Author Archive | Pedri

#8 Winter 2017

A hollow state is not a professional or capable state

The troubles at the Treasury and SARS are a microcosm of the steady hollowing out of state institutions over the past few years that is eroding public confidence and undermining the ability of the state to deliver on its mandate of service delivery.

The decision by National Treasury director general, Lungisa Fuzile, to quit his job in May brings to an end the career of one of South Africa’s distinguished civil servants.

It also raises fresh questions about the future of the country’s public service: the resignation comes after a reported exodus of skills and talent at the South African Revenue Service (SARS). In light of the dismissal by President Jacob Zuma of the Treasury’s political heads Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas, there has been speculation that a similar mass emigration of skills is imminent at the Treasury.

Like the Treasury, SARS has prided itself on its deserved reputation as a competent state agency staffed by highly skilled and dedicated employees.

The troubles at the Treasury and SARS are a microcosm of the steady hollowing out of state institutions over the past few years. This has undermined the ability of the South African state to fulfil its mandate, provide reliable, efficient and effective social services.

The post-1994 democratic transition in South Africa brought with it expectations that there would be huge improvements in service provision for all South Africans. The reality, however, has been markedly different. Although there has been major progress in terms of expanding access to basic services – from electricity to water and sanitation – the number of reported incidents of service delivery failures across the country remains unacceptably high.

This, coupled with skills deficiencies within the bureaucracy and widespread reports of corruption in government departments, has led to an erosion of confidence in the public service.

Poor governance and corruption

Service delivery failures have been most pronounced at local government level. Underperforming municipalities are commonplace, with many of them continually failing to meet basic service delivery standards. This has prompted a wave of service delivery protests in recent years by both poor and wealthy South Africans alike.

The extent of public disenchantment at local government has been reflected in a number of cases in which communities have taken local municipalities to court over perceived service delivery failures. In many of those cases, the courts have ruled in favour of the disgruntled communities. Alarmingly, however, even in these cases some municipalities have failed to comply with court orders to improve public services. Moreover, across all three spheres of government, there have been numerous reports of poor governance and corruption. Inefficient, inappropriate and wasteful expenditure of taxpayers’ money has been rife. Likewise, public money has been siphoned into the coffers of certain government officials.

Reports of conflicts of interest involving public officials, including President Zuma, have been commonplace. There has also been evidence of double standards in the application of the law to government officials and members of the public. In one infamous example, President Zuma’s former financial advisor, Schabir Shaik, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for bribery and corruption, but later released on a ‘presidential pardon’. Zuma was the co-accused in this case, but all charges against him were dropped.

Huge cost to taxpayers and poorest of poor

All of these incidents have come at a huge cost to South African taxpayers, including the poorest of the poor, as service provision has not been prioritised. This goes against the key tenets of our Constitution.

Service delivery failures, poor governance and corruption have occurred against the backdrop of growing politicisation of the public service. This has been exemplified by the deployment of public service personnel on the basis of party political incentives and not merit principles.

Arguments pointing to the politicisation of the public service are supported by empirical evidence. A study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which assessed the level of political involvement in the appointment of senior officials, found that the involvement of elected officials in the appointment of senior officials in South Africa was high by international standards.

Studies have also shown that political factors are a key determinant of the career prospects of public servants in South Africa. In this respect, political factors play an influential role in governing promotions, transfers and performance assessments involving government officials.

The politicisation of the public service has been driven by the ANC’s strategy to install party members in administrative offices and control top government appointments. It has also been motivated by a desire to exercise institutional control, especially control over government policy.

This politicisation has had detrimental effects in the form of increased clientelism, cronyism and corruption within the South African public service. It has also eroded technical knowledge, skills and accountability among public servants.

Performance management systems fail

Performance management systems implemented by the ANC government have generally not led to significant improvements in accountability. The clearest weakness in this respect has been that the government’s performance management systems are not aligned to integrated service delivery programmes. This has been complicated by the fact that all performance monitoring mechanisms focus on compliance, rather than on well-articulated and integrated value creation processes.

In addition, research by the Public Service Commission has revealed that many of the national and provincial departments of health and of public works do not provide job descriptions for advertised posts and do not comply fully with requirements related to job evaluations. There has also been a problem of excessive mobility within the public service, with reported cases of officials moving from junior to senior positions without adequate assessment of their readiness.

Overall, this evidence suggests that skills have been underemphasised in the appointment and promotion of public servants in South Africa. It makes a mockery of the claims by the ANC government that it is committed to building a professional and capable state.

