoE did not place the LTSM orders timeously and did not manage the contract with the service provider, EduSolutions efficiently.
  • The department negligently handed over the responsibility to manage and maintain the database for the procurement of materials to the service provider.
  • The LDoE prioritised the procurement of stationery instead of textbooks.
  • After LDoE was placed under administration, the late and high turnover of Administrators resulted in instability.
  • The Director-General of the National Department of Basic Education (DBE) failed to act on a letter he received from the Publishers in December 2011, in which he was reminded that the LTSM had not been procured for the LDoE.
  • Both the national and provincial departments did not have credible data on learner and teacher numbers in Limpopo, which prevented them from placing the orders.
  • The financial and legal dispute with the service provider by the two departments resulted in inaction.

2Were there adequate finances available for the procurement of LTSM for the 2012 academic year, prior to and after national intervention in terms of section 100(1)(b) of the Constitution, and if not, what measures were put in place to secure the finances for the procurement of LTSM for the 2012 school year?


During the intervention there was sufficient funding made available from the Provincial Treasury to the Administrator for the purchase of textbooks.

Despite adequate funding being available, other factors impacted on the timely procurement of LTSM, which include amongst others:

i. Over-expenditure on the compensation budget of LDoE because of the filling of unfunded posts; which amounted to approximately R122.8 million.

ii. A general tendency to disregard and transgress legislation.

iii. A weakness of the Provincial Treasury in responding to financial management issues such as cash-flow requirements, supply chain management and financial oversight.

iv. Lack of recourse, response and action for personnel with fiduciary duties to report corruption or irregularities.

iv. Lack of an ethos that promotes a system of accountability in LDoE.

v. Management incompetence, lack of skills and lack of capacity both in the Provincial Treasury and LDoE.

vi. General lack of monitoring and evaluation of compliance in the Provincial Treasury regarding prudent cash management and monitoring of supply chain practices of departments.

vii. A lack of data, threat of legal action from the service provider and unclear mandates of who should do the procurement.

3. What was the role of provincial and national department in the procurement (ordering and distribution) of LTSM for 2012 school year?


  • The Task Team found that the LDoE negligently handed over the responsibility to manage and maintain the database for the procurement of LTSM to the service provider and they only acted as a “post office” in that they received and merely forwarded the information to the service provider, EduSolutions, without keeping any record in their system.
  • The LDoE did not order books for the 2012 school year.
  • The provincial Treasury did not manage its finances to effectively address the five priorities of government in its failure to manage cash flow and monitor the expenditure of the province.
  • In rationalising its budget the LDoE failed to prioritise the LTSM programme and at the end of the reprioritisation exercise, the department opted to procure stationery instead of textbooks.
  • The Office of the Premier failed in its legal and political mandate, to monitor and oversee the planning, budgeting and implementation of programmes of departments.
  • The Department of Basic Education (DBE), through the provincial oversight unit, did not fully oversee the readiness of departments to deliver on their obligations for the 2012 school year.
  • When section 100 (1) (b) was instituted the DBE failed to prioritise the ordering of books and concentrated on matters that were not helpful to the process despite advice from National Treasury and appointed administrators.
  • The administrators appointed by the national department did not get sufficient support and delegations to deliver on the terms of reference of the section 100 (1) (b) intervention. The procurement of textbooks function was not delegated to them.
  • The DBE left things too late while addressing issues that would not facilitate the speedy placing of orders and misrepresented facts on a non-existent court order barring them from ordering books from alternative suppliers.

4. What was the role of service providers in the acquisition, distribution and delays in the delivery of the LTSM for 2012 school year?


Prior to the intervention, EduSolutions suspended the procurement of the LTSM when LDoE could no longer pay them.

After the intervention, EduSolutions did not procure and distribute LTSM, owing to the dispute with DBE.

As a result of the dispute with DBE, EduSolutions was reluctant to hand over the data to DBE to commence with the procurement of LTSM as well as to place orders with publishers.

5. What were the reasons for the destruction or dumping of the LTSM?


The evidence pertaining to the dumping of textbooks was not presented to the Task Team as the matter is before the Courts and a disciplinary hearing is in process. At least one person allegedly linked to a series of dumping of textbooks incidents has been arrested and charged with several counts and has appeared in court.

6. Were the problems identified through the intervention in terms of Section 100(1)(b) of the Constitution in the LDoE adequately addressed?


