CHAIRMANS REPORT ABC AGM 2017 by Thomas Zilk, May 2017

Two important numbers – 25 and 21. Thomas Zilk’s last Chairman’s Report

In 1992, 25 years ago I came to SA.

21, the other important number is the amount of years the ABC is in existence as independent body and business chamber. I am indeed proud to have been involved since the founding of the independent ABC as member of the board, as vice chairman and as chairman.

The ABC has always meant much more to me than just being a “hobby” as I jokingly sometimes say to people and I spend with pleasure and satisfaction an estimated over 2500 hours working for and with the ABC and ABC board.

2016 was again a very busy year and a successful year and we trust that we offered our members interesting events and networking opportunities.

The ABC continues to conduct close relations with the European Bilateral Chambers. We we have been active with contributions within the bilateral chambers network in SA and government agencies as well as with networking with important organisations and personalities.

The ABC continues to have strong ties with the EU delegation in SA, and I am one of the 8 founding directors of the EU Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Southern Africa. In this function, I attended 4 board meeting representing the ABC in the board. The EU Chamber as umbrella chamber for the bilateral EU chambers in SA is a powerful lobbying and advocacy body. We have for example launched the business climate survey 2017 just recently, engage with government on minister level on subject like equity equivalence, BBBEE ownership, migration just to mention a few

Back to the ABC. The ABC around 100 members and @ this stage I strongly encourage you as I do it every year to invite friends and business associates to join the ABC.

In the financial year ending Feb 2017 the ABC generated excellent results with an income of 362.576.- out of member’s subscriptions and events, resulting in a net surplus of 75.152.- in comparison to 7.828.- (16), the retained surplus increased to 304.956.- from 245.500,- (16).

The ABC board conducted 11 board meetings and I would like to thank my board colleagues for their time, effort and valuable contribution (introduction of my board colleagues):

Christian Neuberger – Deputy Chairman

Johannes Brunner – Honorary Vice Chairman

Deon Hellberg – Finances

Richard H Leiter

Gerhart Mischinger


Reinhad von Ludwiger

Marco Erath


Resigned from the board during the business year:

Ralph M Ertner

Paul Fried

Max J Hussmann


Also new in the team is Sheri-Leigh Pienaar, Sheri-Leigh is a lawyer by profession working at Werth-Schroeder Atorneys and is since a few months the ABC company secretary. She does this voluntary/unpaid and i want to thank Sheri-Leigh, Mr Schroeder and Mr Werth for giving us the oportunity to have such a professional person in our team!

Last but not at all least – our very special Monika Kopp (ABC Administrator) who is on in the Kruger Park. Monika is a most dedicated, loyal and efficient member of the ABC team and I thank her for her support and her good share of last year’s success. .

At this point I would like to mention some of the events we organised for you:

19.01.2016 ABC Special Sundowner with our then new EU Ambassador DR Marcus Cornaro – Balalaika
18.02.2016 Roedl and Partner, Capital Gains Tax Workshop and Sundowner – The Codfather
03.03.2016 Dawie Roodt Budget Talk – “Should we stay or should we run” – The Codfather
07.04.2016 ABC 20th Anniversary Special Cocktail Function – The Saxon Hotel
18.05.2016 ABC Annual General Meeting with guest speaker Gauteng Premier David Makhura – Balalaika
10.06.2016 ABC Annual Golf Day – Houghton Golf Club
22.06.2016 ABC Cruising Sundowner – at Cruises International
28.07.2016 ABC Winter Sundowner with “Gluehwein” – Balalaika
01.09.2016 ABC Networking Evening with Max Boqwana – Faircity Quartermain Hotel
03.10.2016 ABC Networking evening with MP Ian Ollis – “How parliament works” – Balalaika
03.11.2016 ABC Business Luncheon with Moeletsi Mbeki – “What’s wrong with SA today” – JCCWoodmead
23.11.2016 ABC Dawie Roodt Presentation /Year end Sundowner – “The economics of Demographics”
CHRISTMAS FUNCTION at the residence of our Trade Commissioner Johannes Brunner and a special Thank You to his wife Franziska.
26.01.2017 ABC Roedl and Partner – Tax Amnesty Workshop and Sundowner – Balalaika
27.02.1017 ABC Dawie Roodt – Budget  – “Pravins dangerous vocation and a budget under siege”
28.03.2017 ABC Networking get together at Power Africa and Sundowner at San Deck ,
20.04.2017 ABC workshop “Could you defend yourself and your loved ones if you had to?” – Balalaika
18.05.2017 ABC Annual General Meeting –  with guest speaker JHB Mayor Mr Herman Mashaba
Other events / surveys  ABC was involved in:
Sep-16 EU Chamber of Commerce and Industry in SA Business Climate Survey
Sep-16 ABC Vocational Education and Training Survey with Zuriel College
Mar-17 3 Country Games – Austrian Club JHB
Mar-17 Ambassadors Network Reception at Amabssadors Home


