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A man who really means business

By Bathathe Guluva | 2010-11-23 08:31:53.0

EVERYONE of us, Guluva believes, can do with a bit of good news, especially during these times of tenderpreneurship madness, rampant plunder of state resources by the politically connected, cronyism, tender rigging, corruption and widespread neglect of civic duties.

Who else to provide us with renewed hope for the country's future than Dr Sam Motsuenyane, doyen of Mzansi's black businesspeople and by far the longest-serving president of the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce?

After leading the organisation for a record 22 years the widely respected business leader and trained agriculturist retired to the tranquil surroundings of Winterveldt, north of Pretoria.

But the abject poverty faced by his people worried him no end.

While government apparatchiks were procrastinating and haggling over this policy or that policy, the octogenarian worked quietly in the background to reverse the dire situation. He mobilised demoralised members of the community and encouraged them to use their plots to start a joint citrus project.

The initiative has given rise to more than 20 citrus farmers, who together produced more than 1000 tons of fruit last year, which they sold to major chain stores such as Pick n Pay. They now have their destiny in their own hands.

Inspired by the success of the Winterveldt project, Motsuenyane went on to launch the Rural Development Foundation to promote "sustainable development in rural areas through the production of agricultural produce with access to markets".

Here is a man who means business, which is more than Guluva can say about Nafcoc, the organisation he left in 1992.

Once the pride of black business, Nafcoc has over the past 18 years been preoccupied more by power squabbles, infighting, incompetence, mismanagement and financial irregularities than advancing the interests of black businesspeople.

It has become a shadow of its former self and is said to be effectively bankrupt to the extent that it can't even afford to buy a printing cartridge.

This is the same organisation planning to hold a conference in Durban this weekend under the theme: "Economic transformation is our priority".

Guluva thinks the beleaguered organisation - which these days sadly takes its cue from its investment company Nafhold - should rather put its priorities on transforming itself first than even thinking of transforming Mzansi's economy, which is way out of its area of competence.

Ubuntu versus gloom

Despite the dark and gloom that hang over Mzansi, Guluva is happy that some of the things that bind us together as a nation are still there and working for us.

Ubuntu is one of the concepts that make Mzansi the country of choice.

It's our ubuntu that made Ernst Middendorp, coach of Premier Soccer League club Maritzburg United, decide to dump his motherland, Germany, and consider settling down in our country.

In an interview with Sowetan's sister newspaper, The Sunday Times, the man nicknamed Mazinyo because of his big, long teeth said: "If I go to Frankfurt (in Germany) and just greet someone I don't know, you get the feeling you have just insulted someone. Here (in Mzansi) it doesn't matter. It's open-minded. You can start a discussion with anybody."

Coming from someone with a combustible temper that has landed him in trouble more times than he cares to remember, you can rest assured that South Africans really do care.

  • This is a column written by Bathathe Guluva

Email Guluva on: thatha.guluva@gmail.com.

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