I wish to start this report marking the Johannesburg Housing Company's (JHC's) first five years by making a bold statement:
The City of Johannesburg is being successfully reclaimed.
When we decided to invest in the inner city, at a time when many were fleeing northwards, our decision appeared to be sheer madness. However, in partnership with the other organisations, which have had faith in the inner city, that decision has been vindicated and is paying very satisfying dividends. I am very proud to be able to say that JHC is among those who are achieving what others thought impossible. T
This success has a very powerful message to convey to the whole country. If we can reclaim a derelict and fast-decaying city and transform it, then all the problems that appear insoluble, all the obstacles that appear insurmountable, are within the bounds of the possible. They are within the scope of what can be achieved.
When we mention the term “social responsibility”, many people think we must be talking about something that is not intellectually rigorous, something that is unprincipled and shuns discipline. At JHC we have demonstrated that one can exercise hard-nosed business professionalism and still be very much alive to social responsibility, faithful to one's social conscience.
In this regard, I take great pride in the Board of JHC, in the calibre of its members whose combined expertise, commitment and social awareness are critical to the success of the Company. Their social awareness is not the kind that is sentimental or weak when it comes to principles, particularly business principles. I t is the kind that respects commercial practices, but is committed to putting these to work for the social good, rather than for the pursuit of profit, which results in exploitation.
The JHC's success over the past five years is due in no small part to our many partners. I wish to thank our investment partners, The European Union, the Flemish Regional government, USAID, Kagiso Trust and NewHco, for their continued confidence in the JHC vision – for keeping faith with us even when that vision appeared, perhaps, to be merely a mirage. We trust that we have risen to the challenge of their best expectations. We are grateful also to the government – national, provincial and local –which shares our vision and has supported us in our mission. And to our tenants, the residents of our buildings, who have caught the vision and participated in the process required to make it a reality. They have made a vital contribution to the success of JHC by sharing with us the gifts of their wisdom and their humanity. Respect for the humanity of those who live in the inner city is thus a hallmark of JHC and its success, because we believe that they have much to offer in the work of regenerating the city, which is, after all, their city.
These first years of JHC shaped some key principles that can profitably be embraced not only in the inner city, but also by all those seeking to inject vibrancy and new life into our society:
- Courage to take risks
- Business innovation to think creatively in order to find solutions
- Strong social consciousness
- Skill at nurturing, harnessing and focusing available expertise and
- Fierce determination to succeed
All these characteristics have been visible in the life and work of the JHC in the past five years. During this time, as our mission has broadened to encompass the regeneration of the inner city, we have not lost sight of our primary focus – an uncompromising commitment to providing decent affordable housing. We have not abandoned our core belief that the inner city does not have to be an enemy of all that makes for a decent life. We are proving that families can live there with dignity, and in safety.
The word which best encapsulates what we plan for JHC's short-term future is “growth”. We intend to continue growing the Company by increasing the number of housing units available, and by growing people. By people, we mean the tenants of our buildings and their surrounding communities through our community and precinct development programmes; and JHC personnel, through staff development. Staff training is one of the areas in which JHC prides itself, and to which we remain committed. It is training which helps maintain the standards of professionalism that make the Company what it is.
Whilst our primary area of operation is the inner city of Johannesburg , we recognise that there are other cities in South Africa that could benefit from the kind of innovation that JHC has demonstrated. We will continue to explore ways in which we can share our expertise with our counterparts in those cities.
Finally, I want to salute all the staff at JHC – much of the success of these first five years is due to the dedicated efforts of the entire team. Their ability has been recognised nationally. Our CEO, Taffy Adler, was voted Gauteng Housing Person of the Year, this year. Dombolo Masilela, his PA, was first runner-up in the National Secretary of the year competition, the first black person among the winners of this competition. And, at the time of writing, JHC is a finalist in the Business Day Non-listed company of the Year Competition. This public recognition is testimony to the level of professionalism that JHC personnel display and an indication of what this country is capable of. It is something of which I am immensely proud and is an inspiration to all South Africans.
Rev Mvume Dandala
Click on the link below to view and download the complete JHC 2000 Annual Report:
JHC 2000 Annual Report