From the editor


Finweek English Edition - - CONTENTS -

2016 hasn’t been kind to South Africa, and it’s likely to get a lot worse, if one be­lieves some of the pre­dic­tions in this week’s cover story. It is no se­cret that or­gan­ised busi­ness and Na­tional Trea­sury have been work­ing non-stop to try and avert a credit rat­ings downgrade to junk, but with­out all parts of gov­ern­ment, par­tic­u­larly the Pres­i­dency, pulling in the same di­rec­tion, those at­tempts will only keep the wolves at bay for so long.

Two weeks ago, I took part in sani2c, a three-day moun­tain bike race that cov­ers about 260km from Un­der­berg to Scot­tburgh in KwaZulu-Natal. It was a re­minder of what can be achieved in this coun­try when all the mov­ing parts are pulling in the same di­rec­tion. I sim­ply have never seen co-oper­a­tion on such a scale be­tween nu­mer­ous ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, farm­ers, com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions, schools, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and ma­jor listed com­pa­nies.

The re­sult is a world-class event, the largest of its kind, which brings in mil­lions for the di­rect ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the race. Im­por­tantly, the money isn’t handed out as do­na­tions, but paid for ser­vices ren­dered – for ex­am­ple a ru­ral com­mu­nity tak­ing own­er­ship of build­ing and main­tain­ing the sin­gle track cross­ing their piece of land.

The re­sult has been sub­stan­tial job cre­ation in the run-up to and dur­ing the event, with nu­mer­ous per­ma­nent jobs cre­ated and lo­cal busi­nesses started thanks to the skills trans­fer that has taken place over the past 11 years. In 2015, R8.3m was paid to di­rect ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the race; the eco­nomic im­pact on the re­gion (in­clud­ing e.g. spend­ing on ac­com­mo­da­tion, food, etc.) is es­ti­mated at more than R35m.

Not bad for an event that re­ally started as a dream of Glen Haw, an avid sports­man and dairy farmer, in the late 1990s, and fi­nally came to fruition in 2005 with 600 rid­ers. (This year, 4 500 rid­ers par­tic­i­pated, and the event has been bro­ken up to ac­com­mo­date three con­sec­u­tive start­ing days.)

For me, the hos­pi­tal­ity and sup­port from com­mu­ni­ties along the route, par­tic­u­larly in the spec­tac­u­lar Umko­maas val­ley, was un­doubt­edly the high­light of the race. As some­one who would never cy­cle alone on the nu­mer­ous tracks in and around Jo­han­nes­burg, it is worth men­tion­ing that my only safety con­cern on the route was re­lated to keep­ing my col­lar­bones in­tact.

The risk is that the whole race can go up in smoke if a sin­gle landowner pulls out, or a com­mu­nity protests on race day, or one rider gets vi­o­lently robbed of a bi­cy­cle, as so of­ten hap­pens else­where in the coun­try.

Our politi­cians would do well to ask Farmer Glen and his count­less part­ners along the route how they keep it all to­gether.

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