#8 Winter 2017

True entrepreneurs rise above the challenges

Award-winning innovator, Rudzani Mulaudzi says tougher economic conditions and more political tension will not hold back entrepreneurs – especially those like him, who are driven to effect real social change in society.

With a degree in Information Systems from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and several years’ experience as a software developer, project manager and management consultant, Rudzani Mulaudzi could easily have landed a big-paying corporate job.

Instead, this Johannesburg-based entrepreneur is focusing all his time and effort on making a difference by uplifting and developing communities through social businesses aimed at making an impact – rather than purely profit. In 2014 Mulaudzi won the Ventureburn Startup Battle with his educational company Gradesmatch. The following year he was also one of the winners of the prestigious SAB social innovation awards, which came with a R600 000 prize. Gradesmatch helps learners with career guidance counselling as well as bursaries, internships and careers and its services are currently enjoyed by over 150 000 users.

Motivated to add to his skills set and build his networks, Mulaudzi has just completed an MPhil specialising in Inclusive Innovation at the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) with the help of a scholarship from the MTN Solution Space, an innovation and entrepreneurship hub on the campus.

He says he was attracted to the MPhil because of its emphasis on innovation for impact and inclusiveness. “It is such a unique programme, I don’t think anyone in the country does anything like this.”

Social businesses tend to be quite complex, he says, especially for companies who are not NGOs and yet are not solely geared towards generating profits. “The people who benefit from Gradesmatch can’t pay and this makes it somewhat unusual in the traditional business sense.”

But the company’s impact has been radical. “There was one boy who initially said he wanted to be a petrol station attendant. After speaking to him for a while, it turned out he had an interest in aviation. We were able to secure a spot for him in pilot school and we have found a sponsor for him as well. That is impact.”

Mulaudzi is now turning his attention to new challenges. As part of his MPhil studies, he did a dissertation on the nature of stokvels in South Africa – a network of over 820 000 different groupings handling over R49 billion per annum – according to the National Stokvel Association of South Africa. He interviewed members of 36 stokvels and found that most were run and used by members who were consumers rather than investors, using the money to survive and mostly to buy groceries.

“I grew up with stokvels,” says Mulaudzi, who comes from the village of Nzhelele in Limpopo. “My mother was part of a stokvel and I saw all this money was there but the people did not benefit, they didn’t grow any richer. When I went to university, it was a struggle to find money for the fees.”

It occurred to him that the stokvel economy was worth so much and that its members should reap greater rewards. “Stokvel members should be educated about their bargaining power and how to leverage their collective strength, to secure the advantages of being the biggest buyer in the economy,” says Rudzani.

Mulaudzi wants to do more research on this idea while continuing to build on the success of Gradesmatch. He wants to work with other big thinkers in the innovation space and is looking forward to the MTN Solution Space opening up a hub in Johannesburg. He says innovators need all the help they can get.

He remains undeterred by the weaker economy and tougher investment landscape. “Entrepreneurs are comfortable working in uncomfortable places. This is what we do, keeping going when times are tough, finding solutions and moving on. This is the mark of the true entrepreneur – they will always rise above the challenges.”

#8 Winter 2017

News Round-up

GSB customised offering rated fastest growing in world

The UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) has claimed its place in the 2017 Financial Times rankings of the world’s top customised executive education offerings, beating competitors from as far afield as France, Canada, Italy, Norway and Belgium.

The UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) has retained its place in the top 100 business schools in the world for the 7th consecutive year and has been rated as the fastest growing business school globally in terms of growth in its revenues from customised programmes between 2015 and 2016.The GSB, which is one of five African universities to make the list, was ranked 70th in the 2017 Financial Times ranking of the world’s top customised programmes, globally recognised as a pre-eminent benchmark for business schools.“Rankings are important, but the real value in our offering is in our client centric approach and a process of continuous co-creation of effective learning solutions, ” said GSB Director of Executive Education, Kumeshnee West. “We believe that we are growing so fast because we understand that training interventions need to make a significant impact on people’s performance and the bottom line and we know how to achieve this,” she said.Customised programmes are business courses that are custom-designed to help organisations meet their particular challenges and generate positive business outcomes. They range from short interventions to full academic diplomas and qualifications.“We partner with our clients to help them think through the problems that they face and then design and implement a learning solution to deliver powerful results that permeate throughout the organisation,” said West.Top of the FT customised programme ranking for 2017 is IESE in Spain, which has held the top spot for several years running. IMD, Duke and INSEAD all retained their position in the top ten, while significantly, Harvard climbed from 14th position to 5th.Universities are ranked based on a variety of factors including programme preparation, teaching methods, materials, design, new skills and learning, diversity of faculty and “future use”, which indicates strong, long-term relationships with clients. In addition to being rated number one for growth, the GSB achieved high scores in the quality of programme design, teaching methods and materials, facilities and value for money, as well as the crucial area of future use. Diversity of faculty was also a plus point.“It is significant to see African campuses gaining ground where the business school environment is becoming increasingly competitive,” said GSB director Mills Soko. “It is indicative of an ongoing commitment to excellence on local territory – but also an increased recognition from the global community that African business schools are serious contenders in the international space.“The result represents a continued victory for the GSB in challenging political and economic times. It also underlines the ongoing, if not increased need, for continued top-class business education in an unpredictable environment.”“The GSB is continuing to expand its footprint both locally, on the African continent, and internationally,” says West. “Providing a high standard of education to executives is a core part of equipping businesses to remain relevant and resilient in challenging times.”

Programmes can run at the GSB’s Waterfront campus in Cape Town, or at the school’s new satellite sites in Sandton, Johannesburg and Philippi, Cape Town. The school can also travel to a venue of the client’s choice to deliver on site and in-house.

The GSB is one of only three business schools in Africa to be triple-crowned, meaning it is accredited by the three most influential business school accreditation associations: AACSB – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; AMBA – The Association of MBAs; and EQUIS – European Quality Improvement System. Of over 13,000 business schools worldwide, less than 80 have achieved triple accreditation.

“We remain focused on the highest standards of business education that both gives input from industry leaders and reflects the diversity of our business environment,” said Soko. “The GSB’s ongoing presence in the FT rankings reflects this.”

GSB case study wins top award at Emerald AABS

Himanshu Vidhani.

A case study on the successful turnaround at K-Way won top honours at the annual Emerald/Association of African Business Schools (AABS) Case Study Competition.

The results of the competition, which aims to encourage and promote the development of high-quality teaching case material from real-life situations in Africa, were announced in May. This marks the GSB’s third consecutive win in this competition.

The study details the journey undertaken by K-Way as they adopted lean thinking principles. It also looked at the new management challenges they face 12 years on, particularly in sustaining lean thinking. “The case study can be used to teach students how they might address the individual (but not necessarily dissimilar) challenges companies face in entrenching lean thinking in their organisations”, says Fatima Hamdulay, senior lecturer at the UCT GSB, who supervised the project. K-Way is one of South Africa’s best known manufacturers of outdoor gear.

The case study, entitled “The Evolution of Lean Thinking at K-Way – Where to Next?” was conducted by Hamdulay’s student Himanshu Vidhani, as part of his MBA thesis. It will be published in a forthcoming release of Emerald’s Emerging Sources Case Collection.

“They took a business on the brink of extinction and turned it into a business that came to define the trends for technical clothing in South Africa. The study traced K-Way’s journey for over a decade.

“This company was on the verge of closure 12 years ago,” explains Hamdulay. “But with the application of core lean principles – eliminating waste, creating greater respect for people and continuously engaging in how to do both these things better – they were able to turn things around, one KPI at a time. And importantly, right now, they acknowledge that it feels as if they are just getting started.”

“The most significant take-away from the case is that companies need to change their mindset and focus on the work that needs to happen and in particular, the people doing it. It is a combination of simultaneously empowering people and improving processes that makes any organisation successful,” says Vidhani.

It’s important to remember, however, that the Lean Thinking approach is not a “cookie cutter” method, adds Hamdulay. A case study delivers lessons, but each organisation will have a unique situation which will demand unique redress, or countermeasures. “You have to really understand your situation and apply the philosophy as well as the appropriate tools that go along with it, and test your understanding of the situation all the time,” she says.

Both Vidhani and Hamdulay believe there is room for a great deal more research in the field of sustained lean thinking, especially in South Africa and particularly where the practical meets the theoretical. “In the South African context, there is a need for more research on bridging the gap between lean tools and lean thinking,” says Vidhani.

GSB steps up international engagements

In a testament to its growing global relevance, the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) has hosted numerous international study tours in 2017, welcoming groups of students from some of the world’s top business schools to its campus in recent months.

