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Land ‘Reform’ Ends Badly Without Intensive Training and Meticulous Planning

By DevanMoonsamy

Will it work or will we be worse off?

The financial exclusion is a global problem with over 1 billion having no access to formal financial systems. But what does ‘formal financial system exclusion’ mean exactly? If people are choosing to hide their money under the mattress rather than bank it, it is perhaps understandable. Many governments have used socialist arguments to seize control of banks. This never goes well, and people lose their savings and investments.The banks are then very poorly run, bank staff are laid off or don’t get paid,and the institution ends up closing, at least to public access.

This is likely the way forward for South Africa in the long term since the government has taken serious steps to end private ownership of land. Recent developments may seem like a benign concession intended to help the poor, but history has shown over the past 200 and more years that these government policies always leave the poor in a worse off position. Government officials’ greed knows no bounds in such situations. Access to citizens’ banking system is a massive risk, and it is inevitably next on the agenda once land expropriation has been perpetrated.

The people of Russia and other Slavic nations,and many African nations struggle to this day because of these exact types of policies. Recently, Venezuela has tried to warn South Africans not to proceed with land expropriation because it leads to economic hardships, but politicians are about to get access to our land, and there seems to be nothing we can do to stop them. If they can change our Constitution once in this way, we can expect that politicians with divisive agendas will continue to do so, and we are on a road to losing more of our hard-won rights.

International community has tried to warn us but politicians are deaf

In2009, Venezuela began what South Africa is doing now, land grabs, but Venezuela’s situation only got worse and in a very short time. One problem Venezuela had at the outset was that it imported food rather than producing enough. It was believed that by getting land into government hands, it could then be given to the poor who would then grow more food. This sounds good in theory, but in practice, it is disastrous for many reasons.

Venezuela soon began buying even more food into the country than before. This sounds a lot like what has happened in Zimbabwe. Those with knowledge of history and foresight are worried about what is about to happen in South Africa. Experts even now feel that Venezuela is too far gone and a ‘lost cause’. Its poor are starving, and its labour skills have been drained as thousands have immigrated.

Among  the reasons why Venezuela failed in this endeavour was poor planning and decision-making. Farming is a complex, labour-intensive, and often highly specialised affair. If you have ever lived on a farm you will know this. It’s not a matter of sending cows off to graze in a meadow and milk flows abundantly, or of throwing seeds on the ground and returning a few months later to reap piles of food. Profitable or sustainable farming requires day and night vigilance, careful planning, intensive monitoring, and quick action at times to save cattle and crops. It often requires enormous investment which will not see a return for years, sometimes even decades, or it develops into very unfortunate and painful losses despite best efforts put in.

But the idea people have is that land access is a quick fix. Land somehow equates to wealth. This is not true. So much depends on what land and how it is cared for. Some land is not being used because it is unsuitable for farming, and thus people incorrectly think it is going to waste. Some is protected for wildlife – which we need far more than we think (for example,where do bees come from to pollinate our crops?).

Being given land, even with buildings on it, can even become a major burden. South Africa needs to do much more than simply give away land. We must very carefully prepare, select, train, and equip the right people to farm. Otherwise it will be disastrous. Not everyone is suited to the demands of farming or similar endeavours. We have a large urban population (65%) who is not actually keen on making a living that way.

Farming can certainly bring prosperity, but for some,it feels like a curse. In the UK, for example,some people have inherited large estates which have been in the family for generations, but it becomes a massive burden. They cannot sustain it, so they abandon it. Likewise, in many cases where people have won lavish homes,they cannot pay the electricity, water and taxes on the house and it also becomes a greater burden than their previous situation. Why not just sell it then? It’s not so simple. There isn’t always a market for it, and some laws bind a family to a property. Moving to a farm also makes great demands on individual families, sometimes ending in divorce as well as child labour.

This is not to say that poor people shouldn’t be helped, including with landownership. But we must be smart about it and ensure it is not a sunken investment which leaves South Africans worse off. Start-up funding and skills are just as important, probably more so,than land ownership. It is more important that people be trained and that any endeavour be meticulously planned with the help of experts. Will this happen?

Corruption will strangle hopes of land ‘reform’

Corruption also happened in the case of Venezuela by favouring candidates for landownership who were politically aligned and had some sway over voters. This only perpetuates the exclusion of the poor and is likely to happen in South Africa too.

