Are we acting in the best interest of the maritime industry?

Have you noticed how many people are simply just acting within the top echelons of the maritime-related governing bodies, organisations and SOEs in South Africa?  The recent announcement of a permanent CEO for the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) means that there is one less acting CEO, but the lack of certainty of many positions remains unchanged.

A promise to appoint a permanent CEO to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) by June this year never materialised despite a second call for applications for the position. In the meantime, Sobantu Tilayi has been acting in this capacity since 2016. I cannot even imagine the stress associated with seeing your position advertised over and over again – applying for it and then just simply being expected to accept the status quo when no definitive move to make a decision seems forthcoming.

A similar situation exists within the Department of Transport (DoT) where Dumisani Ntuli has been holding the position of Acting Deputy Director General: Maritime Transport for a number of years. This position was also recently advertised by the Department, but no announcement has been made of a permanent appointment.

But perhaps more alarming is the way in which Transnet deals with their leadership issues – where allegations against permanent appointees result in suspension and the appointment of acting management. In a segment broadcast by Carte Blanche recently that aimed to highlight inefficiencies at container terminals, Captain Sarno of MSC Shipping noted that the lack of permanent appointees that could be held accountable was a problem.

One just has to cast an eye to the top tiers of management across both Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) as well as Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) to note that the leadership structure is hampered by the lack of permanently appointed and credible heads that can be held accountable.

Compare this, if you will, to the stable decade-long leadership of Bisey Gerson/Uirab who officially stood down as Chief Executive Officer of Namport a few months ago. And compare the strides made in this time to attract business to the port, develop the port and acquire infrastructure to the detriment of competitor ports in the region.

Actors in the maritime industry:

  • Sobantu Tilayi: Acting CEO, SAMSA
  • Dumisani Ntuli: Acting Deputy Director General: Maritime Affairs, Department of Transport
  • Mohammed Mohamedy: Acting CEO, Transnet
  • Richard Vallihu: Acting COO, Transnet
  • Mark Gregg-MacDonald, Acting CFO, Transnet
  • Sanet Vorster, Acting CHR, Transnet
  • Michelle Phillips, Acting CEO, Transnet Port Terminals
  • Nozipho Ndawe, Acting CEO, Transnet National Ports Authority

If your dreams can fit into your pocket – they are not big enough

Back: Arielle Kuper of Solution Strategies and Clare Gomes, Chairperson of WISTA-SA. Middle: Paula Giusti of Trade Ocean and Jane Cotton of One Eighty. Front Nolwandle Mboweni of Vela International and Eva Moloi of Vice Chairperson of WISTA-SA.

It is not often that you walk away from a maritime industry function feeling inspired to dream bigger, but I left last night’s WISTA-SA’s networking meeting feeling resolute to follow through on some major plans for 2020.

“If your dreams can fit into your pocket – they are not big enough,” Nolwandle Mboweni, CEO of Vela International told WISTA members.

With roots in teaching that continue to define the way she interacts in industry, Nolwandle was nudged into the business world by her father and her husband. Today she is lightyears away from the classroom as she occupies seats in a number of boardrooms – and is currently actively seeking new opportunities in the maritime sector.

Patting her hip pocket and smiling, she was clear that pocket-sized dreams would not have helped her participate in delivering the Gautrain – Africa’s first high-speed train or seen her become a director of companies such as Afrisun Gauteng, Total SA, Allpay Gauteng and more.

Ariella Kuper’s energetic and entertaining description of her road to becoming a major player in the ship auctioning business was equally as inspiring.

“Stars need darkness to shine,” she enthused, telling WISTA members that she had actively sought out male-dominated environments during her career.

Having started out in the steel sector almost by accident and by subsequently “tricking” her way into a job at Macsteel, Ariella’s career culminated in her co-founding the biggest mining auction house in South Africa.

But, following two bouts of cancer, she decided to regroup and focus on what had become a passion for ship auctions. Now she heads up Solution Strategist and is actively involved in ensuring that tonnage moves hands.

For Paula Giusti the path to the maritime sector was also accidental. Arriving in South Africa from Argentina 20 years ago with an agriculture qualification and in need of employment, it was her ability to speak Spanish that landed her a job at a ships’ agency.

