Despite the highly technological emphasis of our
various businesses, Reunert retains a notably strong focus on building and
developing human capital, whether in partnership with our employees in the
workplace, or in partnership with the communities in which we operate.
Established in 1993 as an academic advancement programme for matriculants from
disadvantaged communities, Reunert College has become the jewel of the group’s
social development activities. The college’s primary focus is to assist
learners from historically disadvantaged communities to improve their
matriculation grades for the academic subjects of mathematics, science and
English. The college also provides an academic bridging year to assist those
students who want to enroll for tertiary education in science and technology
To date, more than 500 learners have participated directly in the college’s
matriculation-orientated academic advancement courses at its Boksburg and
Alrode campuses. In addition, learners from surrounding communities are also
accommodated in the study-group system through which high school learners
receive their course notes and study guides, and meet weekly on Saturday
mornings for formal instruction and guidance. This latter initiative involves
the college’s own teachers, acting as voluntary facilitators, and community
teachers. Fifty-seven learners benefited from this Reunert commitment during
The participating learners’ average matriculation pass rate achieved to date
exceeds 98%, which is substantially above the national average achieved for
math's and science. In addition, Reunert College students regularly achieve
distinctions in higher grade mathematics and science. As a result, several
students have been able to enter the engineering field and a few others are
currently studying at a university or technikon.
Other subjects offered by the college include accounting, business economics,
computer skills, English and technical drawing, as well as communication and
life skills. In addition, drama, art, debating, choir singing and soccer are
among the extramural activities provided for college learners.
The Reunert College is accredited for experiential training by the technikons
of the Witwatersrand, the Vaal Triangle and Pretoria. The college is also an
examination centre registered with the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE)
and its learnership in electronics is accredited with the City and Guilds in
the United Kingdom. Most of the students qualify in the field of electrical
engineering, followed by mechanical and industrial engineering.
The Reunert Bursary Fund is an essential part of the college and more than 360
bursaries have been awarded since its inception. The group has subsequently
employed many of our bursary students, either as part of their practical or
experiential training, or as permanent employees.
African Cables has granted 261 bursaries in the past eight years in a wide
range of disciplines. ATC’s R300 000 annual bursary scheme currently supports
about 50 beneficiaries.
During 2003 Reunert introduced a trendsetting employee mentorship programme, a
developmental process aimed at guiding less experienced employees by other,
more experienced employees, or mentors. The programme was implemented
predominantly to retain and develop high-performing staff, especially people
from previously disadvantaged communities. The programme assists with the
effective integration of new employees, as well as those joining the group as a
result of acquisitions and mergers.
The resulting increase and improvement in communication across different
employee levels and disciplines throughout the group has helped to motivate
employees and to entrench a much stronger corporate knowledge and culture.
Other benefits of mentorship include the development of more effective career
guidance and succession planning systems, as well as the provision of greater
support for the essential competencies that are being built through our ongoing
skills development programme.
Our highly successful employee mentorship programme was started in early-2003.
It has become so effective that there is currently a waiting list in the group
companies for employees at all levels to participate in this programme.
The mentorship programme is unique because most corporate mentorship programmes
only aim at training mentors who eventually will interact with their protégés,
but, in the case of Reunert, both the protégé and the mentor undergo an initial
programme, which is one of the key reasons for our success thus far.
While mentorship programmes have been in place in many companies since the
early-1990s (even before that in the United States of America), a common
mistake has been to focus too much on trying to foster better understanding
between different cultural groups. Our experience has shown that an
understanding between people is important, but the most important goal is the
need to create a common and sustainable companywide business culture.
This common culture should be built around productivity and value-adding with
the understanding that employees will only stay and prosper in a particular
organisation if they sincerely believe they are making a positive contribution.
An employee who is able to add value in his or her job is respected by his or
her colleagues and, accordingly, will seldom be tempted to leave his or her
At Reunert, this innovative process starts with cultural interaction at the
college where students, through life-skills training, develop an excellent
perspective of such issues as the importance of developing a solid work ethic
and shared values about contributing towards the sustainable wellbeing and
growth of a company, as well as workplace satisfaction, being part of a
successful team and what making a contribution means for developing and
maintaining one’s self-esteem. We are currently evaluating the feasibility of
implementing an adapted version of the mentorship programme into the college.
