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With the recent press statement made by President Cyril Ramaphosa pertaining to the appointments of cadres in a number of the state-owned companies and entities, the point he was making related to the quality, calibre and experience of an individual being appointed not only to the board, but indeed also to other executive positions.

One cannot deny the inevitable disaster one could expect if an inexperienced driver were to be expected to participate in a Formulae 1 racing car at Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, and not only compete against other professional drivers, but also to win the race! There is no doubt that the person would probably not even know how to start the car, let alone pull it out of the pit-lane for the real action! But even if it were possible for this person to get to the start line, there’s no doubt that the competing drivers would protest the presence of this inexperienced driver, and even withdraw from the race for obvious reasons.

The President said, "Officials and managers must possess the right financial and technical skills and other expertise. We are committed to end the practice of poorly qualified individuals being parachuted into positions of authority through political patronage. There should be consequences for all those in the public service who do not do their work [20 January 2020].”

We agree entirely with the President’s position regarding the appointment of the most suitable people for board and similar executive positions and that this sentiment applies equally to all organisations, regardless of their size or the nature of their operations.

The fact that so many organisations have failed, or even collapsed entirely by virtue of its failed internal governance practices, proves that the board and its executive leadership did not ensure, strategically, that all its operations were correctly calibrated to provide a sustainable environment.

To start with, whether it be an appointment for the board or similar senior leadership positions, the incumbent must not be insolvent or under administration, neither one with criminal convictions. Clearly, the sort of qualifications required for these leadership positions should include appropriate experience, strategic thinkers and problem solvers who can and will challenge the status quo and in such a way that raises the bar in order to take the organisation to a higher level.

Indeed, the personal values of these leaders is equally important, and the basis for appointments should include integrity, passion, competence, insight and being willing to account personally when they have failed in their tasks and duties.

As South Africa continues to ‘haemorrhage’ in terms of its economic performance, unprecedented levels of unemployment and similar social ills, including diminishing foreign direct investment and skills; the President including his ‘captains of industry’ will need to rapidly surround themselves with smart and experienced individuals who will challenge the current policies and thinking in order to change the dire socio-economic circumstances which the rating agencies, including the IMF and World Bank foresee as our deficiencies.

Needless to say, we should at all costs avoid ‘yes-people’ and ‘political rent seekers’; the most successful organisations generally include individuals within their ranks who are unafraid of having difficult conversations, such where they ensure the team remain focussed on achieving the purpose and objectives of the organisation, placing the interests of the organisation foremost.


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Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER


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