Under leadership of our board member Reinhart we are working on a ABC marketing plan with the aim to increase membership, raise the profile of the ABC within the SA business world and identify new/more membership benefits.

I have always kept a tight policy if it comes to spending and negotiated very favourable conditions with suppliers, hence the surplus we have achieved. We are now able to invest in new programs and activities to provide more benefits to you, our members.

At this point I would like again (as often before) seriously encourage you to voice your opinion, provide constructive criticism and come forward with suggestions and maybe offer the board your co-operation in new projects. We have the money, we have the will and we have the talent in the board (so you choose to re-elect the board) to build for you a stronger and more meaningful ABC – but you must guide us by telling us what you expect/want!

Board member Marco has been working during the last few months on our new membership folder which will be published end of this month (even the photos are done by him), our membership incentive program offering all existing members for each lead that results in a new membership a 150.- R  voucher for dinner at THE BREWERY, our friend Hans Schulter’s authentic Austrian Cuisine restaurant at the Randpark Golf Club. He also was in the team together with me and Johannes for the creation of the new ABC website – and it’s up and running and I think it is very good. Our ABC member Martin Spautz has built it for us and he is also handling our now very active Facebook and LinkedIn social media.

Marco, I know that you are currently very busy in building up your own business more so it is commendable that you put so much effort and time in ABC projects.

Gerhard has been busy with the ABC internship project of which you will hear more soon and as very experienced board member (like me a man of the first hour) Gerhard is a valuable source of information and guidance.

Johannes and his team had been excellent co-operation partners, he also has offered lots of good advice and is a great sounding board and he is heading the “Austrian Company Awards’ project – this event will take place in beginning of the 4th quarter of this year.

Deon in his role as ‘Minister of Finance’ has excelled with a financial management and reporting system that would make most of the parastatal companies in SA proud and he is also leading the ABC Golf Day organisation.

Richard is our connection to big business and is a great help with his vast network of top business contacts in South Africa and a great support of the ABC board.

At this stage I want to mention our new membership structure with the membership options of the Classic and the Premium membership – you should all have received by now the mail with invoice for the membership 2017 and this mail written in excellent style as usual by our VP Christian, contains a clear explanation of the many advantages the Premium membership contains.

Christian was again an excellent Vice chairman for the last year with keeping calm, pragmatic and focused when I had my emotional moments. He is also still our very gifted publisher the fabulous ABC Newsletters. The next one will be available soon. Again I am bringing to your attention that member’s contributions with articles and newsworthy messages are not only welcome but I required.

Dear ABC members and friends, I am now coming to the end of my report with a few words about myself.

As mentioned before I am since 21 years passionately involved in the ABC, I have founded the then new Austrian Club, I have organized since 1993 with great help of first Gisela Errath and then Irmgard Ulrich the Grand Viennese Ball and have been involved in many activities in and for the Austrian community in SA. I have been and will always be a very patriotic and proud Austrian and it was an absolute pleasure to serve our community. It was rewarding in every way, I received in  2011 from the Austrian State President the  “Goldene Verdienstzeichen der Republic Oesterreich” for my work for the Austrian Community. This made me proud, but more reward than that was your friendship the many fun hours we had together.

I have at the last ACJ board meeting resigned from the board of the Austrian Club which I was also board member of since its founding and now I am saying good by as Chairman of the ABC . The ABC AGM 2017 was my last AGM in this function and

I will also not be available for re-election in the board of the ABC.

I will obviously stay a member of the ABC and although I will be most of the time out of Joburg I sincerely hope and am looking forward to see many of you again at the one or other ABC function in the future.

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