SIOC-cdt introduces one-entity strategy

Mynbou & Nywerheid / Mining & Industry

Marking its decade of esta-blishment, Sishen Iron Ore community development trust (SIOC-cdt) held a stakeholder engagement meeting on September 05, 2017 at the Kalahari Country Club in Kathu, ostensibly aimed at introducing its new operational stra-tegy.
The trust came up with a syn-chronised approach that seeks to optimise spontaneous service deli-very to the community while object-ively eyeing investment as a means of creating self-sustainability.
The meeting was attended by dif-ferent stakeholders that included the municipal mayors from Gamagara, Joe Morolong, Ga-Segonyana, the John Taolo Gaetsewe district and broader members of the community.
Presenting an abridged summary of financial events of the trust was the chief executive officer Vusani Malie, in the presence of his non-ex-ecutive board.
In the decade under review, the trust received its three percent is-sued shares from Sishen Iron Ore amounting to R2.3-billion. The trust gobbled up R1.1-billion, funding 269 approved projects.
On the investment segment, the trust spent R528-million over the pe-riod, while the net asset value of in-vestment is pegged at R687-million with reciprocal returns standing at R196-million.
As the saying goes, “Every rose has its thorn,” the downturn in the mining sector somehow choked the fluidity in the transfer of shares at some point by the traditional donor, Kumba.
The economic hiccup necessita-ted the board to ponder on how the super-trust - which had become a conduit for the five beneficiary trusts based on Kumba’s mining activities - could be kept afloat while still fulfill-ing its assigned mandate which is to develop and invest in the communi-ties on a broader spectrum.
Harder decisions had to be taken to keep the flagship of the trust buo-yant and sustainable. The first step was to reduce the personnel at the beneficiary trusts considerably - a decision that was met with great re-sistance as part of a cost saving measure aimed at sustaining benefi-ciary trusts, while observing the cha-racteristics of a depressed market in the mining sector, more so iron ore.
The trend in the sector remained hostile to reverse the decision. In 2016, the board, with limited discre-tion, had to take a more rigorous step by approving a new strategy by establishing a single entity to carry out the SIOC-cdt mandate.
The decision was multi-pronged with merits and demerits, but on all accounts, it had to project the trust's objectives and vision first.
Secondly the SIOC-cdt  relocated
from Johannesburg to Kathu and this translated into fast decision-making. 
The economic burden of replica-ting positions in the beneficiary trusts has been expunged, as two of the beneficiary trusts, Maphalane and Tsantsabane, had to be consoli-dated into SIOC-cdt, while Gamaga-ra Development Trust and John Ta-olo Development Trust opted to re-main independent entities.
The trust's stakeholders are more accessible to it, mainly the municipa-lities, departments and other role players in the community where en-gagements in planning are invalu-able. The trust is local and has a di-rect impact on the monitoring and evaluation of projects within its ope-rational demographics.
In the plenary session, community members had mixed feelings over the restructuring strategies. As questions inundated the board and the relevant managers, answers were reciprocally as good to accom-modate the transitional jitters.
Vividly, the scale of advantages re-mains more tilted to the interest of the community, because there is more transparency - no bureaucracy and no middle man. Instead there is now access to obtain direct answers regarding community projects and other areas of special attention.