With regard to the intervention to address the failures in the Provincial Government, the intervention team has identified the following weaknesses that need to be addressed, inter alia:

  • Cash and budget management such as overruns and corruption.
  • Leadership capacity and management deficiencies, for example ineffective oversight, direction, leadership operational instead of strategic and early warning mechanisms.
  • The capability of the LDoE staff.
  • The organisational structure was not aligned to budget and service delivery models.
  • Poor contract management, project management, no statistics on learner and teacher numbers in the LDoE.
  • The inability of the Provincial Oversight Unit within DBE to effectively monitor and oversee the procurement and delivery of LTSM in LDoE.
  • Systemic corruption in the LDoE.

7. Will legislation regulating the intervention contemplated in section 100(1)(b) of the Constitution facilitate and promote the delivery of services, especially textbooks?


The Task Team found that the proposed legislation will provide for a more integrated cooperative governance system in which national government monitors and supports provincial government more effectively, and is able to develop a system of early warning signals of significant provincial government failures.

It found that if legislation had already been passed, it would have provided greater clarity on the roles and responsibilities of the different role-players and would have made for a more effective intervention in Limpopo. However, they added, the absence of such a law cannot be used as an excuse for the Limpopo intervention not being effective and the failure to provide schools with textbooks.

“There is sufficient precedent set in previous Section 100 interventions and there are legislative prescripts in other legislation (PFMA, Public Service Act – PSA, etc.) that provide a reasonable framework for interventions. The considerable experiences of Section 139 interventions are also relevant in providing a broad framework or norms. It is the failure to abide by these precedents, legislative prescripts, previous experiences and norms that explain the ineffectiveness of the intervention’, says the Task Team.

8. Are there plans in place by the education department to assist the affected learners to catch-up with the academic programmes in the affected grades?


A catch-up plan for grade 10 has been developed and presented to Parliament, and it is in the process of being implemented. There is however, still a need for buy-in by stakeholders, including teacher unions, school governing bodies, teachers and learners. There is no need for such a plan for grade 1,2 and 3.

9. Are there plans, during the course of the intervention contemplated in section 100 (1) (b) of the Constitution, by the department of education for the procurement of LTSM for 2013 academic year?


The Task Team found that there are plans in place. The Administrator has provided a process map for the procurement and delivery of textbooks and stationery for the 2013 School calendar year.


Specific Recommendations made by the Presidential Task Team are as follows:

The Department of Basic Education must develop a policy for the standardisation of the procurement and distribution of Learner Teacher Support Material. The proposed policy must include mechanisms to strengthen contract and risk management, as well as an operation plan for the procurement and delivery of LTSM.

Given the delays of the delivery of textbooks after the intervention and against the background of the communication by National Treasury Administrator that funds would be found, the Task Team recommended that the Public Service Commission (PSC) should be directed to investigate the role of the Director-General of DBE in contributing to the delay with specific reference to:

  • His indecisiveness to respond to and act on the letter from the publishers in December 2011 in which he was reminded that the LDoE had not ordered LTSM for the academic year 2012.
  • The Director-General also did not provide adequate administrative support to the Administrators to ensure the implementation of section 100 (1)(b).
  • The alleged interference and reluctance to delegate the procurement function to the first two Administrators, therefore further delaying the process to order LTSM for the 2012 academic year.

The PSC shall fully investigate the matter on the basis of the available evidence and further interviews regarding any disciplinary action that may be taken within sixty days. The recommendations by the PSC shall be submitted to the President. The PSC should be further directed to investigate the role of the Head of Department of Education and the Chief Financial Officer of the LDoE with reference to:

1. Failure to fulfill responsibilities of ensuring that LTSM is procured on time and delivered on time for the start of the academic year 2012.

2. The alleged contravention of the supply management principles during the procurement of LTSM through a service provider without conducting a cost benefit analysis and without due regard to the implications on such a decision both administratively and human resource capacity to manage and oversee the implementation of the Service Level Agreement.

3. The ability of the Province to effectively manage the budget and to have credible information that will serve as the basis for costing and procurement of LTSM. The Public Service Commission should further be directed to investigate the role of the Head of Department of the Department of Finance (Treasury) in Limpopo with reference to:

  • The inability of the Provincial Treasury to monitor and remedy the cash flow problems that led to the financial crisis of the Province that had a bearing on the LDoE´s readiness and capability to order LTSM.
  • The ability of the Provincial Treasury to effectively manage the budget and to have credible information that will serve as the basis for costing and procurement of LTSM.
  • Alleged non-compliance with Supply Chain Management and PFMA in awarding the textbook contract to a service provider without a Cost Benefit Analysis.

