Free State the site of entrepreneurial excellence

13 March 2013 - 03:43 By Peter Delmar
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Dear Tumi Ntsele,

As you are no doubt aware, I delight in saluting the achievements of our home-grown small businesspeople.

Your entrepreneurial achievements are truly breathtaking. They have been on such a wondrous scale it was inevitable that salaried bureaucrats at the Treasury and impecunious penny-a-liners would question your dazzling success.

Mark my words: envy hangs on the coattails of achievement. (This is a well-known aphorism that I've just made up; you might want to keep it up your sleeve.) That you pocketed R40-million or so to design and run a website for the Free State government is a thing of rare entrepreneurial pluck.

I read in City Press that the meddlesome Treasury is now questioning why Premier Ace Magashule's office was appointing advertising agencies and website designers and other media-type things left, right and centre as if there were something sinister in this. Bah humbug.

When I was last in Bloemfontein I was struck by what a strident, sprawling metropolis it had become under the watchful guidance and astute leadership of Magashule and his expert administrators. I am sure in this thriving capital of robust commerce and progressive government a thrusting little entrepreneur such as yourself has never even met the premier.

In the Sunday Times, Arthur Goldstuck wrote that the website in question could have been built for R20 000, although he acknowledged that the client might have paid R25000 to R125000 for something called a "planning and speccing process". Goldstuck adds someone might have had to fork out R10000 or so for journalists to do a bit of scribbling about what the provincial government had been up to.

Clearly what Goldstuck wrote is nothing more than sour grapes. For instance, you and I both know that you didn't spend a bean on journalistic services. (Incidentally, I think you might want to rethink all the references to the Free State resembling a bean or being "beanlike".)

As someone who writes for a living, I am in awe of your premier's message. Almost 250 words and not the slightest semblance of meaning. Magnificent profit maximisation, Tumi. Just magnificent. Who needs real journalists anyway?

But, to be frank, the "Interesting facts" section was a bit boring. I mean, how interesting is it that the Ficksburg cherry festival is the oldest "crop" festival in the country?

Or that Bothaville hosts one of the world's largest agricultural festivals? (A word to the wise: I think this is actually a bit of a porky pie, as is the "interesting" fact about the DH Steyn bridge being almost 3km long. Incidentally, you might want to check your "fact" on what the Bothaville jolly is actually called and what Icasa stands for and does. Oh, and while I'm at it, you don't spell "calender" that way. And, entirely BTW, I would have thought that Bloemfontein 1912 could have merited a mention. You know: world's oldest liberation movement, that sort of thing, but I accept that these matters are entirely subjective.)

When I read the Economy section of your R40-million website I was, to be perfectly honest, laughing so hard I thought I was going to have an aneurism. Tumi, I think the opening salvo about "majestic horizons, angelic blue skies and sprawling mountains" is just ever so slightly over the top.

I'm really not sure what your in-house copywriters were trying to say when they wrote about the Orange and Vaal rivers "effortlessly" forming various provincial borders. Nor do I quite get what your guys meant about the Klip River "elegantly" completing the boundary picture. Frankly, I think Lesotho's "nestling magically in the hollow of [the Free State's] beanlike shape" is a trifle fanciful. (Do you ever breathalyse your staff? Again, suggest you give up the bean metaphor.)

The assertion that "the eastern part boosts rolling mountainous" is hardly going to boost my confidence as a potential outside investor.

But these are minor quibbles and I have no doubt Letlaka Media has the resources to fix these gremlins without too much fuss and bother.

Well done on your artful profit maximisation, Tumi. You deserve a medal. I have no doubt that Magashule has one with your name on it, for services rendered to the entrepreneurial cause of the Free State. Or some such.

·Don't miss the auction of fine South African photography in aid of the John Liebenberg Hip Op Appeal on Monday at Stephan Welz, Rosebank, Johannesburg, from 6.30pm. Amazing pictures and a worthy cause.

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