Venezuela was once the wealthiest nation on the South American continent. South Africa is also the wealthiest and most advanced nation in Africa. But this may not last.Land expropriation has greater negative consequences than we people want to believe. Venezuelans soon found themselves queuing for six hours a day to get food.

In the coming years, we could slip down to being one of the poorest nations in Africa, importing food at high prices, with unbearable inflation. The poor just surviving on handouts from richer nations, and a massive brain drain the like of which we have never seen before, leaving us bereft of enough people who can try to clean up the mess.This does, however, leave some politicians in a very powerful and comfy position. A poor, hungry nation depending on food rations and without skills is easily controlled. This is a long-term political strategy which has worked very well for governments in the past. This all may sound quite foreign to some. Not in South Africa, that won’t happen…

A colleague of mine out-sourced some work to a man from Kenya a while ago. When it came time to pay him, he sent an urgent email asking not to be paid yet. The bank he was with had just been seized by the government, supposedly for‘national interests’. He could not access his account and the branches were closed. His savings were out of reach including the money he put away for his children’s school fees. What could he do? The money was paid into a friend’s bank account and immediately withdrawn.A relatively small amount to try keep the family going until the next job came along.

Ifwe think we as South Africans are somehow above such things, we are far too overconfident or naïve. What is perhaps most sad about this situation is that no independent banks means that we cannot conduct international trade. Online businesses will not be able to operate in such an environment. EFT payments are impossible, let alone forex trade, and what will we revert to?Cash and cheques perhaps, or some say cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which are not particularly safe options. The Internet has been opening up many opportunities for the unemployed youth, and we are giving those away before they really have a chance to establish themselves.

Protect the Diversity Interests of Your Staff

Learn how to use positive peer pressure to protect diversity in your workplace

Devan Moonsamy

It seems that executives are dropping like flies due to diversity-related disasters. I am too often involved in reactive responses to diversity problems, especially those related to race. More often than not, the destruction caused by colleagues’ refusal to get along merely on the basis ofc olour is completely unnecessary.

The clean-up for HR and people managers is daunting. People dig their heels in and refuse to see reason. Sometimes people lose their jobs for the silliest of things. There is serious racism from all directions which destroys careers and sometimes unnecessarily. South Africans need to acknowledge that if they are too easily offended by people’s comments and behaviour, the problem actually lies with them.

Good diversity relations can be established in the most heterogeneous of groups through diversity training designed for the South African workplace. We must work towards solidly cemented relationships and reaching mutual understanding.

One way we can manage diversity well is by learning to effectively apply peer pressure in a positive way. This is something that can be taught in training sessions with high success. Preventing interpersonal problems by bringing people together in a neutral space to learn how to self-manage and manage others in diverse contexts is a winning formula.

Still, interventions are too often reactive, and it is too late to build good relationships and teach the healthy habits of placing positive peer pressure on those around us and ourselves. How do we do so? How does positive peer pressure work? It requires five key elements:

  • Be a good rolemodel in your speech and actions. Display maturity in your reactions and decision-making, even in difficult situations.
  • In-group admonition. Calling a person out immediately when something offensive has been said or done is sometimes preferable, especially when the victim – a genuine victim and not someone playing the role – needs to be championed. The offender must know what they said or did was wrong. Delaying the reprimand delays the consequences that must be felt by the offender. If the matter is not dealt with swiftly, it will escalate. However, this is no time for everyone to climb on the bandwagon and start attacking someone who made a slip up.
  • Peer-to-peer admonition. Apply positive peer pressure by taking othersaside afterwards. Analyse the situation with them and work towards constructivegoals to make amends for the wrong and prevent reoccurrences. This is done withthe victim and with the offender separately, and together, as appropriate.  
  • Focus on new constructive goals. Encourage peopleto see beyond their own hang-ups, neuroses, complexes and over-sensitiveness. Setnew goals for interpersonal relationships, and to build respect andunderstanding among colleagues.
  • Protect the disciplinary process from abuse. Ensure legitimate cases are takenseriously and individuals are not victimised through the processes.

We really need to be more careful in the use of the disciplinary process in race relations. People of colour need to be taken seriously when they have true grievances. By harping on small issues and making mountains out of molehills, those with real grievances are undermined. Less time is available to devote to those genuine grievances and to other critical programmes such a steam building.