Support to the Section 100 1 (b) intervention

The Task Team found that given the particular importance of textbooks in the provision of quality education, a pre-eminent priority among the five priorities of government, it is critical that appropriate political oversight in relation to the delivery of textbooks be carefully monitored by government and to ensure that appropriate risk management mechanisms are in place to enhance efficient and timeous delivery of textbooks.

Appropriate steps must be taken to ensure that sufficient Human and Financial capacity is available to support the intervention by developing a mechanism where institutional capacity can be deployed as and when the need arises. The said capacity should be located in the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and the National Treasury respectively.

The Task Team made the following broad recommendations to remedy the situation going forward;

  • The Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, with the assistance of DPSA and DBE, should develop and implement a proper monitoring mechanism to monitor the implementation of the catch-up plan for Grade 10, and report to Cabinet on a quarterly basis on the progress of the implementation.
  • The “Monitoring, Support and Interventions” (MSI) Bill that deals with national government interventions in provincial government in terms of Section 100 of the Constitution and provincial government interventions in municipalities in terms of Section 139 of the Constitution be finalised as soon as possible.
  • Consideration must be given to making national government intervention in provincial government obligatory, instead of discretionary, where a provincial government fails to fulfil key executive obligations. Such obligatory interventions apply to provincial governments in cases of municipalities failing in their financial obligations – as set out in sections 139 (4) and (5) of the Constitution. These obligatory interventions by provinces in municipalities are based on objective measures of failure set out in the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA). A similar set of measures might be considered for national government intervention in provinces. This can be done through provisions in the MSI Bill and/or amendments to the PFMA. It might also be necessary to amend Section 100 of the Constitution to make it more consistent with Section 139.
  • For the MSI Bill to be effective the PSA and PFMA have to be in synergy with it – and this means that the PSA and PFMA may have to be amended. The Public Service Commission Act (PSCA) may also have to be amended. Draft legislation dealing with a single public service also needs to be taken into account.
  • A Technical Team comprising representatives of CoGTA, National Treasury and DPSA needs to work on ensuring synergy between the MSI Bill, PSA and PFMA. Representatives of the Justice and Constitutional Development Department and PME in the Presidency need to be actively conferred with.
  • The MSI Bill should be finalised by 15 November to take through the Cabinet process. By this time the necessary amendments to the PSA, PFMA, and, if necessary, the PSCA, should be identified, and considered for further processing by the DPSA and National Treasury to be introduced into the Cabinet process by January 2013.
  • In the absence of an enabling legislation for section 100 interventions, National Treasury, the Department of Public Service and Administration and the Department of Cooperative Governance must develop an interim governance framework for Cabinet approval by end of September 2012.
  • In the finalisation of the current bill on section 100 interventions the experiences from the Eastern Cape and Limpopo interventions should also be taken into account.
  • To efficiently manage the budget and to have credible information that will serve as the basis for both costing and procurement Learner Teacher Support Material, a headcount for both the learners and teachers in the Province should be conducted and finalised by end of November 2012 by the DBE intervention team.
  • The Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, within the Presidency, must ensure that systems in various departments are coordinated and integrated to enable development of a standard set of measurements and deliverables to enhance the early warning capabilities in all three spheres of government.

Decision of the President

The President views the failure to provide textbooks to Grades 1, 2,3 and 10 in Limpopo in a very serious light and wants to ensure that there is no recurrence of the problem.

The President has accepted the report. In further processing it, he has asked the Minister of Basic Education to supply information on what has been done thus far, with regard to the following matters:

  • The effective procurement, delivery and supply of Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM) to the affected schools.
  • The proper implementation and monitoring of the catch up plan in respect of grade 10 learners in the affected schools.

The Minister has been requested to furnish the said report on action taken within 21 days from the 21st of September 2012. Based on the report, the President has asked the Minister to request the Public Service Commission to investigate the conduct of the Director-General of the Department of Basic Education with regard to the following:

  • His alleged indecisive response to correspondence received from the publishers in December 2011 regarding the procurement of LTSM for the 2012 academic year;
  • His failure to provide the necessary support for the Section 100 (1)(b) intervention and specifically his interaction with the Administrators appointed in terms of such intervention.

The President has assigned the Ministers in the Presidency, Mr Collins Chabane and Mr Trevor Manuel to assist the Minister of Basic Education in fulfilling the tasks and ensuring the implementation of the recommendations of the Presidential Task Team.

Mac Maharaj
Cell: 073 879 3203

Zanele Mngadi 

Bongani Majola

Issued by: The Presidency 
5 Oct 2012

shop-sa puts taste buds to the test

shop-sa joined renowned executive chef and MasterChef SA judge, Andrew Atkinson, in judging the Pillsbury Versatility Workshop at the Pick ‘n Pay Good Food Studio in October.

