iLembe Chamber celebrates the business community

The function room at The Capital Zimbali filled with glamorously dressed men and women for The iLembe Chamber Gala Dinner, presented by Nedbank, last week.

The evening’s theme was based on the African proverb “the beauty of a tree lies in its branches, but its strength lies in its roots”, celebrating local businesses as the roots of communities: the roots of growth, innovation, talent, diversity and pride.

Guest speaker, CEO of Metair Investments Limited, Riaz Haffejee, emphasized that the evening’s theme suits the resilient, agile and responsive nature of KZN-based companies to the many blows suffered in the past three years.

Riaz Haffejee (CEO of Metair Investments Limited), Siphamandla Ndhlovu (Nedbank KZN), Andy Horton (Chairman of iLembe Chamber) and Cobus Oelofse (CEO of iLembe Chamber). Photo: Karen Mackridge

“All of this resilience that we bring to bear in the face of a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) business environment, as defined by the US military in 1987, has proven to be a reality for us at KZN.

We are now certified resilient professionals who go about our daily lives demonstrating our resilience every chance we get,” Haffejee said.

Martin and Suzette Barnard with Brian Botes.

While resilience remains important, Haffejee challenged the business community to redefine VUCA as ‘vuka’, the Zulu word for ‘wake up’ to avoid becoming the classic frog in boiling water.

He said that South Africans tended to be consumed by external factors both local and global, allowing these to determine our spheres of influence and dissuading us from solving the problems before us.

Mark Telfer, Nicky van Leeuwen, and Shannon Vermaak.

“We need to stand up and not succumb to the norms that impose resilience on us. Change is inevitable and we must keep this as our constant, we must wake up”.

In the same vein, Haffejee urged the government to ‘wake up’ and facilitate the process of doing business in SA, while placing the renewal of ethical behavior at the forefront of all government commitments to promote good governance.

Musicians Rob Warren and Freddy L.

The iLembe region is home to Metair’s largest manufacturing facility in the country, Hesto Harnesses, which is also the group’s largest employer with 7,800 employees out of 11,600 people employed across all SA-based Metair subsidiaries.

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