Monday, 30 June 2014

A guideline for Minister Lindiwe Zulu

This week the Parliamentary portfolio committees sit for the second time in the current session, having elected their chairpersons last week. In an unusual arrangement, members of the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development will attend not only their own but also those of Trade & Industry and Economic Development.

The reason, presumably, is that this new department will have to sequester a number of duties, functions and agencies from the other two in order to do its job. A fair amount of bargaining and arm-twisting needs to happen before the department’s shape is determined.

Diana a winner in the Sanlam Financial Journalism Awards

A huge Well Done to my wife Diana Lucas Chance who won her category in the Sanlam Financial Journalism Awards on June 19th! These are the most prestigious awards for excellence in financial journalism in South Africa. I am so proud of her. Have a look here for more info.

She is seen here accepting her award from Peter Vundla, Convener of the Panel of Judges, and Johan van Zyl, CEO of Sanlam.

She won in the category African Growth Story for a programme broadcast last year on Carte Blanche on the African Leadership Academy, which featured young entrepreneurs from Kenya, South Africa and other African countries. It portrayed the amazing talent and innovative businesses found in our continent, an inspiration for entrepreneurs aspiring to great things across Africa.

I can't help linking her success to my role as the Shadow Minister of Small Business Development in Parliament - we share the same vision, through and through, and will go all the way to showcase deserved success wherever we find it. Of course, to allay possible accusations of collusion, I must point out she produced the programme before I was appointed to this position. But I won't hesitate to send programme ideas to Carte Blanche that beat the drum of entrepreneurship. It's up to them to decide on their programming schedule on merit.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

State of the Nation Debate

This week in Parliament was taken up by the State of the Nation Address by Jacob Zuma and the subsequent debate. For the first time I was introduced to the Rules of the House in practice, and the strict formalities MPs have to adhere to while in the chamber. For me it meant watching and listening from the benches, but for Julius Malema and his fellow EFF MPs it meant ejection from the House on its third sitting. Only Malema was ordered to leave the chamber by the Chairperson, Thandi Modise (apparently the speaker Baleka Mbethe is ill) but when he rose to depart all his colleagues followed suit. They did so in a most undignified manner, shouting obscenities at the Chair and Jacob Zuma and causing the maximum amount of disruption and noise. One of them tried to grab the microphone next to DA MP Alf Lees, but his quick reaction stopped it just in time.

Small business development: Long on promises, short on delivery

Stories such as Sizwe Nzima, a young entrepreneur running a business in Khayelitsha delivering chronic medication to local residents using bicycles are only too few. Sizwe was recently named one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 best African entrepreneurs under 30. The Western Cape Department of Health and the Raymond Ackerman Academy of Entrepreneurial Development at the University of Cape Town are now helping formalise the business, enabling him to take advantage of the huge latent demand for his services.                               
Photo of Sizwe Nzima courtesy of

Monday, 16 June 2014

Massacre, liberalism, tragedy and hope

The past week has been one of extreme highs and lows for me, on an intellectual and emotional level. It started with watching the film Miners Shot Down, and a few minutes ago I learned of the death of a dear friend and colleague that has left me bereft and deeply saddened. This is made all the more poignant by the fact that today is Youth Day, when we commemorate the lives of 23 young people who paid the ultimate sacrifice standing up for what they believed to be right in Soweto on this day in 1976. There are ceremonies taking place all over the country as we somberly reflect on the progress we have made, or not made, in the succeeding 38 years. But I want to dedicate this day to the late Clyde Finlayson, his dear wife Simone and their family.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Trading at the Castle

On Friday Diana, her sister Carolyn and I visited a fabulous pop up market in the Cape Town castle, Trading at the Castle, a joint initiative between Kamers vol Geskenke and the Cape Craft & Design Initiative. It was billed as an official Cape Town World Design Capital event and just as we were leaving we bumped into WDC CEO Alayne Reesberg, who has much to be proud about with this showcase of craft and design from the Western Cape. It was a pity we did not have more time (we were on our way to the airport) because every one of the 110 stall holders had something wonderful to offer.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Shadow Minister for Small Business Development

Today I was appointed Shadow Minister for Small Business Development in Mmusi Maimane's first shadow cabinet. My deputy is Hendrik Kruger who hails from Emalahleni (formerly Witbank) in Mpumalanga. Like Mmusi's other appointees, I received his letter while sitting in the DA caucus meeting this morning, just as Helen Zille was addressing us. It came as a big shock, but a very welcome surprise nevertheless. As the DA has been saying for many months now, the most important issue facing the country is how to get our economy moving again so it can create jobs, and so lift millions of people out of poverty and desperation. The spotlight will fall on the Small Business Development Ministry for it is tasked with creating the conditions for small businesses to emerge and thrive. The National Development Plan estimates that 80% of new jobs will come from small business. We have a massive task ahead.