Atkinson demonstrated his unique creations incorporating Pillsbury TubeSet and Dry Mix products, and laid down the gauntlet for teams of two to come up with their very own creations.

The pressurised cook-off started with a store dash, where contestants selected the ingredients for their creations.

The contestants kneaded, mixed and blanched against the clock only to present their perfectly prepared dishes for critique.


Product, originality, flavour and presentation were taken into account and the winners were unanimously named as the pastry chefs from the Sandton Sun with their Blueberry Torte, Cherry Pin and Skhumbuzo Maphanga.

The runners up were Linda Larkan and Denise Murphy from Clamillas Caterers.

Glass of iced tea

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

South African beverage companyBOS Ice Tea has launched what may well be the world’s first Twitter-activated vending machine, according to website Memeburn.

The BOS ice tea vending machine is called ‘BEV’ and is currently standing at Wembley Square in Cape Town. Anyone who sends a tweet to the machine while standing in front of it will receive a free sample of BOS Ice Tea, a popular organic beverage made in South Africa from Rooibos, an indigenous plant which locals have used to make traditional tea for hundreds of years.  Itsmanufacturers boast that BOS Iced Tea is a ‘deliciously refreshing organic ice tea made entirely in South Africa with enormous integrity and care.’

South Africans are more active on Twitter than people from any other country in  Africa, according to a study issued in January by Portland Communications and Tweetminster.

Nur Bremmen, a tech writer at Memeburn, gives a brilliant and vivid description of how the vending machine works:

The BOS ice tea robot, called BEV, connects to the Twitter Streaming API and registers the configured hashtag as a filter. All tweets containing the hashtag on the entire Twitter network are then streamed to the BOS sampling machine. It then checks every Tweet’s location settings, and compares it with its own location boundaries (also configurable).

When a Tweet is found to be within the boundaries, a drink is dispensed, and the machine deactivates itself for set period. During this time, the screen name field of the tweet is displayed on the LED display, alternated every five seconds by the number of seconds left before the machine becomes active again.

BEV is a marketing campaign devised by Cow Africa, a leading South African marketing company.

Follow me on Twitter @EmperorDIV



If culture is an organization’s only truly sustainable competitive advantage(which it is), and a winning BRAVE culture is comprised of behaviors, relationships, attitudes, values and the environment (which it is), then you need to think about how your work environment is communicating and informing your corporate culture (which it is whether you’re thinking about it or not).

From “I” Space to “I” and “We” Space

layout of a social/learning space

layout of a social/learning space (Photo credit: University of Michigan MSIS)

Steelcase is in the business of creating work environments, offering workplace products, furnishings and services. As CEO Jim Hackett explained to me in a recent interview, workspace design historically mirrored the organizational chart, with people jockeying to be as close as possible to the seat of all power – the CEO. But now that information revolution has made information the new seat of power, there is much more flexibility in workspace design. Thus, as Hackett explained, the workspace of the future needs to:

Celebrate the shift of what we call the ‘I’ space to the ‘we’ space… Space has to enable and empower information in ways we only imagine… (across) a continuum of I and we work… people need a range of settings to accommodate focused, collaborative and social work in both open and enclosed environments – in other words, a palette of place.

This manifests itself in Google’s corridors set up for impromptu information sharing, in Microsoft’s celebrating the power of programming in its team settings as people “conquer the code,” and in conference rooms where information has a seat at the table.

Workspace as Leading Indicator of Cultural Evolution

Darwin made it clear that survival of the fittest is not survival of the smartest, strongest or fastest, but survival of those best able to adapt. As organizations adapt to the changing macro environment, their internal environment must change as well. Hackett has seen some examples of this done well in offices including Deloitte University’s in Plano, Texas. As Hackett put it:

Learning represents the strategy of the company.

Deloitte celebrates its expertise across the university facility from the “story wall” in the lobby to the “associate finder” that enables anyone to find anyone else in the massive facility. In many ways, the whole university is one large “we” space.

Allocate Workspace to Issues Instead of to People

Steelcase’s own offices have evolved as the company has changed, and serves as another example of how to use workspaces to communicate and enable corporate culture. When Hackett became CEO in 1994, one of the first things he did was to move all the executives off of the same floor and into a leadership “we” space.

