Presenter Donna Merrifield (second right) with some of the attendees

The adage that staff represents a company’s most valuable resource was reinforced at the most recent Small Business Network forum hosted at the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business. Presenter Donna Merrifield of Diverse Human Resources revisited some of the basic tenets to help owners and supervisors manage staff by empowering them with knowledge, tips and processes to help smooth out the frustrations sometimes experienced in managing employment relationships.


This is a reminder of the impending October 1 deadline to enter the prestigious Nedbank PCB Business Awards to be presented at the glittering annual banquet at the Royal Showgrounds on Friday, November 9. Eight awards are on offer - Nedbank PCB Business of the Year (Manufacturing Sector); Nedbank PCB Business of the Year: Services Sector (Retail/Professional); Nedbank PCB Business of the Year (State Owned Enterprises); Nedbank PCB Medium Enterprise of the Year; Nedbank PCB Small Business of the Year; Nedbank PCB Champion Entrepreneur of the Year; Nedbank PCB Franchisee of the Year, and Nedbank PCB Social Enterprise of the Year. Nominations must be submitted via email to after which a form will be emailed to the nominated company to provide information for the adjudication phase. All information provided will be treated with strictest confidence.

  Today in History  

1917: The Battle of Polygon Wood begins, pitting British and Australian troops against the German army near Ypres in Belgium. The Allies won.

Still in Europe, today is celebrated as European Day of Languages.

  News worth knowing  


Households were under strain in Q2 2018, a report from the SA Reserve Bank shows. The quarterly bulletin released yesterda indicated that household consumption fell to levels last seen two years ago in Q2 2016. Compared to Q1 2018, when household consumption expenditure was 1% higher than in the previous quarter, it contracted 1.3% in Q2 2018 as spending on goods declined while spending on services increased at a slow pace. Notably, spending on durable goods such as vehicles or household items contracted 11.2% in Q2 2018. This reflected preemptive purchases ahead of the VAT increase, which took hold on April 1, as well as the subdued economic environment, the bank said. However, in spite of the contraction in the second quarter, households are still in a better position than they were in 2017. In the first half of 2018, household spending was 2.3% higher than in the same period in 2017. (BDLive)



Portfolio investments into the South African economy fell sharply in Q2 2018, as investor risk aversion towards emerging markets was rising, central bank data showed yesterday. Inward investment into South African bonds and equities shrank to ZAR16.6 billion from ZAR89.4 billion in the first three months of the year, the Reserve Bank said. Appetite for bonds was hardest-hit, with non-resident investors cutting their purchases to a net ZAR3.8 billion in Q2 2018 from ZAR46.9 billion in Q1 2018. Purchases of equities fell to ZAR12.8 billion from ZAR42.5 billion. Reserve Bank data also showed that South Africa‘s total external debt increased to ZAR2.165 trillion at the end of Q1 2018, from ZAR2.130 trillion at the end of last year, mainly due to an increase in Rand-denominated external debt. (Bloomberg)



Bain & Co partner Vittorio Massone provided suspended SA Revenue Services (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane with a new structure for the agency before either men even set foot at SARS. Evidence at the commission of inquiry chaired by retired judge Robert Nugent yesterday appeared to suggest that far from being misled and have its work used for a sinister agenda, Bain, one of the world’s top three consultants, helped craft plans that weakened the agency so much that South Africans eventually paid the price through higher taxes as the government struggled to plug resultant revenue shortfalls, which were also due to a weakening economy. (BDLive)



KPMG is continuing to lose staff and clients in SA more than a year after issuing a public apology for some of the work it did in the country. It is understood a team responsible for US cross-border transactions in Africa quit because of limited workflow, a consequence of the fallout from corruption allegations that engulfed former president Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family last year. In addition, Dimension Data Holdings has become the latest firm to desert KPMG, passing an ZAR80 million auditing contract to rival EY. KPMG confirmed that Dimension Data changed auditors in June. Dimension Data didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. (BDLive)



Cash-strapped arms manufacturer Denel has not received the additional ZAR1bn guarantee it has requested from the government, a move that could have serious implications for its cash flow. Denel, which has government-guaranteed debt of ZAR2.7 billion, had asked for a further guarantee and a cash injection to recapitalise the business. It did not disclose the size of the requested cash assistance. The state-owned arms manufacturer, which along with other state-owned enterprises has been weighed down by allegations of mismanagement and corruption, slipped into such a severe financial crisis that in December it needed a government guarantee to be able to pay its workers and suppliers. (BDLive)