Now she is driven by a desire to see Cape Town amplify its position as a super yachting destination and is working with industry players to promote this exciting niche maritime market.

Host for the evening, Janet Cotton of One Eighty has had no less inspirational journey in a very male-dominated sub sector of the industry. She’s the person to call if you need more information about mechanical or structural failures on your vessels or equipment.

Like many women in the industry she has had a number of laughable interactions based on her decision to show up in a workshop environment where she now commands respect.

The services of the One Eighty laboratory in Cape Town is used by many insurers and companies to help piece together the puzzles associated with equipment failure and, in many cases, provides a better understanding of how to prevent similar occurrences in future.

One thing is clear – none of these women ever kept their dreams in their pockets. They now represent significant clout in their respective sectors and are helping eliminate stereotypical reactions to the presence of women in the maritime domain.

 

Appoint of contention

With a number of vacancies currently on its Executive Management Team, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is in a unique position to address its gender balance during the IMO World Maritime Day themed year of “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community” by appointing relevant, strong maritime women.

According to SAMSA’s website there are at least three (possibly four since the retirement of Nigel Campbell last year) positions available on its executive team – including the long-empty position of Chief Executive Officer.

With only one woman currently listed on the 11-member team, now is the time for SAMSA to appoint for a more balanced and reflective team.  With two women on its Board, they represent 40 percent of SAMSA’s rather diminished Board of five – a better statistic, but more symptomatic of a Board that has been slowly whittled away, than indicative of a concerted effort to show gender diversity (in my opinion).

Compared to some of the other major African Maritime Authorities, SAMSA still falls somewhat short. The Kenya Maritime Authority includes four women on its 15-person Board of Directors, while Ghana Maritime Authority boasts four out of 13 on its management team.

Nigeria’s Authority (Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency – NIMASA) fares the worst, however. With four men on the Executive Management Team there is clearly no space for a woman. The representation on the NIMASA Board is equally as dismal with only one woman on the 11-member team.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has themed this year’s World Maritime Day “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community” – a challenge to the industry that has long been male-dominated. Interestingly IMO, itself, may want to heed its own call as Kitack Lim, the current Secretary General, nears the end of his term that began in 2016.

It’s certainly an opportunity for the international body to lead by example and look to appoint its first female Secretary General. It is impossible to believe that there are no women capable of stepping up to this challenge.

Happy International Women’s Day!


[All statistics are based on information available on each Authority’s website and assumes that their listings are accurate and up-to-date.]

Weekly Press Review – 21 May 2018

Transnet has appointed a new CFO after a scandal involving the Gupta family. According to the press, Transnet has appointed Mohammed Mahomedy as the interim chief financial officer to take over from Garry Pita who resigned last month amid the financial scandal.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has also appointed a new Transnet interim board and removed the utility’s three remaining board members: Seth Radebe, Potso Mathekga and Zainul Nagdee.

“Transnet is facing serious allegations of maladministration and corruption. The previous board had not demonstrated appreciation of the seriousness of issues at hand or the ability to deal with these decisively in order to protect the entity in the interest of South Africa,” said Gordhan.

The share price of JSE-listed Premier Fishing & Brands rose 5.13 percent after the company delivered solid returns despite tough economic and environmental conditions.

According to the press, Samier Saban, chief executive of Premier said, “I am pleased with our interim results and the progress Premier has made against our strategy to date.”

Yoshi, the loggerhead turtle has made her way to the shallower waters off the Angolan coast. According to the press, the Two Oceans Aquarium team has reported that Yoshi appears to be enjoying her time along the Angolan coast.

“It is much shallower where she currently finds herself, so she is probably having a bit if a feeding frenzy,” said an aquarium spokesperson.

Yoshi was released from the Two Oceans Aquarium in December about 27 nautical miles off Hout Bay. She was fitted with a satellite tag allowing researchers to track her journey for the next three years.

In a follow-up to last week’s story regarding the Shark Spotters crowd-funding project to raise funds for new binoculars, we are happy to report that after a donation of R20,000 from the Chinese community’s Southern African North-east Chamber of Commerce, Shark Spotters reached their R60,000 goal for the new binoculars.

According to the press, Shark Spotters chief executive Sarah Weis said, “This will enable spotters to have the best tools to keep people safe. They will be able to see things further; and to identify threats and species of shark.”