Now, instead of designing traditional offices, Steelcase creates “we” spaces around the three-four most important meta issues. According to Hackett, executives don’t need homes, “command-level projects” do. So there might be a project room for a team working on a merger, product launch or a recall. Instead of people bringing information into meetings with executives, the information stays in the project rooms and executives travel to it. As Hackett explains, they made this shift because:

Innovation requires collective ‘we’ work. To this end, it’s critical to design spaces that not only support collaboration, but augment it (with) spaces that promote eye-to-eye contact, provide everyone with equal access to information, and allow people to move around and participate freely.

Manage Your Environment in Context

Your office environment is not just the context for what you do, it’s an important choice itself. There is no one best environment for all organizations. Instead, plan and put together your office environment as a core component of the BRAVE culture you choose to create. Create an environment that:

  • Supports behaviors which lead to business productivity.
  • Enables people to relate to each other and to information the way you want them to relate.
  • Reinforces your attitude, more severe and hierarchical or more relaxed and fluid as appropriate.
  • Lives and breathes your organization’s values.

This is a good example of step 2 of The New Leader’s PlaybookEngage the Culture and Your New Colleagues in the Right Context

Be careful about how you engage with the organization’s existing business context and culture. Crossing the need for change based on the context and the cultural readiness for change can help you decide whether to Assimilate, Converge and Evolve (fast or slow), or Shock.

Click here to read about each step in the playbook

Click here for YouTube videos highlighting each step


The New Leader’s Playbook includes the 10 steps that executive onboarding group PrimeGenesis uses to help new leaders and their teams get done in 100-days what would normally take six to twelve months. George Bradt is PrimeGenesis’ managing director, and co-author of The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan (Wiley, 3rd edition 2011) and the freemium iPad app New Leader Smart Tools. Follow him at @georgebradt or on YouTube.


There was nothing that could contain the joyful outbursts at the table occupied by KWV’s wine and brandy team in the final moments of the Veritas Awards, held on Saturday. Having been named overall winners last year, the team repeated the rare feat and again collected their haul of medals in front of one of the industry’s biggest gatherings in Cape Town.

Among only 3.3% Double Gold winners in the wine and brandy competition across 1 700 entries, KWV received no less than seven of the prized awards. Another six won Gold. Overall, 44 of its entries were listed among the winners.

“Standards have risen; the bar has been raised,” declared Charles Hopkins, the new chairman of Veritas, in his opening address and in reference to the overall performance of competitors in the event’s 22-year history.

Veritas 2012 signalled a momentous occasion for KWV. The company not only increased its Double Gold award-tally of the previous year, but also collected other significant titles along the way – notably that of Most Successful Producer at the recent Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show.

Furthermore, the spread of achievements within the portfolio is significant, says KWV chief winemaker Richard Rowe. “Here is a demonstration of consistency and strength across our various offerings.

“This is a fantastic result given where we’ve come from and is indicative of KWV delivering the right style of wine. These are wines made with finesse, concentration, and subtle and balanced used of oak. Most importantly – they’re wines that are very drinkable.”

An important part of KWV’s success, he said, has to do with the evolution of its wine styles while remaining respectful of heritage. At the same time, there has been a shift amongst competition judges to reward international styles. “The message for the industry is that the days of big blockbuster wines are over. Consumers have become particular about the wine styles they seek and the judges recognise this,” Rowe said.

He added that victory comes with much hard work and this was certainly true where KWV’s winemaking team was concerned. “We’ve made substantial progress. Of course, there’s more that can be done.”

As for KWV’s brandy makers, the evening ended delightfully for them too. “This year’s Veritas brandy judging panel was one of the industry’s most representative, comprising some of the biggest authorities in South African brandy,” said Pieter de Bod, KWV manager of spirits. “Having our work recognised by them in this way is a great honour.”

“Our goal was to produce friendlier brandies that are gentle, elegant and expressive. Innovation was a key part of achieving this. For example, we sourced fine honey and incorporated it into our distilling.”

Joining a handful of other winners on the Double Gold podium were the KWV 15 and 20 year potstill brandies, followed by Gold winner, the KWV 10 year potstill.

Among the wines, the Double Gold winners were The Mentors Pinotage 2010; the Mentors Shiraz 2010; the KWV Hanepoot Jerepigo 1969; the KWV White Jerepigo 1933; and, the KWV Classic Collection Cape Tawny Port N/V. Gold awards went to the KWV Cathedral Cellar MCC Brut 2010; the KWV Cathedral Cellar Pinotage 2010; the Laborie Jean Taillefert Shiraz 2010; and, KWV Classic Collection Cape Full Cream N/V; KWV Hanepoot Jerepigo 1973.

