Dear Editor


Two boys, Bernard and Hans, were cycling on a mountain road with their mother. Bernard (a bit of a dog but no St.) was having a furious argument with his mother which ended with him pushing her over a cliff. “Look, Hans, no Ma!” he exclaimed. Iscor’s Saldanha Project is headed by Bernard Smith whilst Hans Smith has an even bigger “billet” at Iscor, Pretoria.
THE Project is having problems – and Iscor may have one chairman too many, even for them.
Bearing in mind Bernard’s previous, unfulfilled, aspirations to be chairman of JCI and, more recently, Billiton, will this be a case of third time lucky? Can we soon expect to hear “Look, Ma, no Hans?” With the price of steel at R3 000 per ton, there is scope for improvement. Watch this space – and the Iscor share price.

Fade away

Your food correspondent, in describing Vergelegen (nose11) comments that the buildings have been painted a kacky yellow colour called Naples yellow – “by someone’s favourite decorator”. I was the decorator. I now wish to use this opportunity of putting an end to the often repeated inaccuracy that I was responsible for choosing this colour. The decision to paint Vergelegen ochre was taken by the architects, together with their clients. It was based on a colour found during a scrape which suggested that at some stage the house was painted that colour, as indeed were many other Cape buildings.
There are no rigid rights and wrongs in restoring a house that has changed over 250 years. My own view was that since great efforts were being made – correctly I felt – to preserve Vergelegen as it was in the Phillips’ era, the house should be white, reflecting the arts and crafts passion shared by Cecil Rhodes, Lady Phillips, Herbert Baker, Dr W F Purcell and the other cognoscenti of the day for the teak and whitewash combination to be found in Cape architecture.
Graham Viney
Bantry Bay

The traditional ochre would have been a lime wash that quickly assumed a powdery, faded look – with little resemblance to the crass plastic colour chosen by the architects responsible for the restoration. It is nice to know that you are not to blame, and that your good taste can always be relied upon. – Ed.

Far out . . . and fed up

I would have left sleeping mongrels to lie and allowed the errors in Maureen Barnes’ reply to my letter (nose12) pass but for her affirmation of the importance of accuracy. I am not a consultant to Vergelegen. I was invited to be a director, and then subsequently invited to resign without ever having attended a directors’ meeting and without ever having received a director’s fee. These are not difficult facts to check.
Michael Fridjhon

We did check. Vergelegen Manager, Mr J Vermeulen, told us that they “use Mr Fridjhon as a consultant from time to time”. You clearly have a different view of your relationship, and we are happy to record it.
Company records show that Mr Fridjhon was appointed to the board of Vergelegen Estate Wines (Pty) Ltd on 1 October 1992, and that he retired from the board on 30 September 1994. Members of the public assume that when someone has accepted appointment as a director of a company – and remains on record as such for two years – he has also accepted responsibility for its direction. This is presumably what Anglo American had in mind when it named someone with Mr Fridjhon’s considerable reputation as a member of its wine estate’s board. It now appears that the public were misled – AND he was not paid – all of which is regrettable. – Ed.

High as a kite on SAFM

I thought you might be interested in learning how to fly a kite with SAFM New Speak (Maureen Barnes’ column, nose12): First you need a Level Playing Field, making sure there are no Structures on the Ground. At this point in time you need to settle the issue of the Mechanisms of Flight, on the basis, and in terms of, the policy of Centralised Power, i.e., you the kite flyer and the free winds of change – the strategy and moral principle is such that a constraining force should equally represent the wind’s power.
The problems to be faced and taken into account is a situation whereby a disadvantaged kite flyer may not get the same response in a rural as in a transitional metropolitan area because the procedure to be followed, and the capacity to engage effectively, was not registered. On the kite agenda was a policy pertaining to a Transference and Devolution of Power. R D P (Real Diving Problems) is then experienced and despite building on human resources and much bargaining, resolution conflict is inevitable as your kite impacts upon the grassroots. A transparent kite, with no strings attached, is probably your answer.
Andrew Cross

Crulife: Where's the King?

I am sure your readers are well versed in the utterances and writings of Mervyn King and his well-publicised Commission, whose sole concern is “good corporate governance”. He rambles on about how directors must be more open and honest in their dealings with
shareholders etc. Now here’s the part I find interesting. King is a director of Anglovaal Insurance Holdings (AVINS). AVINS is a 60% shareholder in Crulife. Sitting on the AVINS board with King are the two Daves – De Beer and Barber. Barber is high up in Anglovaal Ltd and De Beer took over from Don Rowand as chairman of Crulife.
The two Daves, both directors of Crulife and – of course – having nothing to hide, have applied, successfully, to the Supreme Court for protection from having to testify at the enquiry into the collapse of Crulife. How does that sit with King and his principles of good corporate governance? Surely the chairman of Crulife and a fellow director, should be compelled by King to give his version of what went wrong at Crulife? Or do King’s principles apply to all companies – except those on whose boards he sits?
Cape Town

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