Zim-SA Forum: Breaking new ground for like-minded Zimbabweans

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Anele Ndlovu, Julius Shamu, Shingi Mutanga and Edmore Chinhamo 

By Shingi Mutanga
Without doubt one of the highlights of the year 2016 was the landmark incorporation of the Zimbabwe-South Africa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Zimsacci) into Zimbabwe-South Africa (Zim-SA Forum).
The genesis of the two organisations has been in the Western Cape and Gauteng ie Zimsacci and Zim-SA Forum respectively. Essentially the amalgamation of the two organisations has been a ground breaking agreement of like-minded Zimbabweans in both reagions who are committed to harnessing the collective power of Zimbabweans and other Africans who want to bring changes to investing, and investments in Zimbabwe primarily, the region at large, and the Zimbabwean diaspora.
These two apolitical organisations share a similar vision. The leadership deliberated at length on the strategic and common basis for merger which identified a plethora of benefits that could be accrued through this collective approach.
The incorporation of Zimsacci into Zim-SA Forum follows yet another milestone that has witnessed the alliance of Zim-SA Forum with the Black Business Council of South Africa –  to form a cohesive voice of business in South Africa with the purpose of facilitating the participation of black South Africans in the mainstream economy.
Indeed the Zim-SA Forum has proved to be growing from strength to strength with tangible activities that have drawn the attention of many in the diaspora, and the government back home.
Essentially steps of integration can vary from organisation to organisation based on the nature of the business and the complexity of the merger.
The goal of any merger is business performance improvement. Performance is all about people – collectively and individually. Here is a reflection on some of the identified steps for enhancing successful incorporation steps, and how we arrived at the strategic amalgamation between Zimsacci and Zim-SA Forum.

Step 1: A clear and realistic shared vision: In the pre-merger diligence and evaluation phase it was clear from the onset that an amalgamation of the Zim-SA Forum and Zimsacci was desirable, and a merger of the various efforts of Zimbabweans in the diaspora made sense.
The Zim-SA Forum seeks to become a hub of patriotic excellence that embraces everybody, with the aim of taking Zimbabwe to an emerging economy trajectory. Zimsacci seeks to be a leading development; training; advocacy; networking and socially responsible forum for Zimbabwean businesses, like minded Africans and the diaspora in general.
The leadership of the two organisations realised the strength in unifying the Zimbabwe diasporas to advance a common cause through an investment drive to attain economic recovery.
In essence this amalgamation has been precipitated by the principle of collective power of Zimbabweans who want to bring economic transformation.
The incorporation is an epitome of growth from strength to strength as the diasporas are uniting across the geographic divide with nodes spread across the country (South Africa) and beyond.
Zimsacci thus become the first node, through a Cape Town regional chapter, following the successful dissolving of Zimsacci to form part of the Zim-SA Forum.

Step 2: Understand the differences: Even though most mergers are done because both organisations “fit” each other, the integration will only be successful if you take time to understand the differences.
The differences commonly are in the corporate culture and value systems, levels of staff qualifications and competencies, leadership styles, operational processes and systems and tools.
Certainly Zimsacci and the Zim-SA Forum are in a transition phase trying to identify and evaluate the uniqueness in each other and preserve the successful business models as they create a platform of commonality that allows the organisations to leverage each other in a way that boosts performance.
Much as the cementing of the amalgamation and merger have gained momentum in the last quarter of 2016, 2017 will certainly prove to be an era of solidifying our strategic goals, and taking the taking the Zim-SA Forum to new heights.

Step 3: Know the people: It is important to identify the key stakeholders/leaders/influencers within the new entity quickly and also listen and address their fears and concerns.
Announce an integration core team drawn from multiple functions of both entities that would be responsible for creating, monitoring and tracking the integration plan with tasks and timelines till all post-merger actions are completed.
While Zimsacci has been incorporated into Zim-SA Forum, the leadership led by Mr Julius Shamu continues to operate in the Western Cape, under the Zim-SA Forum banner, manning the Western Cape as a regional chapter of the forum.
The two organisations are in a transition phase with plans underway to have joint strategic workshop aimed at understanding each other better, and fine-tune the strategic plans for 2017.

Step 4: Define and implement the processes and tools: This is related to step 2. Sufficient attention should be given to identify the best practices in operational and service processes and tools in each organisation, and to ensure that they become the standard procedure of both organisations.
A merger gives us an opportunity to view our processes with a fresh eye and pick and implement more efficient systems and processes. This involves transformation timelines, training programmes, and workshops to bring the organisation up to speed on the changes are geared up for the New Year.

Step 5: Engage, Engage and Engage: Communication has been found to be the biggest factor that has the power to make, or break the post-merger integration.
Meanwhile the main body of Zim-SA Forum has already been fused in the leadership of the regional chapter to partake in the meetings and deliberations of the forum to allow constant flow of information and by in from the regional node.
Plans are underway to develop a regular two-way feedback mechanism in order to create sufficient input from the organisational structures and to measure how well the integration strategy is working.
I’m thankful to the outgoing leadership of Zimsacci, and to the efforts of the leadership of the Zim-SA Forum for envisaging the potential quick wins in the integration process.

These need to be celebrated and a sense of positive urgency needs to be created to drive the transformation agenda which advances economic growth and prosperity for Zimbabwe, in general.

The Zim-SA Forum is a unified body that provides a unique platform for Zimbabweans in the diaspora to contribute towards national economic recovery trajectory, poverty eradication, and empowerment of its citizens in the diaspora.
The forum’s aim is thus to become a catalyst and conduit which brings life to the existing areas of co-operation (bi-lateral agreements between Zimbabwe and South Africa) and enhance transformation of the two nations, SADC, and the African sub-region at large for the betterment of human life.
The forum is indeed focusing on continued growth of the expanded organisation, through various avenues, anchored by massive investment drive, both in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The incorporation of Zimsacci that we celebrate today is an epitome of unity of purpose among the Zimbabwean diaspora which is promising the forum to grow beyond the region, the continent to the entire world.
Zim-SA Forum remains the Zimbabwe diaspora’s mouth piece and our platform will forge ahead to constructively engage in various issues concerning the business, the economy, and the future of Zimbabwe.

Zim-SA Forum Western Cape chapter: Committee

Julius Shamu: Chairman

Bennadette Chiwala: Vice-Chairperson

Edmore Chinhamo: Chief Negotiator

Joel Guyana Chabata: Secretary-General

Weston Hussein: Deputy Secretary-General

Primrose Jiri: Deputy Chief Negotiator

Melody Kanguru: Treasurer

Patience Mhlanga: PA/Administrator

 

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Dr Shingi Mutanga is secretary general of the Zim-SA Forum.

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