The Veritas Awards competition is regarded as one of South Africa’s most authoritative events, providing a most highly-esteemed indicator of quality market-ready wines. Of the total of 1 381 medals awarded this year, only 58 were Double Gold and 147 Gold. A panel of over 100 wine specialists, including several international judges, tasted the wines this year.

Government has confirmed its support for SMMEs, stating its awareness that these small and medium enterprises are the answer to economic growth and job creation in South Africa and that banks and funding agencies are to assist SMMEs where possible. Where then is this support for SMMEs and how does one access it?


Vaalnest Boutique Hotel, the Gauteng winner of the 2010/2011 Entrepreneur of the Year Award (ETEYA), is an 85% black owned and managed company and the owners have invested more than R8 million into the business. Yet when applying for funding little or no response is received yet being the Gauteng ETEYA winner. 


In 2010 the hotel was given the opportunity to expand its capacity with an order that arose as the result of the World Cup. The development is zoned as Guest House Special and Other in the Midvaal Municipality. It is stated in the title deed that 50% of the land may be built up. With the extensions to the hotel, only 38% of the land would be utilised; being well within the 50% limit.


The correct avenues of approval were followed and confirmation of approval was received yet when manager of Vaalnest, Keith Attwell, arrived at Midvaal Municipality to collect the approved plans he was advised that it has actually not been approved as the project is too large. Vaalnest sought relief from the head of department at the town planning offices, the Mayor of Midvaal and, finally, the Premier. Vaalnest was eventually contacted by the MEC of the housing office who stated that the matter is being dealt with. A year and a half later the first meeting was held with the Midvaal Municipality and a representative from Gauteng Tourism, Sedibeng district. The outcome of the meeting was that the Municipality would assist Vaalnest with an application for re-zoning to hotel status.


Vaalnest now needed funding in order to finance the development of the hotel as the window for funding from sales had lapsed. Being directed to GEDA by the head of department in the MECs office, an application for funding was made. A prompt response was received, an assessment was executed of the property and the site plans and a report was given confirming that the account had been handed over to the GEP. After six weeks it was established that GEP does not recognise GEDA’s assessments and a new application had to be made. After the application had been completed again, Vaalnest was advised that the GEP was taking a break from funding due to new management.  Once notification was received that GEP was again supplying funding, but no response has been received to date. The frustrated management of Vaalnest has experienced similar grievances with the job fund.


There is great disappointment in the manner in which Government has handled the various requests by Vaalnest management. Should this funding have been received, 128 permanent jobs would have been created with a further 60 temporary jobs arising and ten new businesses would have been developed in the Mamello township.


As a result in the delay in the above, Vaalnest came under financial pressure and this led to Vaalnest being put into liquidation. Without notice boards were put up on the 2nd of October 2012, confirming that it would go on sale by auction on the 9th of October 2012. Despite urgent communication and requests for help sent to Sedibeng Tourism, CEO of SA Tourism, CEO of Gauteng Tourism, the MEC and HOD of Economic Development, the CEO of GEP, Chief Director Sector Transformation of the Department of Tourism and the Minister of Tourism, no response has been received. The owners of Vaalnest will have to bid on the hotel along with other buyers and invest even more money to keep their business.


Until Government takes its municipalities and Government agencies in hand, turning them around to become more competent, with faster turnaround times and more reliable systems, SMMEs will continue to fail at the current rate of 96% and South Africa’s economic and employment crises will continue on.

Asia Pulp and Paper has spent the last few weeks telling customers around the world that the company’s latest sustainability pledges mean that this time, the changes the company has announced are genuine. To the untrained eye new pledges to stop forest clearance in limited areas and plans to only source from plantations can sound promising.

But today in Indonesia, as part of Greenpeace’s latest ‘Tigers’ Eyes Tour’ Greenpeace Indonesia and WALHI (Indonesian Environmental Forum) activists, along with Robi, lead singer of famous Balinese grunge band, Navicula, came across the fresh clearing in the middle of a plantation run by PT Asia Tani Persada.

This again highlights the real problem: If words aren’t matched by immediate action to stop forest clearance, APP’s commitments are meaningless.

Top line pledges by the company to halt forest clearance until conservation plans are agreed come with major caveats. APP is actually only referring to about 40% of the areas it sources from in Indonesia, with these areas being where most of the forest was actually cleared years ago.

APP commitments to end forest clearance by 2015 comes with a large dose of small print as it still plans to rely on rainforest timber for a significant percentage of its production after that time. And given that the company has repeatedly claimed previously that it would end its reliance on forest clearance only to then miss the deadlines, how can APP be trusted this time?

