Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Britain back in election mode

Diana and I often pick momentous days in British history to travel in or out of the country.

On 7th July 2005 I got off the plane and soon heard reports of the terrible bombings of the London underground and buses that happened that very morning. On 8th April 2013 we turned on the radio as we drove from my parents' home in North Wales to Heathrow and sat riveted for the next five hours as reports of Mrs Thatcher's death came through, along with in-depth interviews with significant politicians of her era including Michael Heseltine (who triggered her resignation as Prime Minister in 1990) and David Owen (Foreign Secretary in the Labour government she defeated in 1979 who went on to co-found the SDP which re-shaped the centre left of British politics).

Today, once again driving from North Wales to Heathrow, we turned on the 10:30 news to hear that Theresa May has called a general election for 8th June, just 7 weeks away. The special edition of The World at One on BBC Radio 4 carried interviews with leading political commentators and politicians offering their views on this shock announcement.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Statement on the crisis in South Africa by Revd Dr Jeremy Jacobs, Rector, St George's Anglican Church, Parktown, Johannnesburg

I don't normally post other people's writing on this blog but sometimes exceptions are necessary. This is one such exception. 

As Jeremy says below, our church in Parktown has hosted the ANC veterans 101 Group meetings over recent months. But they have been dismissively ignored by the ANC. President Zuma and his handlers have lost all respect for men and women who were once the heart of the ANC, as they have for all other democratic forces in South Africa.

Today's marches are a sign of the DA and civil society's determination to change that, and force the ANC to take action to remove Zuma. This is the beginning of a protest movement that is looking more and more like its predecessors in the 1980s aimed at removing the National Party from government. The climax to this movement will be the 2019 elections when the DA aims to be part of a new government, ushering in a renewed sense of hope for our citizens. We have a bumpy two years ahead.

Mcebisi Jonas resigns a day after addressing the AHI SME Indaba

This morning we heard the news that former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas has resigned as an MP. Yesterday I attended the AHI SME Indaba in Centurion where Mr Jonas gave possibly his last public address as an MP. It was striking in its frankness about the dangers facing SA today.

I sat Tweeting like mad as a substitute for making notes, but the gist of what he said confirms what we all suspected about the state of capture South Africa finds itself in.

In South Africa, "politics and economics are inextricably linked" he said. Economist Dawie Roodt's comments after his speech highlighted Jonas' emphasis on politics rather than a focus on economic policies, the latter being what you would expect from a former deputy minister of finance.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Launch of the Chance Glassworks Heritage Trust

This afternoon, the Chance Glassworks Heritage Trust launched at the Sandwell Council offices in Smethwick, near Birmingham.

The Trust is the brainchild of local businessman Mark Davies, who quickly assembled a first class team of professional advisers and a board representing diverse interests with a strong commitment to rejuvenating this historic site. I was honoured to be invited to act as Patron of the Trust, being the great great great nephew of founder Robert Lucas Chance.

The Trust's website can be viewed here.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Reply to question on issuing of business visas reveals SA is not a business-friendly or Start-Up Nation

Below is the reply I received to a written question put to Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, which reveals just how anti-business South Africa has become.

Business Day picked up the reply and published a story on it yesterday - see it here.

Apart from the fact that no visas were issued for any type of business, the Minister was unable (or chose not) to answer the question about the sum of investment made into the country resulting from the issuing of visas in the past.

I am going to be pursuing this issue as it pertains directly to South Africa's relative attractiveness as an investment destination. 

Yet again we are presented with concrete evidence that our government speaks with forked tongues - last week opening a one-stop-shop investment hub, this week showing its true colours in its anti-business stance by refusing new and existing businesses to bring in vital skills the country so desperately needs.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Press statement: Department of Small Business Development to underspend by between R96 and R125 million

Date: 24 March 2017
Release: Immediate
Type: Press Statement

In the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development this week, it was revealed that the Department of Small Business Development is projected to underspend on its 2016/2017 budget by between R96 and R125 million due to incapacity, poor programme implementation and problems with transferring functions from the Department of Trade and Industry.

This projected underspend represents a staggering 7% to 9% of its budget. Recent statements by Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, claiming that she needs more money to fulfil her mandate are absurd if she cannot even spend what has already been budgeted.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Global Entrepreneurship Congress cavalcade rolls into town

Last week the Global Entrepreneurship Congress cavalcade descended on South Africa, making a two-city stop in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Billed as the biggest entrepreneurship get-together of its kind, it reportedly attracted 7 000 delegates from 160 countries. Judging by the variety of attires I brushed past in the Sandton Convention Centre over the two days I attended that was hardly an exaggeration.

GEC is one of several initiatives and programmes of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, including Global Entrepreneurship Week, the Global Entrepreneurship Index, the Global Business Angels Network and Start Up Nations, “aimed at creating one global entrepreneurial ecosystem”.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa gave the keynote address, while Mayor of Johannesburg Herman Mashaba welcomed us all to the host city, giving a taster of how he intends transforming Johannesburg into an entrepreneurial powerhouse.