The People’s Republic of China deputy consul general in Cape Town, Cao Li said, ”It feels good to be able to help, to increase the value of wildlife protection. This organisation protects our lives and the sharks’ lives.”

Weekly Press Review – 14 May 2018

The False Bay Shark Spotters have made headlines this week with their appeal to the public to support the organisation’s crowd-funding platform, BackaBuddy.

A large part of the Shark Spotters portfolio is looking for sharks in the water using binoculars. The organisation needs 35 new pairs of binoculars at a cost of R60,000 and so the BackaBuddy campaign was launched. An amount of R34,260 has already been raised.

“Sharks are not easy to spot, unlike whales and dolphins, we rarely see their dorsal fin or other body parts above water, which is why we need increased visibility.

“The binoculars that we have are dated and most are in a state of disrepair. We hope the public will support our BackaBuddy campaign to empower us to keep our waters safe,” said Sarah Waries, chief executive of Shark Spotters.

False bay has the second largest number of white sharks in the world and the largest number of species. The balance between conservation and safety is therefore imperative. For the past 14 years Shark Spotters have been instrumental in finding that balance.

“Conserving large, predatory sharks, which are sometimes in conflict with people, is a major conservation challenge, because fear can stop people from supporting their conservation.

“To ensure the balance between great white shark conservation and public safety it is imperative that we have a strong scientific foundation on white shark ecology, coupled with non-lethal mitigation methods and supported by comprehensive education and awareness strategy,” says Waries.

For more information visit: www.backabuddy.co.za/spotters-binocular-fund

Weekly Press Review – 7 May 2018

Almost a year after the finalising of a forensic report alleging fraud by several high ranking fisheries officials, these same officials are still in their posts within the department.

According to the press, the report was conducted by forensic specialists The iFirm after a botched state abalone deal in 2016. Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana said at the time that legal action was being considered.  The minister himself, however, now faces a report into his own conduct compiled by the National Health Education and Allied Workers Union, alleging nepotism, mismanagement and sexual favours, and calling for his immediate removal; and the officials still remain at the department.

In response Minister Zokwana’s office has said that a team had been set up to address these concerns.

In more positive news a four-year-old environmentalist has made headlines this week after she managed to collect more than 14 cubic metres of recycled plastic over the last month.

Jenny Kenyon from Cape Town is on a campaign to shine a light on the dangers faced by penguins and turtles, as well as the environment, as a result of plastic bags.

Jenny’s crusade began after a visit to the Two Ocean Aquarium where she learnt that a turtle had eaten plastic from the ocean.

“She started out by telling her friends why straws and balloons were harming marine life,” says Jenny’s mother, Kath Kenyon.

Jenny started collecting plastic in March. “ I like collecting plastic so the penguins don’t get sick,” said Jenny.

Surely we can all learn a lesson from a four-year old who is not only capable of understanding the dangers of plastic pollution to our oceans, but is also willing and able to start to do something about it.

Weekly Press Review – 23 April 2018

An investigation has been launched into a collision between a car carrier vessel and an inactive tugboat. According to the press the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has revealed that the incident happened while the ship was berthing alongside the Durban Point Precinct.

No injuries were reported, but the quayside was damaged and the tug sustained a hole on its starboard side, which resulted in the vessel taking on water.

Port operations were not affected by the incident.

The transformation of the country’s maritime industry has received a boost.  According to the press, listed integrated logistics service supplier Grindrod is selling its bunker division, Unicorn Bunker Services, to a women empowerment group and black-owned and managed ship-broking firm.

Russell Burns, the chief executive of Unicorn Bunker Services, said the transaction supported the government’s agenda of transformation and Grindrod was proud to be part of this historic achievement and the process of skills transfer and improving the transformation profile of the South African maritime industry.

According to the press, police in Cape Town arrested two suspects in Ravensmead in more possession of more than 200 lobster tails over the weekend.

World Earth Day 2018 is focusing on the huge volumes of plastic in oceans around the world.  According to the press the United Nation’s Environmental Programme (Unep) estimates that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish.

“Plastic pollutants are turning up in everything from endangered wildlife municipal water supplies and, we, as users, of plastic must come up with solutions,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network.

UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign aims to address plastic pollution in a global effort, in co-operation with governments, businesses and others.