Standard Bank Online Share Trading scooped the accolade as the top stockbroker in the country for the third year running at an awards ceremony at the JSE last night. The survey is conducted by Intellidex for Investors Monthly. It has three components: a major client survey in which 6 380 respondents participated in 2018; a mystery shopping exercise; and a survey of stockbroking firms. Rand Swiss, formed in 2015, took second place overall. Afrifocus Securities is the top advice broker of the year, followed by Sasfin Securities and FNB Securities. EasyEquities is the top online broker of the year, followed by IG South Africa and DWT Securities. (BDLive)



The board of Alexander Forbes has fired its CEO, Andrew Darfoor, with immediate effect. This caused a quick fall in the share price, before it recovered to above its opening price of ZAR4.85. Darfoor replaced Prof Edward Kieswetter on September 1, 2016. Contacted for comment, all Darfoor would say was, “I can confirm that my relationship with Alexander Forbes has ended. I am not happy about the outcome and will deal with it in due course”. (Moneyweb)



Only four million or 35% of the 12 million registered cars in SA are insured, according to the Car Maintenance Index 2018 by market research group New World Wealth. It also reported that five companies dominate the vehicle insurance sphere - Discovery; Hollard; Auto & General; Outsurance; and King Price. Over 20 local car insurers were included in the study, including the main players. Criteria included the affordability of premiums; the level of customer service; the speed of pay-out; the ease of the pay-out process; and roadside assistance and towing. Car insurance premiums normally range from ZAR400 to ZAR600 per month for a car worth ZAR200 000. (Fin24)



After coming out all guns blazing, Nigeria’s central bank surrendered some ground in its tussle with MTN Group, pledging that a dispute over the repatriation of US$8.1 billion (about ZAR116 billion) in dividends from the country will soon be resolved. Examiners from the central bank are reviewing documents provided by Johannesburg-based MTN and four banks accused of moving money out of the continent’s biggest oil producer without the regulator’s final authorisation, Governor Godwin Emefiele told reporters on Tuesday in the capital, Abuja. He also clarified that the regulator had initially wanted MTN to reverse the flows and that there was no liability on behalf of the lenders. (Bloomberg)



Standard Chartered said it will stop financing new coal-fired power plants anywhere in the world as part of its commitment to support the Paris agreement on climate change. The move follows "detailed consultation with a range of stakeholders", according to a statement yesterday from the London-based bank. Environmental degradation, extreme weather and rising seas are among the climate change legacies left by burning coal, it said. Standard Chartered said its existing commitments are excluded from its new policy on coal energy. It has 14 project financing facilities in seven markets, which fund coal-power stations. A spokesperson for the bank declined to say how much money it held in coal projects. HSBC Holdings, Societe Generale and Deutsche Bank are among banks that have made similar pledges. Japanese lenders, among the biggest funders of coal projects, have also begun to shift towards more climate-friendly policies.  (BDLive)



Heads of state gathered on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York had more on their mind than North Korea’s nuclear program and impending US sanctions on Iran: the impact of a global trade war. Leaders from Latin America, Africa and Asia expressed concerns about rising tensions between the world’s two largest economies after Washington and Beijing levied billions of Dollars in additional tariffs on each other and signalled little inclination for productive talks until after the US midterm elections. Trade concerns are seldom raised at the annual UN General Assembly, which attracts nearly 200 world leaders more focused on domestic political issues and major global crises such as the war in Syria and the refugee crisis in Europe. But trade appears to be breaking through. (Bloomberg)


2 Trainsmart  Workshops 2018
The  Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business

Bookings: Maureen - 031 5634302, 082 820 2412,


Year-end Special Rates!
R620 pp / R580 pp for 3 or more / R550 pp for 5 or more.

Exceptional Customer Service ... And More
Monday 22 October, 8.30 - 1 pm

Energize staff and improve customer service. Create a more worker friendly environment. Provide quality service, develop the right attitude and ensure repeat customers! 

  • Service Excellence… "You don't get a second chance to make a good first impression”.  Develop people skills!
  • Communicating for Service Excellence in the Workplace.
  • Attitude and Behaviour in the Workplace.
  • Encourage staff who are not working to full potential.
  • Adapting to change - handling difficult customers.
  • Go that extra mile!
  • “How to connect with the Customer” and build great teams!
Essential Sales Skills

Tuesday 6 November, 8.30 - 1 pm


Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.

Henry David Thoreau

  financial indicators  
Dollar R14.29 + 0.28%
Pound R18.82 + 0.36%
Euro R16.82 + 0.24%
Yen 0.126620  
Repo 6.50  
Platinum $ 823.00 + 0.43%
Gold $ 1200.84 + 0.00%
Oil $ 80.83 + 0.91%
All Share 56789.63 - 0.16%
Prime 10.00  

These rates are correct at time of going to press.