SAA, despite all the recent executive upheaval, is playing in the big leagues. The airline is among the platinum sponsors for the Barclays ATP Tour World Finals that concluded in London last night.

It is a matter of conjecture how much SAA will have forked out to be in the group of major sponsors for this popular tennis event. The Barclays ATP World Finals is the biggest indoor tennis tournament in the world, and as such they possibly present the best platform for anybody looking to connect with a broad swathe of potential customers from around the world.

SAA has been badly bruised lately, and those tasked with marketing the airline to a global audience certainly believe the ATP World Finals are some sort of a marketing coup. But to be sure, they have their work cut out because even with financial backing from the government, the airline continues to alienate customers as it struggles to raise its service levels and compete head to head with the likes of Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic – considered to be at the forefront of exceptional service.

Perhaps the recent R5 billion guarantee from the government has given SAA a burst of confidence to try and undo some of the perceptions out there.

So, if you are a tennis fan, you would have seen that the SAA logo featured prominently at the court inside London’s O2 Arena, alongside other major brands including Rolex, FedEx, Lacoste, Ricoh, Corona and Moët & Chandon, as Serbian Novak Djokovic, the world’s number one tennis player, battled Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro to claim a spot in last night’s final against Roger Federer.

This marketing foray is a bold move by SAA. Let’s just hope it brings the airline the returns or the aces it needs to truly play in the big leagues.


So, how many applications for the position of non-executive director do you imagine Telkom received?

The deadline for applications from interested candidates was yesterday. That’s according to the notice placed on the Institute of Directors Southern Africa’s (Iodsa) website last week.

There are a number of significant aspects to the notice. One is that Telkom is now referring to itself as Telkom SA SOC LTD; SOC stands for state-owned company and all SOCs are required in terms of the Companies Act to put SOC in their name.

For the 60 percent plus “minority” shareholders, the SOC part of the name might be difficult for them to come to terms with as it puts them in a sort of corporate limbo. There’s certainly no doubt Telkom is a state-controlled company, but can it be state-owned if it has 60 percent non-state shareholders?

Another curious aspect of the notice is how quickly interested candidates had to respond. Telkom is of course under pressure to add to its considerably slimmed down list of directors. Also curious, although encouraging, are the requirements of the ideal candidates, which include “sound judgment and decisiveness” as well as being “objective and have the ability to think independently”. These are just part of a daunting list of requirements.

While it has become far too easy to criticise Telkom, it is important not to overlook the fact that in terms of its traditional core landline business, it has improved significantly in the past 10 or so years. Gone are the days when faults could result in no phone communication for days while you waited forlornly for an engineer to fix the problem.

And getting a landline is now a far speedier and efficient process. Even the billing process is more efficient.

So, full marks to Telkom for getting its old-fashioned core business right. But what a shame about all the other stuff.


It does seem that journalism the world over is in danger of losing its “licence” to operate. This is not a licence that is granted to it by any government, but a licence that the public implicitly awards it and that allows journalists to ask questions and expect answers.

The response of traditional media to the onslaught of internet and mobile competition has generally been desperate and poorly considered.

In that process, traditional media appears to have abandoned the one very obvious advantage it had – quality control over its content.

No doubt the dangerous slide towards irrelevance has been aggravated by the cost-cutting that almost no traditional media entity has managed to avoid. This cost-cutting has meant that instead of trying to improve our product we are weakening it by cutting back on the investment in journalists and their training.

And so, even as we demand greater status and recognition than the blogs and tweets that clutter the media space, we are increasingly delivering a product that deserves no such recognition or status.

The latest victim of what almost seems like self-immolation is the BBC.

Anyone watching the BBC in the UK last week would have been forgiven for thinking that huge swathes of the Conservative Party were involved in child abuse a few decades ago. There were no individual names mentioned, but BBC TV kept referring to shocking news uncovered by its Newsnight programme on child abuse in a children’s home in Wales, and made frequent mention of unnamed members of the Conservative Party.

Flighting of the programme should be seen in the context of the scandal surrounding Jimmy Saville and the BBC’s earlier failure to carry a Newsnight programme that put the spotlight on Saville’s alleged ongoing abuse.

Meanwhile, we are soon to get sight of the report of the Levenson enquiry into the appalling practices of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

If this industry doesn’t up its game it deserves to be in decline.

Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Ellis Mnyandu and Ann Crotty.