The manager of corporate funding at the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Development and Alumni Department (DAD), Khaya Jack, placed first in his division in the 2023 Presidential Golf Challenge. In addition to raising funds for a worthy cause, Jack’s participation in the event presented an excellent opportunity for engaging decision-makers in the public and private sectors.
The annual Presidential Golf Challenge took place on the Friday following the delivery of the State of the Nation Address to the joint sitting of parliament by the head of state. This year, players teed off at Atlantic Beach Links & Golf Club on Friday, 10 February, in support of the Adopt-a-School Foundation.
The event, which focuses on mobilising financial and technical support for charities nominated by the sitting president, provides an opportunity for decision-makers in the public and private sectors to engage one another around strategies for addressing various challenges in South African society.
This year, the challenge was aimed at championing dignity for learners by furthering the Department of Basic Education’s Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) initiative. In line with this, funds raised for the event were allocated to the construction of ablution facilities in schools.
Following the golf day, the Adopt-a-School Foundation – a partner of the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation that aims to support the delivery on enhanced and conducive teaching environments – will implement sanitation projects at Lower Ndakana Primary School in Nqamakwe, Eastern Cape; as well as Mbokota Primary School in Mbokota, Limpopo, through its community-based infrastructure model.
The completion of the projects, which commenced in August 2022, will see a ventilated improved pit ablution facility constructed at Lower Ndakana and a flushing system installed at Mbokota Primary School.
In addition to bettering the lives of school children, the projects have created 18 on-site job opportunities at Lower Ndakana Primary School and 14 at Mbokota Primary School.
More than just fun and games
The 2023 Presidential Golf Challenge saw a field of 250 players from the public and private sector come together not only to raise funds for the Adopt-a-School Foundation, but also to raise awareness about the critical challenges faced in their sectors.
Jack, who has been playing for about 20 years, placed first in his division on the day. An avid golfer, he describes his introduction to the sport as entirely accidental.
“I got into golf by accident. Any sport with a bat and ball – that was my arena. I played cricket and hockey, and a bit of tennis – that’s where I was in my element. Then, one day a couple of my friends were participating in a corporate golf day and they were short one person for their four ball, so they invited me to join them. I’ve been hooked ever since,” he recalled.
According to Jack, whose role focuses on raising funds in support of UCT’s academic programmes and other initiatives, golf presents an invaluable networking and relationship-building opportunity.
“For me, more than anything else, playing golf is an excellent tool within my field of work because my role involves a lot of relationship building. Many of the people who I engage with are golf players and relationships with those individuals can be built on the golf course. So, it makes a lot of sense for me to be in the space where those people are and operate in,” he explained.
“When I get an invitation to a day like this, I look at who else will be in attendance, which areas of work they’re in and figure out who I’d like to engage with from there. As much as it’s a great golf day, there is a lot of work involved.
“So, it’s not just about going out and enjoying myself, but it’s also about making sure that my participation brings a benefit for the university. I always try to slot myself in with the four-ball that has the individuals I’d like to build relationships with. I see it as a strategic networking session, which really adds to the day,” said Jack.
One of the highlights of playing in the Presidential Golf Challenge is, of course, the chance to engage directly with the president.
“It’s extremely rare that you get to have even a few minutes with the president. Unfortunately, he’s only on the course for about 30 minutes, but that gives you an incredible opportunity to pitch your initiative to him. Although, you have to be clever in terms of how you do that pitch because you only have a few minutes to communicate everything,” said Jack.
A swinging success
High on Jack’s agenda with President Ramaphosa was framing some of the greater funding challenges faced by institutions of higher education in general and UCT in particular.
“I was able to connect with the president directly and, through that interaction, I was able to speak to him about the work I do at UCT. That opened the door for me to share with him some of the challenges we face in the higher education space in terms of student funding as well as accommodation funding within the universities,” he said.
“So, he is aware of the struggles and challenges within the university space as far as student funding is concerned. What came out of that interaction was that the president was able to link me directly to the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Dr Blade Nzimande as he believes we could take up the discussion around these issues.”
While involvement in these events brings immense benefits, there is plenty of work that needs to be put in before and after a day on the course.
The fundraising manager also noted that he was able to interact with a variety of individuals within the corporate sphere with a view to establishing ongoing relationships between their businesses and UCT.
“There were a number of big corporates that participated, and I was able to engage with them around a number of areas of interest for the university. I was pleasantly surprised that there were quite a lot of executive directors within the corporate social investment space this year. I was introduced to a number of individuals who we can potentially work with,” he said.
Ramaphosa officiated the challenge by teeing off alongside 19-year-old rising golf star Jimmy Takalani Musandiwa from Louis Trichardt, Limpopo, who plays off a seven handicap. Musandiwa placed fifth in the A Division.
Jack, who plays off a four handicap, shot a 76 on the 18-hole 72 par Atlantic Beach Links to finish first in the B Division.