As a result of such positive interventions, it is our sincere belief that we
shall be able to recruit, employ and develop employees from different
backgrounds who will be happy to work for any Reunert company. With a solid
grounding in the group’s core values, as well as the self-esteem derived from
being empowered to add value, Reunert believes these employees will not be
lured away by the prospects of short-term gains at the expense of longer-term
personal growth and development.
Other training and development initiatives
In addition to the excellent work being undertaken by the college, several
Reunert companies are actively involved in driving beneficial education and
training programmes in their local communities.
In co-operation with Riverside High School near Vereeniging, which was chosen
for its excellent academic record, as well as its teaching staff’s
qualifications in remedial education, African Cables has been sponsoring a
Saturday school in order to improve the competence in English, mathematics and
science of children from designated groups in grades 8 to 12. With an improved
grade in these three subjects, more children from designated groups will have
access to a university or technikon education.
As a result of the supplementary and remedial education these children
received, they showed a marked improvement in their results. Many of these
children, after completing a year at the Saturday school, were accommodated in
the traditional Model C schools, where they were able to adapt to the new
academic environment and progress towards undertaking a university or technikon
Since 1994 African Cables has assisted 447 children from designated groups, an
investment that will generate significant returns in the future.
ATC has embarked on a joint process with other companies in the cable industry
to develop a dedicated curriculum for a cable-maker learnership. The exercise
is undertaken under the auspices of Manufacturing and Engineering Sectoral
Education and Training Authority (MERSETA). Technikon South Africa (Technisa)
will develop the required course content. Learners embarking on this
learnership will have to have a basic education equivalent to level two as
defined by the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).
The group therefore plans to reintroduce compulsory adult basic education and
training (ABET) for employees who have not yet achieved NQF level-two
competency. Reunert’s ABET programme will be conducted through a computer-based
Reunert’s commitment to training and development and the expertise available in
the group are widely recognised in South Africa. Reunert’s training managers
are represented on committees and subcommittees of both SETAs (sectoral
education and training authorities) applicable to the group’s operations. The
Reunert training and development manager serves as one of three industry
appointed representatives of the National Skills Authority.
While Reunert’s principal social investment efforts are focused on supporting
and advancing education and training programmes in under resourced communities,
group companies are also encouraged, where feasible, to develop other community
development and support initiatives. Nashua, for example, has selected the Aids
challenge as the focus of its social investment programme because of the
critical status of this epidemic in South Africa.
Nashua’s social investment efforts therefore continue to be concentrated on the
supporting programmes and organisation that exist to counter and manage the
HIV/Aids pandemic, a scourge that affects, and will continue to affect, every
South African corporate entity. Recognising that it could play a more positive
role, Nashua launched the Nashua versus Aids campaign in March 2001. Nkosi’s
Haven was selected as the beneficiary of this initiative and Nashua continues
to support this organisation.
The initial Nashua vs Aids campaign raised more than R500 000, including the
purchase of an adjacent building for the much-needed expansion of the Aids
sanctuary. These funds were released in a controlled manner to the haven in
accordance with their renovations and financial requirements. The new Nashua
Nkosi’s Haven was opened ceremonially in November 2002.
Nashua continues to support Nkosi’s Haven. Its most recent show of support was
its donation to the haven of the financial proceeds from the recent fundraising
event, the Nashua Corporate Soccer Festival. Nashua retains an active, hands-on
approach to sponsorships and donations, and chooses to manage the resources
itself. Rather than hand over money, Nashua uses funds to purchase those
essential items most needed by the Aids haven.
As a continuation of its focus on the HIV/Aids pandemic, Nashua also launched
its own internal Aids awareness campaign. Initially designed to educate its own
employees, this effort has since been extended into the community. The most
recent efforts have included a focus on senior primary schoolchildren. The
slogan, Spread the word and not the disease, epitomises the fundamental message
behind these efforts.
