Chairman’s Annual Report

(For Period 1st January 2020 to 31st December 2020)

Patrons : Adrian Gardiner    David Hughes    Mark McNulty    Ms Aviva Pelham   

The broad objective of the Trust (as described in the Notarial Deed) shall be to provide food, medical and other practical assistance for the benefit of persons who, in the opinion of the Trustees, are poor, needy and destitute; including (but without limitation thereof) refugees and persons displaced as a result of victimization and political and social circumstances.

The primary focus is directed to persons over the age of 65 from Zimbabwe who reside in in South Africa and who are identified as being in real financial need. A secondary focus has been added which is to assist similarly destitute people living in Zimbabwe, including the upliftment of the old age homes in which many reside. This will be subject to the availability of funds and successfully satisfying the requirements of the detailed financial means questionnaire.

On the 30th September 2020, Leon Jacobs retired as Chairman and Trustee of the M’dala Trust.

Leon will be well known to most readers of this annual report, having proudly authored it over the past 16 years.

In late 2003, Leon, together with a few others, identified the hardships of former Zimbabweans living, then, in the Western Cape, South Africa. The Trust was officially formed in 2004.

It was registered with both the South African Department of Social Development as a Non-Profit Organisation and the South African Revenues Services as a Public Benefit Organisation.

Its Notarial Deed of Trust was registered with the Master of the High Court of South Africa.

With that began a 16-year story that has brought relief to many former Zimbabweans living in South Africa. With no exception these elderly persons were in real financial need, who without the monthly support of M’dala Trust, would have suffered even greater hardship.

This was Leon’s vision and passion – to help those who, through no fault of their own, found themselves at an advanced age, without financial support and in most cases without the support of family.

Through Leon’s leadership the M’dala Trust reached out, across the globe, to other former Zimbabweans. His appeal clearly touched many wonderfully generous countrymen and women and since then more than R10 million has been donated to the Trust by.

Without that support, none of what Leon had sought to achieve would have been possible.

The Trustees and all those who have benefited from the Trust will join us in thanking Leon for his effortless contribution and leadership.

It is with a great sense of loss and sadness that we share with you the passing of Professor Paul Sulcas. Paul was a patron of M’dala Trust until he retired during 2020. He greatly contributed to the growth of the Trust. Paul might be more widely known for his contribution to the University of Cape Town both in the Department of Accounting and the Business School. Paul’s work with the Trust continues through his wife, Aviva Pelham, another well-known Zimbabwean. We continue to benefit from, and are grateful for, the support of Dave Hughes, Mark McNulty and Adrian Gardner, all of whom contribute both in kind and in publicly promoting the needs of the beneficiaries of the Trust.

Along with Leon retiring during 2020, so did Ant Grace. Ant was a founder member of the Trust and will be remembered by many for his organizing the annual golf day. Within the Trust he selflessly gave his time to nurture its beginnings and see it evolve to being a great source of benefit to many. Many thanks for your efforts, Ant.

M’dala Trust has been incredibly fortunate to have Charles Montgomery, Chris Bradshaw, Richard Balance and Sandy Irvine join the remaining Ian Johnson and myself as Trustees. The activity of the Trust this past year, notwithstanding COVID, has been notched up many times over.

This team meets monthly and communicates almost daily as it creates and executes plans to increase the inflow of funds and almost as quickly distribute those to needy Zimbabweans across the whole of South Africa and into Zimbabwe. It is an incredible team.

Professional Support
Mr Eric Salomon (of Eric Salomon and Company) provides the auditing service to the Trust. Eric has been doing this pro bono since the beginning. Not only is this a critical part of the Trust’s governances, but Eric’s wisdom is greatly valued.

A monthly financial report is presented at each trustee meeting. Annually these are audited by auditors, Eric Salomon and Company and submitted to the Department of Social Development.

The financial demands on the Trust are great but what might not be well known is that typically the Trust commits to supporting a beneficiary for the remainder of their natural lives. This can be for as many as 20 years. To ensure that the Trust has the reserves sufficient to cover this need, we apply a model forecasting future demands and the required funding to meet that. We are pleased to report that, given current experience, we are of the opinion that the Trust will continue to meet that expectation.

We currently support 24 elderly persons with monthly financial donations, essentially, food and toiletries. In 2020, payments to beneficiaries increased to R843 000, 21% more than the previous year.

In the current year, 2021, payments to beneficiaries and other projects (old age homes in Zimbabwe) are forecast to double that of 2020.

To finance this significant increase in payments, donations and fund-raising receipts have grown considerably such that at September 2021 our net reserves had increased by 33% over the previous year.

Our support programs
Our main support remains providing monthly financial support. The average age of these elderly people is 82.

During 2020 we also contributed R300 000 to the Zimbabwe Pensioner Supporter Fund (ZPDF) which delivered food parcels to elderly persons in Zimbabwe. The expressions of thanks that we received demonstrates how grateful they are for what was less than a week’s food per person supported. This reflects the vulnerability of elderly people in Zimbabwe.

During 2021 we have embarked on a major capital project to improve the physical structure of Zimbabwe old age homes. The Trust has set aside R1 million for this purpose for 2021. The estimated cost of the total project over the next few years exceeds R5 million. As this is well beyond our normal capacity, we will likely make a special appeal for funds for this specific project.

Our largest source of funding are the monthly and annual donations that we receive from incredibly generous current and former Zimbabweans. These donations range from a few hundred Rands per month to staggering amounts of more than R300 000 from annual donors. Each of these make it possible to help another Zimbabwean pensioner or provide solar lighting and water reticulation to an old age home. Without each donor’s support none of this would be possible.

On behalf of the Trust’s pensioners, we would like to thank all our generous donors for their ongoing support.

COVID-19 triggered the cancellation of our major annual fund-raising event – the 2020 golf day.

However, we will more than make up for this in 2021 as the Trust will for the first time, be holding simultaneous golf events in Durban and Cape Town.

Also in 2021 the Trust held what might be a first ever on-line art auction of mostly Zimbabwean pieces of art. This alone raised nearly R250 000.

Other fund-raising events are planned.

Estate Planning Facility
The saying “pay less by giving more” also applies to estate duty.

M’dala Trust is a register Public Benefit Organisation and bequests made by individuals in wills are deductible and not subject to estate duty.

We have been fortunate to receive a number of bequests.

In addition, we have a facility with Sentinel Trust that provides that wills, administered by Sentinel, and which include a provision that the testator is a supporter of M’dala Trust (no more than just that!), then the M’dala Trust will receive a proportion of the executor’s fees.

Business Continuity Planning
The M’dala Trust business continuity plan ensures that the Trust’s operating and management processes, and business functionality, will not be placed in jeopardy, should the administrator cease to be able to perform his/her functions.

Thank you all for your ongoing and generous support.

Nick Linnell
On behalf of the Trustees
28th September 2021