IEC refuses to pay for work done on its behalf & has still not responded to this letter

The Electoral Commission
Mr Terry Tselane, Vice-Chairperson

Election House
Riverside Park

Dear Sir,

Re: Victor Dlamini : Unpaid Fees for Services Rendered

1. After numerous attempts to get you and the IEC to pay me the money you owe me, I have been left with no choice but to bring this matter to the attention of the Public Protector. I believe the Public Protector will establish the truth and restore to me the payment that has been unjustly withheld from me by you and the IEC.

2. I have forwarded to the office of the Public Protector this account of what I believe constitutes a gross abuse of the office of the Deputy Chairperson of the IEC.

3. In August of 2013 you personally approached me and enquired if I would be willing and available to assist the IEC with strategic communications consulting services. I also received a WhatsApp message from the Deputy Electoral Officer, Dr Nomsa Masuku to the same effect

4. You asked me to meet with you at the residence of Sello Chicco Twala in Athol, Sandton. At this meeting you impressed upon me the urgency of the situation and the pressure that the IEC was facing in dealing with this unusual negative perception so near to the holding of the Provincial & National Elections in 2014

5. In terms of your requirement, you wanted me to use my skills as a reputation management expert to help restore the image & reputation of the IEC after the report of the Public Protector into the lease of the IEC offices in Centurion

6. You confided in me that you believed that the actions of the then Chair of the IEC, Advocate Pansy Tlakula had brought the IEC into disrepute and you wished to reinforce the readiness of the IEC for the elections & to distance her problems from the prospects of the IEC to deliver Free & Fair Elections

7. I met your team and we entered into a signed agreement and I began working on this IEC project at the beginning of October 2013. The agreed fee was R150 000 per month, exclusive of VAT

8. As you know, I used my company, Chillibush Communications which I chaired from 2004 for the purposes of the legal agreement. But for the purposes of the delivery of the services, I was personally responsible for fulfilling the relevant strategic consultancy services

9. Throughout the period in question I worked with you and various members of your executive team, including Dr Nomsa Masuku, Ms Lydia Young, Mr Marco Granelli as well as your commission members including the commissioners, Reverend Bongani Finca & Raenette Taljaard

10. Throughout the period in question you used to call on me to meet you at the IEC offices in Centurion as well as at various restaurants including Signature in Sandton. You also relied much on telephonic briefings, especially when you were travelling. You would even give your hotel room numbers so that I could call you for the regular briefings

11. I was present at many of your public media announcements at your offices in Centurion, at Gallagher Estates, at Montecasino as well as the Elections Results Centre in Pretoria

12. I had card access to your offices and an office at your offices in Centurion as well as card access to the Elections Results Centre at the Pretoria Show Grounds. This should indicate beyond any doubt that you considered me an integral part of your team and thus gave me unfettered access to your offices and operational areas

13. My nightmare began when I presented my invoices for payment for the services rendered from January 2014 to June 2014. At first I was told that my payment was being processed. I made several calls to Dr Masuku who assured me that the payment would be processed and as a key contact person I trusted her assurance.

14. But as the days and weeks turned into a month and more and no payment was forthcoming from the IEC, I became worried. When I started my enquires I phoned Dr Masuku again, I phoned you (Mr Tselane) and I also phoned the CEO, Mr Mosotho Moepya. Still no clear answer was provided as to why there was a delay in the payment

15. To date I have never been paid for the services I rendered in good faith to the IEC. I believe that this is a gross violation of my rights. It is furthermore incomprehensible to me why the IEC would call on me to sort out its reputation crisis at the time and then renege on its agreement to pay

16. I am baffled why the IEC was happy to pay me the services I provided to you for the period 1 October 2013 until 31 December 2013 but then turned around and refused to pay me for the period starting in January till the end of the elections

17. I am not a lawyer, but the simple fact that you and the IEC continued to use my services during the period in question was a clear indication that the agreement was still in effect

18. It is also worth noting that the IEC only gave me an office in February of 2014. If it did not consider the agreement to be in force, why would it allocate me an office on the second floor, in close proximity to the Commissioners

19. What was particularly vexing and painful to me is why you would deny via your lawyers that you had received the services you had so urgently sought me to deliver to the IEC. Your lawyers wrote this to me: Our client denies that your client rendered any of the services referred to in Appendix A to the written agreement (being the scope of services) during the period after 31 December 2013 as alleged in paragraph 6 of your letter, or that it did so at our client’s instance. 