According to Kumeshnee West, Director of Executive Education at the GSB, the school has seen a phenomenal growth in interest in study tours and has hosted 18 in 2017 alone, up from 10 in 2016 and just five in 2014.West explained that study tours form a part of an elective on many school’s MBA, EMBA or Master’s programmes and in coming to Cape Town, they mostly want to gain first hand experience and insight into doing business in Africa. One group also wanted to gain an understanding of the extent of Chinese influence in sub-Saharan Africa.“Programmes can be customised to meet the specific needs of the visitors and tap into the expertise available at the GSB and in its broader network,” said West. “These programmes provide our students and faculty with a great opportunity to interact with international students and academics.” She added that similar programmes can also be customised for corporate clients.“Engaging with students and faculty on these study tours is a mutually enriching experience for hosts and guests,” agreed Associate Professor Mills Soko, Director of the GSB. “The interchange also heightens the level of global knowledge and cross-pollination, accelerating the process of developing relevant programmes and solutions to perennial and often universal challenges.”Visiting schools in 2017 have come from three different continents and include Warwick Business School and Oxford Saïd Business School in the UK; the University of South Carolina, George Washington University, and NYU Stern in the US; HEC Paris, University of Oslo, Norway, St Gallen in Switzerland, Zeppelin University in Germany, and ESADE in Spain; as well as Sun Yat-sen Business School in China.

GSB hosts Global Network for Advanced Management 4th annual meeting

TOP: Delegates from some of the world’s top business schools visited Cape Town as guests of the GSB this May for the 4th annual meeting of GNAM. LEFT: Rayner Canning, Director of Business Development with Kim van Der Merwe, Learning and Leadership Corporate Investment Banking, Standard Bank and GSB PGDip alumnus, Kumeshnee West, Director of Executive Education at the GSB, and Ifeanyichukwu Obiora-Okafo, Lagos Business School. RIGHT: Natasja Müller Training and Development Manager at AngloGold Ashanti, who is also a current EMBA student at the school, tells the story of the company’s learning journey with the GSB at the GNAM meeting.

Directors of Executive Education from some of the world’s top business schools gathered at the GSB this May for the 4th annual meeting of the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM) to discuss collaboration and the future of executive education.

The meeting included delegates from the Yale School of Management, Oxford Saïd Business School, IMD, Lagos School of Business, HEC Paris, IIM Bangalore, the European School of Management and Technology, London School of Economics, Koç University Executive Education Programs and EGADE Business School Mexico. The GNAM network consists of 29 global schools.

“We discussed collaboration and best practice and generally how to enhance partnerships with business schools across the globe,” said Director of Executive Education at the GSB Kumeshnee West.
Key topics for discussion at this year’s meeting was the rise in demand for online learning on the continent, as well as the newly launched Certificate of Excellence in Global Business, a qualification created by GNAM, that offers delegates unique access to its network of top business schools and thought-leaders around the world.

Each of the network’s 29 schools has pooled its course offerings and those embarking on the Certificate of Excellence can tailor their learning journey according to their particular industry and professional growth aspirations. At the end of the two-year programme, participants have to demonstrate how they have integrated what they have learned into their working lives and present this to panel from GNAM.

“Business schools around the world are collaborating and designing programmes and qualifications, like the Certificate of Excellence in Global Business, in order to give individuals greater flexibility in accessing the world’s top business education and thinking,” explained West. “The GSB, along with other African schools in the network, is delighted to be playing a key role in this process.”

The meeting also provided the GSB with an opportunity to showcase its particular capabilities as a school with regards to executive education and customised programmes and what it can contribute to the GNAM network, said West. “We presented case studies on courses that we have worked on for many years and were able to share expertise around how we design these and how we have been successful.”

To help tell the GSB story, two key clients, Kim van der Merwe from Standard Bank and Natasja Müller from Anglo Gold Ashanti, joined the meeting to share their experiences of working with the school in the co-creation of learning interventions that work.

“We were honoured to have our clients share this platform with us,” said West. “Their stories were beautiful. They highlighted the partnership journey we have been on and explained why the GSB has become a trusted advisor when it comes to Executive Education programmes and leadership development.”


Raymond van Niekerk

Raymond van Niekerk is an adjunct professor at the GSB. His areas of expertise include business strategy, marketing communication strategy, corporate citizenship and social responsibility. He describes himself as a brand builder who attempts to harness the DNA of an organisation as the base and most important determinant of a company’s branding and marketing strategy.