Tag Archive: South Africa Economy


In September 2011, Softline launched the Sage Business Index in South Africa. Softline joined the Sage Group plc eight years ago and while the group had run the Index a year prior, South Africa did not participate. The Sage Business Index surveys small businesses across Europe, North America, South Africa and Asia, aims to reveal a definitive landscape for small businesses confidence, concerns and challenges on a bi-annual basis.

With the 2012 annual Sage Business Index fast approaching, we took a quick step back to review the results of the half year research conducted in March this year. Polling over 10 000 businesses across four continents, the Index showed that while confidence in the global economic outlook continued to decline, the outlook for local market conditions and businesses was improving. Interestingly, South Africans were slightly more pessimistic than their global counterparts about the outlook for the global economy, with a 1.21 decrease in the Index score, compared to the .52 decrease of the global sample at the time.

In March, CEO of Softline and Sage AAMEA (Africa, Asia, Middle East and Australia), Ivan Epstein said that it was encouraging to see that once again, businesses in South Africa were more confident about their own prospects. He went on to say that companies are focussed on the day-to-day challenge of maintaining and improving their businesses, and Government should do all they can to harness and help the entrepreneurial spirit that already exists.

Epstein said that he was interested in researching the impact of increasing fuel prices on local sentiment. With this week’s additional price hike, it’s clear that business and consumers alike are facing challenges.

The Index scores in March 2012 and September 2011 were as follows:

March ’12 September 11
Index Scores Global SA Global SA
Global economic confidence 43.95 44.71 44.47 45.92
Country Economic Confidence 47.26 46.11 47.11 44.10
Business Outlook 58.86 64.44 57.88 62.58

(Below 50 is decline/less confident above 50 is improvement/more confident, 50 is no different)*

The results in March 2012 also outlined that while local confidence was increasing and the rate of decline in global confidence slowing, there were still a number of challenges facing businesses. Rising inflation and the increasing cost of fuel, energy and raw materials topped the list with all countries citing this as their top concern – with 58% of local businesses listing this as their number one concern. Over a third of South African businesses noted instability or uncertainty in the local economic market as a worry, and a similar proportion (34%) said the same of reduced cash flow in the supply chain.

In anticipation of the upcoming Index, Epstein says that the Index has proven itself as a vital tool for Softline and Sage in the region to take stock of the challenges and worries affecting customers. “I hope that the upcoming results show us that the sentiment amongst businesses remain stable given the current economic climate.”

BEE123 Panel Debate

By Thulani Fakude - Business Development Executive at BEE123

Thulani Fakude  (BEE123 Business Development Executive) , Kganki Matabane (Director, Transformation and Internal Affairs – BUSA),  Don Mkhwanzi (Member of the Presidential B-BBEE Council), Herman Radali, (BMF JHB Chair)  Saul Symanowitz (BEE123 Divisional Director) and Nkululeko Silimela, (BMF JHB EXCO)

Thulani Fakude (BEE123 Business Development Executive) , Kganki Matabane (Director, Transformation and Internal Affairs – BUSA), Don Mkhwanzi (Member of the Presidential B-BBEE Council), Herman Radali, (BMF JHB Chair)
Saul Symanowitz (BEE123 Divisional Director) and Nkululeko Silimela, (BMF JHB EXCO)

BEE123, a subsidiary of Softline Pastel, hosted its first Panel Debate on the 12 June 2012 entitled “18 years on…has BEE missed the mark”.  Co-hosts for the evening were the Black Management Forum.

The event was massively oversubscribed with approximately 300 guests in attendance.

The panellists’ comprised the following thought leaders in the BEE space:

  • Don Mkhwanazi, BEE Pioneer and Member of the Presidential B-BBEE Council
  • Kganki Matabane, Director, Transformation and Internal Affairs – BUSA
  • Teddy Daka, Executive Chairman, Tedaka Technologies
  • Lerato Ratsoma, Managing Director of Empowerdex
  • Jacob Maphutha, Director of BEE Partnerships and Stakeholder Engagement, DTI

The debate was facilitated by respected and prominent journalist and  3rd Degree executive producer Debora Patta.