Eventually, no one takes the person who repeatedly cries ‘Racist!’ seriously. Even when they have a genuine grievance, they won’t be taken seriously and supported. People of colour are poorly treated at times by racists. However, it is in your best interests to play your ‘race card’ carefully. You may only get one chance and, if it’s not legitimate, your reputation will be ruined.

Don’t wait for diversity issues to destroy interpersonal relationships and careers at your organisation. Train your staff on how to manage diversity,steer clear of race-related offences and towards optimum productivity and healthy workplace relationships.  

Book a seminar with diversity specialist Devan Moonsamy from the ICHAF Training Institute.

Devan has also recently published a book on the topic of diversity in the South African context entitled Racism,Classism, Sexism, And The Other ISMs That Divide Us (ISBN: 978-0-620-80807-1). Order copies for your managerial staff directly from ICHAF. It is specially designed for the needs of contemporary South African workplaces. It offers valuable insight into diversity-related challenges.

The book looks at overcoming instant separation magnets (ISMs), and how to manage diversity so that everybody wins. The aspects of diversity are considered in detail with real examples and practical information on dealing with and preventing diversity-related problems.

Tel: 011 262 2461



‘Don’t Let The Panic Get You’: What is Maths Anxiety?

Devan Moonsamy

Are you afraid of maths? Does it make you uncomfortable or easily confused? This is extremely common. Maths panic or maths anxiety may be the result of beliefs that maths is difficult and can only be mastered by ‘clever’ people.

It is this belief which people pick up from an early age that can lead
to life-long anxiety whenever we try to multiply or divide numbers. What is 72
divided by 9? We ought to have learnt our times
tables in school… But many of us simply freeze
when we are faced with such calculations,
and we end up reaching for our phones to
work it out.

What seems to underlie this problem is not that we ‘can’t do maths’, but
that we fear it. It is a fear that goes back so far into our childhood – think
of the stress you felt due to class tests
at a young age, and then exams as a teenager. We thus first need to confront
that fear and anxiety before we can hope to gain a better mastery of arithmetic.

In training sessions with adults, one of my
trainers at ICHAF tells learners, ‘Don’t let the maths panic get you.’ What does she mean? When faced with maths-related questions, we panic
before we get a chance to learn the steps to solve them. ‘Everything we
do in maths has a logical basis. You just need to learn the steps to follow to reach
the answer,’ she says.

If we can try to hold our anxiety at bay or suspend it for as long as
possible, and then begin the steps required, arithmetic becomes much less
stressful, and we can begin to master it.
It is now widely recognised that EQ – emotional intelligence – is more
important than IQ. This makes sense in terms of maths. We first need the emotional
discipline, not to understand maths initially, but to gain control over our own
emotions: our fear and anxiety about maths. Once we do that, we can develop the
clarity of mind required to focus on and work with numbers.

Without the unnecessary baggage of anxiety, maths becomes so much
easier. In fact, maths is a lot of fun, and
it’s very rewarding. Many great careers and hobbies require a good
foundation in maths.

What’s so important also is to help others, especially children, to
combat the fear and anxiety that comes with maths. We must be careful as adults
not to mislead children into thinking that maths is ‘too difficult’. We must
avoid creating such anxiety in others as it is extremely detrimental to their
personal growth. Remind yourself and
others: ‘Don’t panic, just follow the steps.’

What if someone’s difficulty with maths is more serious than a
short-term panic, however? Have you heard
of dyscalculia? It is a type of learning
disability that entails serious difficulty working with numbers and
arithmetic. People with dyscalculia may struggle with number-related concepts and
relationships. Using the various formulae, symbols and functions in mathematics
proves to be a serious challenge for them.

A person with dyscalculia may swap numbers around or struggle to
translate numbers in digits into words, and vice versa. Even quantities,
measurements and relative size can be challenging. For example, they may not
understand how 100cm can be equal to 1m and to

Something common among those with maths anxiety and dyscalculia is the
difficulty in holding numbers in working memory and then following steps to
solve a problem. Many of us easily get confused and give up.

