FSA celebrates another successful year of business

May 31, 2024
Changing of the guard (L-R) Mike Peter (Executive Director FSA), outgoing FSA Chairperson Andrew Mason and incoming FSA Chairperson Buhle Msweli. Photo: Samora Chapman

FSA’s 22nd Annual General Meeting was held once again at the Fern Hill conference Centre in Tweedie in May, and was attended by a record number of members, forestry sector stakeholders and key office bearers from several government departments.

Andrew Mason handed over the FSA chairmanship to Buhle Msweli of the Small Growers Group as per FSA’s rotation policy, which has served the organisation well over the years. Duane Roothman of Sappi will serve as Vice-Chair for the year ahead.

In his opening address, FSA Executive Director Mike Peter, shared the good news that the Forest Sector has improved its BBBEE rating and achieved Level 3 for the first time, and that gender transformation efforts are bearing fruit in that women entering forestry programmes at tertiary education institutions in 2024 outnumbered men – also for the first time.

He also lauded the fact that the forest Sector’s engagement with stakeholders through the Public Private Growth Initiative (PPGI) is bearing fruit as the barriers impeding the progress of the Sector have been removed. However he cautioned that the hard work is not done as the sector needs to build on the opportunities thus created.

There were two excellent keynote presentations that kept attendees interested and provided fascinating perspectives on the road ahead for South Africa in general and the forest sector in particular. The meeting was held just a few days before South Africa’s general elections on May 29, and there was plenty of speculation as to what lies ahead for the economy and the country as the election results will have a massive bearing on the trajectory of our future.

Dr John Endres, Chief Executive Director of the Institute for Race Relations, presented the keynote address. Photo: Samora Chapman

The keynote presentation by Dr John Endres, Chief Executive Director of the Institute for Race Relations, appropriately titled ‘On the Edge’, provided a snapshot of the decline that has occurred across all South Africa’s economic indicators since 2008. This has resulted in low economic growth, fewer jobs, declining investment and the average South African is poorer as a result.

He said that the level of investment in the South African economy is way below what is required to turn the economy around because investors do not trust the direction that government policy is taking. Moreover the fact that almost half the people in South Africa are now receiving Social Grants coupled with an extremely narrow tax base, means that the South African economy is vulnerable and confidence is at an all-time low.

Katy Johnson (FSA), Khosi Mavimbela (Executive Director Forest Sector Charter Council) and Julia Rees (Dargle Poles). Photo: Samora Chapman

However our democratic processes still work and the looming General Election provides a glimmer of opportunity for political change. We may be entering a period of coalition politics which will be marked by volatility and an increasingly ineffective government, he said. The positive side of this coin is that it gives more space to the private sector to step in with solutions.

“The most successful political parties of the future will be the ones that manage coalitions the best,” he concluded.

Steven Ngubane of the Industrial Development Corporation provided info on the state development finance institution’s commitment to provide development finance for SMMEs engaged in the Agriculture and Agribusiness value chain, which includes forestry. He said the IDC plans to invest R1.4 billion in this sector over the next four years through their blended finance model. This model can be tailored to suite forestry which is a primary, low value and long term business.

Incoming FSA chairperson Buhle Msweli (right) thanks the IDC’s Steven Ngubane for his presentation. Photo: Samora Chapman

This model employs a 60:40 equity to credit ratio. This translates to an effective interest rate of 9% on finance packages up to R100 million, or 12% on packages up to R200 million.

Steven said that recipients of IDC finance packages are also required to invest their own funds in the enterprise, to ensure that they are fully committed to making it work.

After the business of adoption of the minutes from the 2023 AGM and the audited financial statements for the year ended 2023, attendees and guests were able to socialise and network at a vibrant cocktail after-party.

L-R: Vusi Dladla of NCT, Norman Dlamini (FSA), Tebogo Mathiane (Department Forestry, Fisheries & Environment), Freddie Humphreys (Land Bank) and Steven Ngubane (IDC). Photo: Samora Chapman

FSA Executive Committee 2024/25
Ex Large Growers Group
Duane Roothman (SAPPI) (FSA Vice-Chairperson)
Themba Vilane (Mondi)
Sean Brown (Merensky)
Itumeleng Langeni (MTO)
Sibalo Dlamini (SAFCOL)
Ferdie Brauckmann (TWK)
Penwell Lunga (PG Bison)
Gerald Stoltz (York Timbers)
Mark Armour (co-opted)

Ex Medium Growers Group
Andrew Mason - KZN MGG Chair
Murray Mason - KZN / S Cape
Heiner Hinze - Mpumalanga / Limpopo
Graeme Freese - Past MGG Chairperson
Danny Knoesen - Ordinary Member

Ex Small Growers Group
Buhle Msweli - KZN Provincial Chairperson (FSA Chairperson)
Musa Mcwensa - KZN Deputy Chairperson
Fhatuwani Netsianda - Limpopo Provincial Chairperson

Small-scale growers attended the FSA AGM in numbers. Photo: Samora Chapman
Dave Everard (forestry consultant and former Sappi Forests Environmental Manager), Hlengiwe Ndlovu (Sappi Forests Environmental Manager) and John Scotcher (environmental consultant for FSA). Photo: Samora Chapman
Linda Vilakazi (Mondi) and Sandile Nkosi (Sappi Khulisa). Photo: Chris Chapman
FSA’s Stefan Links and Ronald Heath. Photo: Samora Chapman
L-R: Katy Johnson (FSA), Roger Poole (NCT) and Jacqui Meyer (Timber Pesticide Working Group). Photo: Samora Chapman

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