Nashua’s Aids awareness programme was extended to the Alexandra and Ivory Park
regions of central Gauteng in July 2002. Similar efforts were introduced during
2003 and were focused on individual schools in other regions of central
Gauteng. Where the Alex/Ivory Park effort combined schools in a mass gathering,
current efforts saw the Nashua internal Aids committee targeting six schools in
the greater Thembisa area over two days. Joined by the Hecate drama group
performing their Secrets and Lies dramatic play, they educated and enlightened
various grade-seven classes.
Reunert is fortunate not to have experienced any significant direct effect on
its businesses from the Aids pandemic. The group enforces a non-discriminatory
Aids policy and most group companies have established Aids education programmes
to provide staff with up-to-date information on HIV and Aids prevention and
Other social involvement
Group companies are encouraged to become involved in their local communities.
Companies are involved in fundraising, crime prevention and several other
community support initiatives. African Cables is involved with the
Anchor/Tshiya Savings and Credit Co-operative in the Vaal Triangle area. This
community organisation has been developed with the threefold objective of
helping the community to achieve economic empowerment, freeing workers from the
burdens of debts, loan sharks and pyramid schemes, and of creating economic
Nashua has for many years supported the efforts of the Reach for a Dream
Foundation. From office equipment to golf-day sponsorships to flights for
families of terminally ill children, often in conjunction with other sponsors,
Nashua has always extended a generous hand.
Black economic empowerment
Reunert has adopted a multi-level approach to developing and progressing
programmes for the advancement of black economic empowerment (BEE). At the
level of the listed company, Reunert continues to actively seek appropriate
shareholder groups who can add value to the group’s business strategy and
At the level of our operating companies, several companies have already secured
the participation of strategic BEE shareholders. Kgorong Investment Holdings –
currently holds 10% of Reutech Radar Systems (RRS), 25% in ATC and 30% of
Reunert Defence Logistics (RDL). In addition, Kgorong holds two seats on each
of the RDL, ATC and RRS boards of directors.
Wherever possible, group companies outsource to, or partner, with BEE
companies. African Cables helped to establish Bogabane Engineering, which
currently operates from the African Cables business premises. Other small,
micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) used by African Cables include Atlehang Ma
Afrika, Doocks Construction and XYLO. These companies employ 64 people and
African Cables’ business orders placed with these SMMEs during the 2003
financial year amounted to almost R4 million.
Other group companies, where possible, are also using local SMMEs owned and
operated by BEE individuals and groups.
At a company level, all operating companies are committed to employment equity
in terms of the Employment Equity Act of 1998 and continue to progress well in
training and promoting staff within a framework of equity as defined by the
Act. Within each group operating company, staff have been identified for, and
provided with, further training at various levels. Promotion from within, and
on merit, is the group’s primary means of job advancement, and is free from any
form of discrimination.
Preferential recruitment is given to suitably qualified people from designated
groups, which encompass Africans, Indians, Coloureds, women and people with
The group, through selection, recruitment, training and internal promotions, is
creating a pool of employees from designated groups with the requisite
competence to perform at all levels within the organisation.
The Reunert group integrates much of its philosophy and many of its practices
in the fields of corporate social investment and human resources development
with the conviction that we can unlock greater synergy when we focus on the
greater need to develop and support people, thereby bringing them yet closer to
fulfilling their dreams and their potential. Integral to our human resources
development commitments, we maintain a successful training and development
committee that serves the existing and projected future human capital interests
of the entire group.
The primary aim of our group training and development committee is to first
meet the statutory requirements of the Skills Development Act of 1998. We must,
for example, design, implement and maintain dedicated training and development
programmes for each employee. All group companies have established their
mandatory training and development programmes for each of their employees.
In addition, our employees, including senior managers, are also assessed
frequently with the overriding objective of enabling them to make a maximum
contribution to the group’s development and to the development of their own
successful careers. In some instances, we send employees to specialised
training institutions both in South Africa and overseas to advance their
education and training. Extensive programmes are also maintained internally to
train and develop employees.
Sound structures and communication are maintained with the 24 trade unions
recognised by the group. Consequently, Reunert has continued to enjoy a low
incidence of industrial action during the last few years.
In addition, members of our group pension fund have individual choice in
selecting their investment portfolios. Each quarter, the investment performance
of each of the group’s benefit funds is communicated to staff in order to allow
them to switch investment portfolios if required. This commitment enables all
employees to maintain responsibility for their own retirement planning.