When someone manages to work something out in their head, we may be truly amazed and think they have some exceptional, almost magical
ability. What they have managed to do is focus
on the numbers and block out other concerns long enough to figure out
the problem. There’s also nothing wrong with using pen and paper to work
problems out.

important, nevertheless, to understand that it is not that people with maths anxiety or dyscalculia can’t do arithmetic. They need time, patience
and practice. Trying to do maths under pressure is what makes it impossible. In
the end, it’s up to us not to hold
ourselves and others back in maths
development. Despite disabilities such as
dyscalculia, or with the more common maths-related anxiety, arithmetic skills
can still be learnt.

Devan Moonsamy, is the CEO of
ICHAF Training Institute, a Seta-approved training and development company.
ICHAF offers NQF levels training in business, computer skills training, and
soft skills development, among other programmes.

Devan specialises in conflict
management and diversity management, and he regularly conducts seminars for
corporates on these issues. He recently authored a book on handling diversity
in the South African workplace, including managing disabilities on the job.

His book Racism, Classism, Sexism, And The Other ISMs
That Divide Us is available from the
ICHAF Training Institute.

Tel: 011 262 2461 | Email: | Website:

Is Diversity Receiving Enough Attention in Corporate Training?

Devan Moonsamy

I’m proud to be the owner and CEO of the I Can Help Africa Foundation (ICHAF). We’ve been in the training business for over a decade, and I can look back on many challenges surmounted and successes achieved over the years. I always try to stay in touch with what our students and clients are saying and relate it to what I am doing.

I pause to consider: Are ICHAF programmes making a difference and how big is that difference? Is it workplace-related or does it also lead to personal growth and the forging of good relationships in the context of diversity? Diversity is of critical concern to South African organisations. I wonder if even our entry-level qualifications make a difference in terms of diversity. Do ICHAF students feel their learning experiences are not only relevant to their jobs, but also offer some guidance on getting along with people who are different?

Recently having co-authored a book about diversity and conducting diversity seminars as well as serving as a mediator in diversity-related conflict situations, diversity is constantly on my mind. I also recently had the opportunity to speak about immigration issues in the workplace – another important diversity variable in South Africa – on the etv Morning Show.

So what have ICHAF students to say about the effect of our learning programmes on them? I was particularly interested in our entry-level programme, the NQF1 Business Practices course, which is a great way to get staff training started for just about any staff member. It is a year-long course, and there is a lot of focus therein on business skills like finance, computer use, customer care, etc. It is all very well having these skills, but if people can’t get along, we will never truly realise our goals, feel true fulfilment in our work, and make a difference in other people’s lives.

I had to know what our students are saying and two of the responses received were:

I know the do’s and do not’s when it comes to customers. The accounting and information about personal finances is helpful. I also find that I’m communicating better and more often with people at work and customers. I have more confidence in that. I’m playing around with ideas for new businesses since learning about business planning. Actually, it’s not exactly a business idea. I’ve long wanted to start a non-profit organisation to help people in my community. It seems like an ever-more possible thing I can do… I want to get older people together with unemployed people, especially youths, to share their skills and help them learn and thus get jobs – Leonard, Cape Town.

Working with different people allowed me to approach different situations in a different manner. It allowed me to help others, but at the same time, I learnt from others. I enjoyed being in a diverse learning environment because it showed me how to receive and give knowledge to help others and myself – Kasevan, Johannesburg.

It’s fascinating how our own learning often prompts us to teach others. It deepens our desire to share what we know, and it helps us see that the learner can become the teacher. Through this entry-level programme, we are seeing budding social entrepreneurs interested in NPO and charity work. Our learners are looking for ways to apply their skills for the benefit of their community. There is always the concern over high unemployment, and programmes such as those run by ICHAF can address that and have a compounding effect whereby learners become leaders who create jobs.

It was beneficial indeed. I got to understand how a business operates including all the dynamics thereof. Working with people in general is never easy. People are different in many ways, character, beliefs, opinion, etc. As for conflict, one has to listen and find a possible solution to resolve the situation at hand. It is important to show tolerance, respect, kindness and treat people with humanity. I have the pleasure to be in the presence of different cultures and my character defines who I am! – Adlie, Western Cape.