Debora Patta

Debora Patta

Deliberations on the topic highlighted that, BEE has faced a number of challenges/ shortcomings but remained an essential policy to transform South Africa’s economic landscape. Panellist’s also encouraged companies to move from a tick- box approach to an attitude/culture of transformation that embraces BBBEE implementation as a mechanism aimed at addressing inequalities and mobilising the energy of all South Africans, to ensure that our country  achieves its full economic potential wherein together  we contribute to  sustained economic growth, development and social transformation.

Denis Becket (prominent social commentator and journalist ) with Saul Symanowitz (BEE123 Divisional Director)

Denis Becket (prominent social commentator and journalist )
with Saul Symanowitz (BEE123 Divisional Director)

Moreover, panellist’s sighted an on-going concern that fronting in corporate companies continues to persist. Thereby welcoming changes to the BBEE Act of 2003, as a significant milestone towards ensuring that such negative practices don’t continue to set us back in the pursuit towards the establishment of an equitable society.

Closing on a positive note, Mr Kganki Matabane of BUSA indicated that there has been an increased adoption of BBBEE within various businesses that have demonstrated commitment to transformation and empowerment of its greatest assets; the men and women who selflessly contribute to the sustainability and profitability of these corporations. Furthermore, Don Mkwananzi of the BBBEE Presidential Council commended BEE123 for the tools it has developed towards assisting companies to better understand and implement BBBEE in their respective companies.

BEE123 is a newly launched division of Softline Pastel.

BEE123 is South Africa’s leading a one-stop BEE Portal that offers a complete range of useful tools, software, news, information and BEE network partners ensuring that BEE is easy to understand and implement. Developed using Softline Pastel’s infrastructure, and with a partner network of South Africa’s leading Verification Agencies and BEE service providers, BEE123 is at the cutting-edge of the BEE services industry.

Web: www.bee123.co.za

Email: info@bee123.co.za

Tel: 0861 BEE123 (233 123)

by Rob Wilkie, CFO Softline and Sage AAMEA

Rob Wilkie

Rob Wilkie

In about May 2010, President Zuma set up a National Planning Commission (NPC) under the leadership of Trevor Manual. The brief was to take an independent and critical view of the country (Task 1) and to draw up a vision and plan that would take South Africa to 2030 (Task 2). The primary objective of the plan was to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality; these being the two biggest problems facing the nation.

Task 1 was completed in June 2011 with the presentation of a diagnostic report describing the countries 9 most significant challenges. It’s not hard to guess what these were:

  1. A sub-standard quality of education for the majority of black learners. More than 25,000 schools dysfunctional;
  2. Too few South Africans are employed. Official unemployment at 26%;
  3. A public health system in distress. Total deaths in the country doubled in the past 10 years and life expectancy now 49 years.
  4. A divided society. Divisions in all societies still persisting 17 years after the abolishment of apartheid.
  5. Poor public service performance with leadership and skills deficits, corruption and bribery, political interference and erosion of accountability.
  6. Informal settlements that marginalise the poor. Massive divisions in settlement patterns being a legacy of apartheid.
  7. Inadequate infrastructure with generation of missing investment in roads, rail, ports, electricity, water sanitation and public transport.
  8. A growth path highly dependent on natural resource exploitation but unsustainable in a world seeking to protect the environment.
  9. Corruption undermining state legitimacy and accountability.

Task 2 is not yet complete and is by far the most difficult part of the plan.

In the 2012/2013 budget Speech, government gave much attention to two of the nine key issues identified, infrastructure and job creation. Infrastructure investment expansion was listed as a priority with approved and budgeted plans of R845 bn announced. There was also a particular focus on the unemployed and an additional R4.8 bn was allocated to an expanded public works programme and new Jobs Fund.

We know that government’s strength is in policy making and not in the execution and implementation thereof. We also know that even if government could build schools, it can’t make children go to school; government can pay social grants but cannot create the necessary jobs required. Government needs parents, teachers and the business community to do this. For the National development Plan to succeed it therefore needs all of us to be active citizens – government, business and communities.

The Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Wen Jiabao was asked how China could possibly deal with its poverty and environmental problems given their immense scale. He answered by saying that when you multiply a problem by 1,3 bn (people) it is insurmountable, but when you divide it by 1,3 bn, it is easily solved.