If these issues weren’t enough to sow the seeds of doubt then news that APP is planning to build one of the world’s largest pulp mill’s in South Sumatra certainly does. The company makes no reference to these plans for a 2 million ton pulp mill in its sustainability announcements, yet they appear to blow a massive hole in claims that all targets to stop forest clearance can and will be met as planned.

It’s within this context that the news that APP is now working with The Forest Trust (TFT) must be seen. If APP isn’t able to stop clearance of Indonesia’s rainforests for its pulp and paper production, then its choice of NGO partner and the glossy PR campaigns that surround it’s activities remain meaningless.

APP has spent years and tens of millions of dollars on greenwash whilst Indonesia’s forests get pulped for throwaway paper products. The evidence from the front line in Borneo today suggests that we are a long way from seeing the real change needed to stop forest destruction in Indonesia. Greenpeace and other NGOs are judging the value of APP’s commitments by its actions in the forests.

By Bustar Maitar, Head Of Greenpeace’s campaign to save Indonesia’s forests

Lexmark raises over R100 000 for Cotlands

Johannesburg, October, 2012 – International printing and imaging company Lexmark has raised over R100 000 at a golf day and gaming event for Cotlands, a non-profit community development organisation, that actively seeks to find solutions to real community problems by intervening directly within communities to build capacity in caring for children through the provision of health, education and psychosocial services.

The event was part of Lexmark’s Cartridge Recycling Initiative for Babies (CRIB) and took place at the County Club Johannesburg in Woodmead on 2 October 2012. It was the eleventh Annual CRIB  Golf Day to benefit Cotlands.


“The initiative has grown in stature over the years and involves a wide range of Lexmark’s corporate customers and suppliers who continue to support our endeavors including our annual charity golf day. It is heartwarming to see the impact this self-sustaining programme has on so many childrens’ lives and the communities in which they live”, comments Mark Hiller, country general manager of Lexmark South Africa.


Lexmark’s long-term commitment to Cotlands started in April 2002 through the company’s CRIB donations, which are generated by customers returning empty Lexmark cartridges free of charge for recycling. The donations are given in the form of “Baby Days”. One Baby Day equals the cost of housing, feeding, clothing and care for one child within the Cotlands programme for one day. Over the past year, the Lexmark CRIB initiative managed to raise a total of 21 834 Baby Days, equating to a donation of
R574 222, inclusive of this year’s golf day.

This year, the baby sanctuary celebrated 76 years of intervening directly within communities to build capacity in caring for children. “Lexmark has been the most wonderful donor to our organisation over the past 11 years and we are so thankful for their generosity,” commented executive director of Cotlands, Jackie Schoeman, on receiving a cheque from Lexmark at the prize-giving event. “We understand and appreciate the amount of work that goes into these golf days on an annual basis.”


Schoeman further explained that the organisation has recently undergone some exciting and forward thinking change in scope, which is to equip families with the skills to care for children in their own community. Driven by both experience and global research findings, Cotlands is undergoing a transition from a residential–care service supported by community–based care, to a community–focused service backed up by residential care.


Since 2002, Lexmark has donated a total of 87 031 Baby Days to Cotlands, equating to a donation of R4 522 991 and managed to keep over 200 tons of empty cartridges out of South Africa’s landfills.


Companies and individuals interested in participating in Lexmark’s recycle initiative can visit, or for more on Cotlands’ activities and ways to help.

Raising Awareness of Security Threats, Working with Customers to Drive Efficiencies, and Strengthening Channel Eco System are Key Goals


18 September 2012, Johannesburg, South Africa


Gregory Anderson

Trend Micro Incorporated (TYO: 4704; TSE: 4704), a global cloud security leader, announced today the appointment of Gregory Anderson as the first Country Manager for South Africa, with immediate effect.

Gregory Anderson joins Trend Micro at a time when the growth in web threats across the country since 2009 has well exceeded 400 per cent.

Anderson’s priority will be to continue delivering Trend Micro’s value-added security solutions to help protect South African organisations. He will also focus on further growing the company, as well as strengthening and building its already robust distribution and channel model.

Previously, Trend Micro was serving the South African Market through its partner Secure Data and Anderson’s appointment underlines the global cloud security leader’s commitment to the region.

“Web threats are exhibiting exponential growth, and I expect this trend will continue throughout 2012.  This is an exciting opportunity for me to be in a company whose goal is protecting its customers in a time of increased organised criminal activity over the web,” commented Gregory.