I know now it’s important to treat people with HIV/AIDS and different sexualities in a fair way, to treat them with equality. I know I need to be professional at work no matter a person’s background or characteristics. I also realise the importance of knowing one’s HIV status, and that ARVs have come a long way, and now HIV is not a death sentence. I also understand what it is about people who are gay. Although I don’t agree with it personally, I would not let anyone hurt someone simply for that. It is against our Constitution and many policies – Cynthia, Cape Town.

These two learners hit on some very important diversity topics: cultural differences and conflict resolution, HIV/AIDS, sexuality and the law. It is really encouraging to see how ICHAF’s entry-level programme has got learners thinking about these big issues and even reconsidering their own beliefs, finding better ways to get along, and displaying an awareness of policies and legislation that affect their lives.

Many South Africans have a poor understanding of the policies and laws we have for a variety of issues, but our training is helping to change that. It will be important for us to see in future what other policies and legislation we can teach our students about to make their lives and their performance at work better.

Making life easier in the workplace and in society for the LGBTQI community, and for those affected by HIV/AIDS are also a reality through this type of training. The desire to get along and cooperate is there – we just need to start the conversation and teach the skills. Trainers must speak about what people don’t usually discuss about in the workplace. It often takes an outsider, like a trainer or motivational speaker, to break open these tough subjects and get us to confront them. Being able to talk about something makes it more manageable, and we can even be more objective about it.

This small amount of evidence I collected from only four learners from one of our programmes tells me a lot about the learning spaces ICHAF is creating. Our learning spaces give students many opportunities to tackle big diversity issues. Skills building is always a core part of the programmes, but I’m so pleased that our learners are taking away so much more: hope for a better, increasingly diverse South Africa.

Devan Moonsamy is author of Racism, Classism, Sexism, And The Other ISMs That Divide Us with Bronwyn J King, available from the ICHAF Training Institute.

The book tackles contemporary issues in the South African workplace, including a variety of diversity-related challenges and how these can be overcome. It is an excellent guide for managers to harnessing diversity for success.

Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan, please use the contact details below.

Tel: 011 262 2461 | Email: | Website:

Can We End Racism? What it Means to Conscientise

By DevanMoonsamy –

Conscientise is a somewhat new (1960s) and tricky-to-pronounce term, but the concept is a wonderful ally in the diversity process. Some pronounce the word as con-chi-en-chise; others say con-chen-tize. The latter seems to be the most common in South Africa and is the simplest. Never mind how you say it,though, so long as you get busy with it. A basic definition is that it is to make yourself and others aware of important social and political issues.

Conscientising is ensuring everyone knows their rights and responsibilities, but it also includes those nuances and subtle understandings that are more difficult to put into a list of dos and don’ts. To illustrate what it means to be conscientised in the workplace, think of someone coming in late to work. How a manager approaches the problem should differ based on their (conscientised) understanding of the employee and their circumstances. For those who have no choice but to use public transport to get to work, particularly unreliable forms of transport, and especially on a day when there has been a strike, the response should be one of understanding and sympathy for the stress they are likely feeling. What about employees with very young children? How do they warrant special consideration at times?

A conscientisied person is aware of these types of factors and their gravity, and will generally be better equipped to handle diversity and a variety of problems. In the workplace, conscientising is part of education, training and development. It is specifically identified as a precursor to the action of challenging inequalities in treatment and opportunities. People must know the power they have to do good and correct wrongs before they can achieve the ideals of equality and a non-racist society.

Combating racism is thus about conscientising ourselves and others. Notions of race-based inferiority are combated by means of attitude adjustments, something we as individuals are responsible for. It can certainly go a long way if we strive to educate those around us in a respectful manner or sometimes speaking in more firm terms if we are faced with deep-rooted racism which is causing harm to others.

By cleansing and greatly improving our attitudes about race we will have a healthier mindset, more authentic relationships, and thus greater chances of success in our relationships in and outside the workplace.

South Africa has a very painful past, and our wounds are not going to heal quickly. Many bridges between our diverse people need to be built and maintained. We can heal as individuals and as diverse groups of people working towards common goals. Conscientising is one very powerful way to do so.

The above is adapted from Racism, Classism, Sexism, And The Other ISMs That Divide Us by Devan Moonsamy, available from the ICHAF Training Institute and all leading books stores.

The book tackles contemporary issues in the South African workplace. It is an excellent guide for managers to harnessing diversity for success and overcoming diversity-related challenges.

Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan, please use the contact details below.