20. I have made many attempts to extract the payment from your organisation, including calls to the CEO Mr Mosotho Moepya, yourself, Dr Masuku. But you have never paid me

21. At one point I called Mr Moepya and he didn’t take my call. When I eventually spoke to him he told me that when my call came through he was sitting with you and you said he should not take my call. I was baffled by this because I had considered you my primary contact on the IEC matter.

22. I would like to quote paragraphs 12 and 19 of the agreement below as they are presently relevant :-

“12. The agreement will be reviewed on month to month basis shall commence on 01 October 2013 and shall terminate on 31 December 2013. The parties, however, may agree to extend it on a month to month basis until (2) weeks after the 2014 National Provincial Elections, subject to clause 17.1. The services shall be commenced and completed at the times or within the periods stated in the Particular Conditions subject to any extensions in accordance with the agreement.

19. The client (the Electoral Commission) shall pay the consultant (Chillibush Communications) for Normal Services in accordance with the Terms and Conditions of this agreement. The Consultant will be paid an amount of R150 000,00 (one hundred and fifty thousand Rand) per month, which amount is exclusive of VAT. All applicable statutory rules and regulations as determined by the South African Revenue Services are to apply:-

i) Payment shall be executed monthly by the Client in arrears on conditions, and in a manner which the offer designated by the Client may from time to time specify …”

23. In my last formal meeting between myself and your organisation, Dr Masuku advised me to meet your CFO, Ms Fiona Rowley. I was baffled as I had never had any prior contact with Ms Rowley. When I met her in her office, she advised me that the IEC was unable to pay the sum claimed as there was “no contract” due to the contract having expired on 31 December 2013

24. Further Ms Rowley claimed that in December of 2013 the treasury had outlawed retainer fee payments. I explained to her that our agreement had been finalised in October, prior to this claimed lapse of such agreements & therefore such a proclamation could not have any effect on our retainer based agreement

25. She then asked me to submit a time sheet so that, in her own words, ‘the IEC could determine, what, if anything, it owed me’. I obviously refused this attempt to change an agreement that I had entered with the IEC on a clear basis

26. Up to this day I cannot believe that the IEC, an organisation charged with the responsibility for furthering our constitutional democracy would actually refuse to pay for services I delivered with such care and diligence.

27. One does not need to be a lawyer to know that it is simply unbecoming of the IEC to demand and receive my services and then turn around and claim that the contract had expired.

28. Even if you want to argue about the validity of the contract, morally, once you received my services, you are obliged to pay for them. It was your responsibility to ensure that any contractual issues were addressed and in any case not at my expense.

29. If as you allege the contract was not extended, then the IEC would have to explain why it was only too happy to continue using my services. Who did you expect to pay for your continued use of my services?

30. There is no doubt in my mind that the way you have treated me and disregarded my justifiable claims for payment constitutes a gross abuse of your position, your office and the trust I had in the agreement you entered with me.

31. I still hope that this matter will be resolved and that you will not only pay me for the monies due to me but also the interest and the legal fees and the suffering I have endured as a result of your utterly unreasonable and irrational refusal to pay for the services I delivered to the IEC

Yours faithfully

Victor Dlamini


South Africa Finds Its Literary Voice


Portrait of a Nobel Laureate

By all accounts South African literature is enjoying its finest hour. Even as the scandal of dumped and undelivered textbooks in Limpopo was raging, the Polokwane Literary Festival was a welcome respite. That writers could descend on a town whose very name now resonates with the politics of succession and connect with readers was an act of faith in the power of literature. The Bloody Book Week was a great success and it brought to SA fiction A-listers Jeffery Deaver,  John Connolly and Mark Giminez. Jefferey Deaver is known for The Bone Collector that was turned into a movie starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. He has also written the James Bond thriller, Carte Blanche, part of which is set in Cape Town.

Portrait of Zakes Mda


There’s a renewed vibrancy in South African writing and some of the authors are finding devoted audiences both at home and abroad. It is always a great treat to be at a book shop in a foreign country and to stumble across a novel by Lewis Nkosi or Deon Meyer. It’s wonderful to see South African fiction attracting bidding from movie producers for the film rights for their books. The latest to join this list includes Deon Meyer, Margie Orford and Lauren Beukes.