“Today’s attacks are financially motivated and we are here to help our customers better protect themselves. I also believe that Trend Micro’s offerings will help customers, embrace private, public and hybrid Cloud Computing more holistically,” he added.

Anderson brings a wealth of in-depth experience to his new post, with more than 18 years of African IT industry experience. He joins Trend Micro from Microsoft South Africa and has previously worked at EMC and VMware. He has strong channel-based experience and has held senior positions with global technology companies.  Anderson also served on the board of directors of local companies, uniquely preparing him to address the strong and unique value propositions Trend Micro can deliver to local African customers.

“Gregory joins a very strong Trend Micro team, already boasting a robust market presence,” commented Chris Moore, General Manager, Middle East, Africa and Med.

“I am pleased to have someone with Gregory’ experience, who I know will further ensure continued success for Trend Micro in this important market,” added Moore.

How to Train Cats and Salespeople

Which do you think would be harder to train, a cat or a salesperson? Seriously, which one would you pick? While it’s true that cats have a well-deserved reputation for being independent, demanding and virtually impossible to train, the same can be said for many salespeople. Surprisingly, the same training and reward techniques required to get Fluffy to jump through a hoop can also be utilized to motivate your sales team to achieve peak performance!

One evening while channel surfing I came across a fascinating animal act that grabbed my attention. The act featured a cat trainer with a half dozen cats of varying size, shape and color. Unlike a circus lion tamer who attempts to intimidate with a chair and whip, this man simply used a combination of treats and verbal praise to motivate his cats to perform difficult tricks. Using only soothing voice tones and a pocket full of cat treats, he would calmly command each cat to do its own specific trick. Amazingly, he got one cat to walk on his front paws, one balanced on a ball, while yet another pushed a toy baby stroller across the stage.

After the performance, the cat trainer was interviewed and asked how he was able to get his cats to willingly obey his commands. His response surprised me with its simple wisdom. He said that he didn’t train the cats at all, he simply figured out what each cat liked to do best and then encouraged that behavior! “People need to realize that a cat’s indifference doesn’t mean they can’t learn cool tricks,” says celebrity animal trainer Joel Silverman. “It simply means you haven’t convinced them yet that doing so is in their best interest. A dog naturally wants to please you and will work for you, but a cat needs a paycheck to be motivated.”

Five Tips to Help You Train Cats and Salespeople

  1. Temperament testing is a must! Before you invest your time and energy into training make sure you check for temperament suitability. Temperament testing allows you to identify those who by nature lack the discipline, desire or self-motivation to consistently achieve peak performance. Sales managers who lack the benefit of temperament understanding are inclined to place too much emphasize on their gut-level feeling during the hiring process. If you hire someone that is not suited for the position, you will experience low morale, high turnover and find yourself constantly in the training mode. On the other hand, when you recruit the right person you will find that they are self-motivated and eager to train. 
  2. Look for “hot buttons”. Traditionally, sales managers have relied primarily on commission to motivate their sales force. Unfortunately, a compensation structure based solely on commission does not address individual motivational factors and therefore, money alone will not motivate your sales force. A successful incentive program is a mixture of awards, recognition and peer pressure. There is tremendous power behind a timely word of praise or a handwritten note acknowledging achievement. While money is certainly an important ingredient in any incentive program, it should by no means be the only tool in a manager’s motivational toolbox. If money by itself were a sufficient motivation, commission-based salespeople would simply sell more without additional enticement.
  3. Make the training fun and positive. All cats and most salespeople have pretty short attention spans and low boredom thresholds. Keep lessons short, interesting and always try to end on a positive note.
  4. You must be patient when training cats or salespeople. It’s important to respect individual abilities and preferences. Make allowances for personality, and don’t get frustrated if the training schedule doesn’t go exactly as expected. Remember that people have off days and on days just like cats. “When I’m really pushing and the going gets tough,” says Silverman, “sometimes the cat just sits down and says, ‘I give up’. Even the brightest cats, if they feel you’re pushing them too hard, will, in effect, say, ‘Screw you, buddy, I’m going to go over there, sit down, and stare into space.”
  5. Make sure to take time for rest and relaxation. All work and no play will make the cat, the salesperson and the trainer grumpy. Whether it is playing with a ball of yarn or enjoying a round of golf, taking time out to play is critically important. By successfully balancing play and work, you will return recharged, refreshed and ready to accomplish more.

By incorporating these five powerful tips into your training program, you will develop an award-winning sales team and achieve unbelievable results!

Follow us on social media: 


View our magazine archives: 


My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective