Kimberley’s Chamber – Conclusion
Many of the chain stores relinquished membership in 1979 creating a mini catastrophe in the ranks of the Chamber, but by the time of the Centenary in 1980 membership had again risen to total some 170.
Nicholas Oppenheimer, heir to the De Beers and Anglo-American dynasty of his grandfather Sir Ernest and father, Harry, was the guest speaker at the Centenary banquet held at the Savoy Hotel on 9 October 1980. He expanded on the views of his grandfather when saying that the “diamond mines that have been so important these last one hundred years cannot continue forever and during the next 15 to 20 years the responsibilities resting on business and commerce will become heavier as the great mines gradually phase out of production. Efforts to expand the city commercially and industrially must be redoubled to provide the employment opportunities that your growing population will require and expect, without reliance on the mining industry.”
“Kimberley in the past has set the pace for the country and I see no reason why it cannot do so again.”
The early 1980s was a difficult time for Kimberley, with many businesses going insolvent or into liquidation. There was horrendous unemployment and retrenchment across the board, and the Rand plummeted to 20 cents below its value of 1973. The continued apartheid laws and regulations were not good for business and economic sanctions was beginning to be felt by all.
In 1985 the first Chamber of Commerce annual booklet was produced bringing in some much needed revenue, and, through the efforts of Lawrie Shuttleworth, the re-introduced Kimberley tram was earning the city not only cash but friends as well with some 70 000 visitors riding the tram in 1985 and 1986. The Central Business District (CBD) opened to all races in 1986, and the Chamber offered assistance to all local black businessmen the following year. An innovation was the offering of a secretarial service to all members in 1987 and at the AGM that year both the long serving Poddy Shein and Gerald Barnes were elected Honorary Members of the Chamber.
On the 18th January 1990 the title of the Chamber changed to the Kimberley Chamber of Commerce and Industry as the Kimberley Industrial Association had folded and joined the Chamber. Assocom changed their name to SACOB and the Chamber opened the Kimberley Commercial Exchange for the benefit of the members. The name change lasted less than a year as it became the Northern Cape Chamber of Business, thus giving the smaller towns in the vicinity of Kimberley the chance to join what was hoped would be a growing business association.
In 1992 Business Watch was introduced in order to assist businesses in combating crime, and is still going strong today as an essential part of the Chambers activities. The 1990s saw South Africa and Kimberley undergoing major political and socio-economic changes, all of which are recent enough to hopefully still be in a member’s memories. Suffice to say, Kimberley had their first democratically elected council with an African Mayor, David Monyamane, and the city had been proclaimed the capital of a new province, the Northern Cape. The changing times were (ands still are) exciting indeed.
However by 1997 there was a negative business perception of economic growth, an ongoing observation in the history of the Chamber and Kimberley over the last 120 years, and is something that Kimberley has never managed to shake off, despite the fact that the Chamber had close on 450 members – the highest membership ever.
Perhaps the best has been left to last as the amalgamation of the separate English and Afrikaans business associations meant that for the first time in Kimberley’s history the business world spoke with one single unified voice. The Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NOCCI) was launched in 2000 with great expectations for the future. The future, as we all know, is learning from yesterdays good and bad, and coupling it to todays hard work.
LONG SERVING PRESIDENTS
16 YEARS 1893-1908 WT ANDERSON
10 YEARS 1967-1972 HL (PODDY) SHEIN
7 YEARS 1885-1892 HFE PISTORIUS
4 YEARS 1932-1935 GM HUNTER
4 YEARS 1963-1967 D HENDERSON
Peach and Company Dr Matthews
Saber Brothers CH Hartley
Hill and Paddon George Bottomley
Ferguson and Hasel JJG Rhodes
Haarhoffs Compagnie Francaise des Mines de Diamante
EW Tarry and Co F Baring Gould
Chisholm and Company JC Rimer
Goldschmidt and Company George Goch
Hazell Ballan and Co Arthur Stead
W Anderson and Co DE Doveton
AA Rothschild John Birbeck
Anton J Petersen Peter W Scholtz
H Willegerod F de Pass
GH Hull Alphonse Levy
B Rintel Henry Tucker
JP Ablett JH Hartley
T Puzey Cecil J Rhodes
L Diering Moses Cornwall
T Crowder Julius Pam
S Neuman James Wilson
G Kilgour HB Wallis
London & SA Exploration R Hinricksen
JG Reid Joel Abrahams
RM Roberts B Hampsen
AG Biden Max Michaelis