Portrait of a Thriller writer, Margie Orford

The growth in literary events is testimony to the optimism that pervades the industry. From boutique by invitation only private events, to the larger literary festivals, SA has renewed its love affair with books. There is also a healthy presence of private book clubs that can be founded dotted across the country, from Soweto to Umlazi and across the country’s provinces.


Social Media has inspired and carried lively literary debates & Twitter #tags like #mustreadbooks reflect the important role this medium is playing in promoting our literature. Sharing articles and photos has never been easier across Social Media, and much of the shared material reflects growing interest in books and the ideas contained in them. If the literary purists were initially suspicious of Social Media, Twitter has certainly shown that it is a compelling way to share and reflect on literary issues.


The writers Tsitsi Dangarembga, Gcina Mhlophe, Nawal El Saadawi & Kadija George


SA’s youth have been under-served by the market and outside of textbooks, very few titles aim at them in the same way that other markets do. The youth market is an important one as has been seen abroad with titles for the teen market selling in the millions. It is heartening to see Pan Macmillan launch The Youngsters , its series  five pocket-sized books written by young South Africans: Anele Mdoda, Shaka Sisulu, Nik Rabinowitz with Gillian Breslin, Danny K and Khaya Dlanga. Other publishers should join the youth party and bring the voice of youth into fresh writing.

A vibrant literary scene: Anele Mdoda & Mimi Selemela


2012 has in many ways been watershed year for the country’s writers as they find new readers in increasingly large numbers. The popularity of political books has also laid to rest the myth that SA is done with politics. It is important for SA to enhance the vibrancy of the titles on offer as books have to compete for their share of the wallet. This is a time of fundamental change, but also great turmoil. Bookshops are closing down and e-books are claiming a larger share of the market. The growth in mobile digital devices and Apps presents new opportunities for both writers and publishers to reach their readers.Those that still doubt the relevance of e-books and self publishing need only look at the phenomenal success of some of the titles to realize that change is already here.


The writer and artist Breyten Breytenbach

One of the publishing success stories of the year has been Rev Frank Chikane’s Eight Days in September. This book on the Removal of Thabo Mbeki reflects on the unprecedented events surrounding the recall of South Africa‘s president from office in 2008. Nadine Gordimer’s No Time Like The Present has been another literary highlight. In this new novel from the grand dame of South Africa’s literary invites South African book lovers to a story that is at once familiar but also deeply surprising.


Portrait of a poet, Rustum Kozain

It is fair to say that the arrival of a new Gordimer novel is a very serious treat for book lovers across the world. South Africa’s literary universe is a deeply contested one and novels are dismissed or praised in line with deeply held positions. But Gordimer’s literary eye remains as sharp as ever and her storytelling focused on the contradictions that bedevil South Africa’s politics of identity.


Each year, Durban kicks off South Africa’s literary festival with The Time Of The Writer and after that it’s off to the idyllic setting of Franschhoek for the book festival named after this beautiful Winelands village. This festival reflects many of the most telling contradictions that define South Africa. It is set in a tiny village of extreme affluence and the audience has remained a largely white one. It is not a cheap festival to attend as the hotels and restaurants cater to a predominantly well heeled clientele. The village has truly gorgeous venues and the Green Room remains one of the best places to run into a writers for a quiet conversation.


Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka

But the festival has grown quickly and in its sixth year, the Franschhoek Literary Festival once again stuck to its eclectic formula that brings in a mix of the best in South African writing to political debate, environmental issues, genre fiction, poetry, press freedom, publishing and even social media.


The names on this year’s programme included literary big hitters like Imraan Coovadia, Ivan Vladislavic, Michiel Heyns, as well as new writers like McIntosh Polela and Yewande Omotoso. In keeping with the festival’s tradition of drawing speakers from a wide range of genres, satire will feature prominently, with the likes of Gareth Cliff, Ndumiso Ngcobo and Azad Essa likely to heat things up with their irreverent take on things.

Portrait of a novelist, Yewande Omotoso

Lovers of crime fiction were spoilt for choice as top drawer writers Deon Meyer, Marge Orford, Andrew Brown, Joan Hichens brought their voices to the event. In the past the Franschhoek  festival has attracted big hitters like Richard Ford, Andre Brink, Antjie Krog, Mandla Langa and Muriel Barbery. Poetry has featured strongly at the festival, and poets like Gabeba Baderoon, Rustum Kozain and James Matthews have walked the streets of this quaint village.


Novelist Richard Ford


This year saw the return of The Cape Town Book Fair after it was unexpectedly cancelled in 2011. The
relaunch of the festival will coincided with the hosting of the International Publishers Association AGM in the Mother City. But there is no doubt that this once powerful event has lost its way and its return largely confirmed how quickly things can go wrong.  I still remember the excitement when the Cape Town Book Fair was first established. It has faltered as quickly as it had established itself as probably the most important literary and book event in
the country.


Poet Gabeba Baderoon

The Cape Town Book Fair is now planned for every two years. In a historic first for Cape Town, The International Publishers Association held its 29th IPA Congress, the first time it was held in Africa. Other literary events that spring to mind include the Jozi Book Fair, the Mail & Guardian Literary Festival and Poetry Africa, which all  add to the country’s burgeoning literary calendar. The book may be threatened in print form but writers and readers are finding each other in this brave new world where the storytelling remains the supreme arbiter even as the medium changes.


Portrait of a Novelist. Ngugi wa Thiong'o


International writers visit SA on a regular basis and in the past year we’ve hosted the likes of Nawal El Saadawi, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Wole Soyinka, Kwame Dawes, Chris Abani, Kadija George, richard de Nooy, Tsitsi Dangarembga and many others. This shows that SA is a viable destination for the world’s major literary voices and it reflects our interest in literature.


Potrait of a novelist & activist, Nawal El Saadawi


One of the stand-alone events of the year was the visit to South Africa by Zakes Mda, the novelist, dramatist, traveler, teacher, painter and bee-keeper who visited Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg & Pretoria. Mda may have been here to launch his latest play, Our Lady Of Benoni, but his presence in South Africa is always cause for celebration amongst book lovers. His is one of the most authentic voices in SA fiction and his prolific output an important barometer of the health of our fiction.


The writer Bongani Madondo


The passion of people like Phakama Mbonambi, Jenny Crwys Williams, Darryl Accone, Elinor Sisulu, Sandile Ngidi, Jenny Hobbs, Ben Williams, Mmabatho Selemela, Georges Lory, Karabo Kgoleng, Raks Seakhoa, Gcina Mhlophe, Chris Thurman, Bongani Madondo, Peter Rorvik, Vusi Mchunu and others acts as a catalyst for literature’s growth. Sponsors remain a crucial catalyst for realizing these literary events and they should be thanked for playing such a vital role in encouraging reading and making it possible for writers to be seen and not merely read.


Portrait of a writer & walker, the one & only Richard de Nooy


Lewis Nkosi
The writer and his hat: Lewis Nkosi



Commercial Property Sector Has Failed Transformation Test

The Commercial Property sector badly lags behind other sectors in transformation. There are those that say the sector has simply failed the transformation test. Minister of Trade & Industry Rob Davies recently gazetted the Property Sector Charter, but the Black Association of Commercial Property Owners (“BACPO”) has already said the charter represents a huge missed opportunity. Their concern is that the new charter has downplayed the importance of ownership as a catalyst for transforming the sector.


BACPO sees direct ownership and control of property assets as the quickest way for Black entrepreneurs to influence and transform the commercial property industry. For this reason BACPO believes ownership has to be at the heart of the new charter as it will achieve the goals of transformation in the most direct manner. BACPO has already held meetings with various players in the property sector to voice its concerns about aspects of the Property Charter and it is hopeful that a solution will be found.

When the word transformation is mentioned, deal making is often the first thing that comes to mind. But the entrepreneurs that got together to form BACPO have long been in the sector, with one of them building his first commercial property, The Mangalani Mall in Soweto in 1982.  They insist that their focus is to create jobs, build great companies, add value to the sector and use transformation as a catalyst to grow the number of Black landlords.

“Our goal is to increase the number of black landlords that own and operate their own properties. Ownership is the key to unlocking value in commercial property. Anything else is window dressing” adds Bruce Zungu, Secretary of BACPO.

Joe Mathebula, a commercial property developer and the president of BACPO says “For too long transformation has been ignored by the commercial property sector. BACPO believes it is time the big players in the sector embraced transformation and stopped with the excuse” It is the snail pace of transformation in the sector that led Mathebula and the other founders of BACPO to set up their organization. Since the establishment of BACPO, Mathebula has called on all those in the sector to unleash its full economic & transformation potential.

“There is more than enough room for the current players to get decent returns on their investments whilst ensuring that this industry promotes transformation by creating capacity for existing and new black landlords in the sector” Mathebula said recently.

Since its founding it is telling that BACPO has taken its vision of what will create meaningful transformation in the commercial property to the key players within the industry. The group travelled to Cape Town to meet parliament’s portfolio committee on Public Works. The discussions looked at ways to speed up transformation in the commercial property sector in line with Public work’s own policies on transformation.

Since its founding, BACPO has hit the ground running and plans to work closely and harmoniously with the key players in the commercial property sector. These include SAPOA, SAIBPP, the banks, municipalities, provincial governments and the private sector especially the retail sector.

Of these organizations, BACPO has said that it believes government holds the key to accelerated growth the commercial property sector. One statistic is a real surprise and shows the room government has to make an immediate impact on transformation

Only 5% of government leases at national level are held by black landlords . Of the nearly 4000 Department of Public Works national leases, only 186 are held by black landlords. If you look at it in monetary terms, only R120m of the R2.4 billion the department spends on leases annually goes to Black landlords.

This explains BACPO’s lukewarm response to the sector charter as the charter gives ownership a surprisingly low weighting of only 20 points out of 107 points in its measure of transformation. It’s understandable that BACPO would be concerned that ownership counts for roughly 15% of the transformation score in the new charter. This does not seem like the kind of recipe that will pull the sector out of its transformation lethargy.

As Bruce Zungu said “As the charter reads, transformation will continue to be slow and painful for Black people in the property industry unless certain amendments are made around ownership and an actual discussion with Government of potential ways to fast track ownership transformation”

“We started our discussions with government because of its potential to unleash substantial value that is locked within its portfolio. We believe that this will create thousands of jobs and unlock wealth for the wider economy whilst achieving tangible transformation,” explains Mathebula. He adds that BACPO supports government’s goals on Black Economic Empowerment and its objectives on transformation.


“The time for unlocking the potential of the commercial property sector is now and we believe that BACPO is well placed to lead this historic drive’ says Mathebula.

“We can no longer stand on the sidelines and watch this sector drag its feet on the non negotiable issue of transformation. The simple truth is that this sector will remain untransformed unless there is drive to increase the number of Black landlords that own and operate their own properties” adds Joe Mathebula.

Like all the other principals of the companies that founded BACPO, Mathebula is a successful property developer. His Deputy President is Mike Nkuna of Masingita Properties, also a successful property developer. Nkuna will be launching the Protea Glen Mall in September, the latest in a string of high profile malls that he has developed in a career of more than 30 years. Others members of BACPO include the Billion Group, founded by Sisa Ngebulana and developer of huge, highly successful properties such Hemingways in East London.

Typical of the unassuming success of the founders of BACPO is Herbert Cedrik Theledi, Managing Director and Chairperson of Nthwese Investment Group and Nthwese Investment Holdings Consortium. The family owned business grew from its roots in Bushbuckridge to national prominence. Theledi’s entrepreneurial flair has seen him hold his own not only in property but in other businesses such as engineering, warehousing, logistics, motor dealership and distribution industries and Telecoms.

“We believe that the sector has enough people of goodwill and they will join BACPO in ensuring that the commercial property sector embraces rather than resists transformation”  says Bruce Zungu, the Secretary of BACPO.

Transformation remains the R1.9 trillion commercial property sector’s Achilles heel, but organizations like BACPO are determined to ensure that sector plays catch up and  improves its transformation credentials. There is a long way to go, black property owners’ share of the sector currently lies at negligible R10bn, a paltry slice of the R1.9 trillion sector.

It is for this reason that the newly gazetted Property Charter has to focus squarely on ownership if it is to move the sector beyond its low levels of transformation.


Beyoncé is the wrong award

Beyoncé is a wonderful performer, a true phenomenon, one of the seven wonders of global music. But Big Concerts or Morris Rhoda can bring her to SA, not the Ministry of Sports. It defies logic that an event that is called the SA Sports Awards should be headlined by one of the most expensive global superstars.

If the Minister of Sports wants to dazzle his guests at the event, he can call on so many of South Africa’s superstars. Just imagine Hugh Masekela, Thandiswa Mazwai, Letta Mbulu, Die Antwoord, Simphiwe Dana, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Black Coffee, Bakithi Khumalo & Jonathan Butler performing for rapt audiences at the Sports Awards. That would be more than all the awesome that Beyoncé can bring to any event.

Our country is blessed with some of the world’s most original artists and our government has no reason to import US pop stars to an event that celebrates SA excellence. At a time when we go out to the world to convince it of our global stature, it is self defeating not to use our own platforms to showcase the cream of our talent. What’s even more galling is that for Beyoncé, the amount she would be paid would be little more than a drop in the ocean. For many South African artists, such an amount would be a significant and responsible investment. On top of that they would give the audience an unforgettable, world class experience.

It’s not even a question of where the money is coming from. Even if there’s a private sector sponsor, or a wealthy billionaire that wants to rub shoulders with Beyoncé, it would still be irresponsible for Minister Mbalula to allow so much money to be squandered under his watch. There is simply no compelling rationale that links importing a high priced pop star with the SA Sports Awards.

As journalist Gus Silber said, with appropriate sarcasm, “It’s fine for Beyoncé to sing at the SA Sports Awards, as long as Bafana get to play at the Grammys.”

Tshepo Mashile admonishes the Minister “Poor form Fikile, poor form. There’s no connection between Beyonce and sport. She should rather perform as part of her tour. What a waste”

Perhaps the Minister need look no further than South Africa’s own sports stars to find someone that can dazzle and inspire a sports audience. We have so many stars from golf, rugby, swimming, football, athletics and boxing. Many of them are global role models and they can inspire and motivate those at the awards. The problem with a big pop star is that it turns the awards evening into just another music gig, albeit an expensive one. But hardly anyone remembers the winners on the night.

As Thabo Ndabula “the same international artists that come here for the awards, know nothing about the nominee’s. Its just another gig for them”

Actor and musician Clint Brink takes it further when he says “ When they brought out Vivica A Fox & Brandy I was really pissed off, its a slap in the face of our own people”

Expensive events like the SA Sports Awards show the extent to which SA has become a country in which spectacle holds sway. For a little bit of glamour, many speeches and many millions later, the attention of SA sports lovers is fixed on a single event that diverts funds away from much needed development. These glitzy events, where so many awards are dished out do absolutely nothing for sports that is sustainable.

It is also interesting that the culture of awards ceremonies is taking place at precisely that moment when SA sport is going through one of its most barren spells. Bafana Bafana have not qualified for the African Nations Cup, the Springboks, Proteas and Banyana Banyana have not lifted a trophy in a longtime. Only at the individual level have you had success. So there is really very little achievement to be rewarded. Like many of these award ceremonies, the dishing out of many awards in one evening reduces the very value they may have if there were few, highly deserved ones.

To complicate matters even more,  you have the Provincial Sports Awards, such as the Gauteng Sports Awards. You have to ask why is there no co-ordination so that there is one event at which awards are handed out. This would be a much more effective and costly way of satisfying those with an urge to dish out awards.

To reiterate, the trouble really is not Beyoncé, but the idea that she can be invited to perform when SA has so many world class performers that would grab the opportunity to headline such an event. Even if they are added to the lineup, it galls that they should be support acts in their own country.

Enough with these US pop stars at SA Sports Awards. The reported R50m price tag for the event is truly scandalous. of this a staggering R17m would be for less than an hour of Beyoncé’s time.  In a country where the social calendars of the elite are crammed with invitations to endless events, the Sports Awards is simply yet another evening out for the pampered classes. But with a little imagination and less razzmatzz, such monies could be put to better use elsewhere.

The last word belongs to Zuzi Seoka who says “Instead of funding sports development, Mbalula would rather spend millions bringing Beyonce to the sports awards! Priorities? Nonexistent”