Mzabalazo Advisory Services consists of a team of development practitioners who have worked together over a number of years, have a common approach to their work and have a shared set of values.

The company has been formed on the basis of empowerment principles. Four of the members are Black (three of these African), and two White. Three of the members are women and three men.

The company has its Head Office in Johannesburg, where it employs a small but growing team of staff, and a small office in Cape Town run by one of the company members located there. The company has associates, and relationships with companies, located in most provinces and we are able to provide our services anywhere in South Africa.

The company has not set out to build a large infrastructure of employees and offices, but rather a small team of highly qualified and competent practitioners supported by a national network of associates, as well as associated companies. Mzabalazo Advisory Services can therefore mobilise, at short notice, a capable and fit-for-purpose team who are experienced in working together to agreed standards.

The composition of the team will vary according to the needs of a particular project or client. Where a project is very complex or large the company partners with other organisations with the relevant expertise, and who share our approach and values. Where we work regularly with another NGO or company we develop formal partnership agreements that enable jointly agreed planning, co-ordination and quality management. Where necessary this is in the form of a Joint Venture agreement. Mzabalazo Advisory Services manages the team, monitors implementation of agreed work plans and takes full responsibility for the quality of the work done for the client.

Sometimes the partner company takes lead responsibility and Mzabalazo accepts the same, reciprocal accountability arrangements. Generally this is done where the area of expertise falls more within the capabilities of one of our partners than ourselves – for example, projects requiring a large element of ICT or Finance expertise.

Names and brief CVs are included in the members and associates section of this site, and detail is provided in the projects section. References can be obtained on the competence of the individuals and the effectiveness of this model for achieving the desired outcomes. We believe that our approach is one that achieves high standards whilst at the same time keeps costs down by keeping overheads and peripheral expenses to a minimum. In this way we believe we provide high levels of competence, a wide range of skills, and can implement large and complex projects at a cost well below what would need to be charged by a large consulting firm.

A key feature of the way the company works is our developmental approach. Whilst in most projects there is a set of outputs that have to be achieved, and the company accepts responsibility for achieving them, we strongly advocate ownership and control within the client organisation. We recommend a partnership approach where our team work alongside the relevant management, with approach and methodology shared and skills transfer achieved. We believe strongly in not making the client dependant, but rather the client structures being stronger and more empowered on completion of the work than before the project. Our aim is to help build effective public service and civil society structures that are capable of delivering quality service and improving the lives of people.

Philosophy and approach

The company has established itself as a progressive, forward looking and innovative development consultancy. We work with government departments, government entities, and civil society organisations, and with private sector companies on developmental, transformational or empowerment projects. We strive to combine high level skills and quality work with a deep understanding of, and commitment to, the country’s transformation agenda.

We are committed to Broad Based Black Economic empowerment, by which we mean expanding access to increasing numbers of people, particularly those living in townships and rural areas or who are maginalised due to race, gender or disability. We strive to promote equity and redress in all that we do.

We are committed to assisting in building a developmental state that has the capacity to manage service delivery as well as impact positively on the economy and on the development of communities. When we work with a government department we engage critically with its purpose and function, and attempt to support the wider policy and strategy objectives that inform the work of the department.

It is our view that the state and government service delivery is secured and strengthened by a strong and vibrant civil society, including effective trade unions. We work in a manner that acknowledges, respects and supports that role.

We believe that after an intervention from our team an organisation and its management should have capacity to deliver that is at a higher level than before the intervention, and not become reliant on ongoing support from consultants. In all our work we aim to transfer knowledge and skills, and to assist management to identify and address organisational needs.

Our aim is to give excellent value for money. The rates we charge are set out in our proposals and explained so that the client can see clearly what is being offered and the level of expertise being proposed for different aspects of work. Our intention is to be transparent, so as to enable potential clients to make informed decisions. We strive to provide high quality work at a price that is reasonable and affordable. With us “what you see is what you get”, with no attempt to charge higher level fees for lower level work, or to provide less work than that outlined in a proposal or tender.

Our intention is to be highly competitive in relation to the qualifications, commitment, expertise and experience that our team brings to projects. We guarantee to deliver quality products and services, and always set out to provide additional value-add – that additional learning and capacity building that enables the organisations we work with to be stronger and more effective once we have completed our work.

Our approach to interventions is to always be properly informed, and so research and diagnostic work is an important aspect of our work. In our engagements with organisations we attempt to adhere to sound OD ethical practice (for example we may agree to interview on a confidential basis), use participative methodologies and adopt progressive approaches. We believe critical enquiry is the best approach to research, where there is a clear transformational purpose that is clear from the outset, and that the contradictions and vested interests are acknowledged and worked with. Transformation is not a simple or straightforward matter and requires a degree of engagement by the change agent.

Mzabalazo, its members, and associates are deeply committed to developing the capacity of our public services to improve the lives of the people. We believe we can achieve this best by developing long term relationships with clients. We attach a great deal of importance to developing relationships based on trust and a shared commitment to genuine and lasting transformation. We strive to conclude projects in a manner that enables all stakeholders to have confidence that the work done has been of value, and that in future there will be sound professional reasons for asking us to return to do work for them in the future.

The Mzabalazo Advisory Services members and associates want to work with other governments in the region. We believe strongly that the future of South Africa is inextricably tied to the future development of our neighbouring countries and other countries on the continent, particularly those emerging from periods of conflict. Many of our team have extensive experience of working in other African countries and have worked with a number of international donor organisations. We strive to develop and maintain those relationships and expand our engagement within the African continent.

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