Ster-Kinekor’s Contribution To A DISHONEST B.E.E Member In Their Regional Managers Team
Back in 2004 they appointed one Mr. Mustafa Sleem, an Arab from Saudi Arabia as a complex manager for the super complex of Cresta in Johannesburg. One of the amazing fundamental facts here is that Mr. Sleem, can hardly speak English fluently & he also find it difficult to understand English in all ways. His spelling is atrocious & he had absolutely no training in running a normal business in the South African way & means. (Real e-mail evidence & photo’s evidence is available on request)
Soon after this appointment the standards at this particular outlet started to drop drastically, this as more & more customer complaints are coming in. Staff members at this particular cinema also lost all morale & it has become a total struggle for them to communicate with him, yet alone to work with him in his team.
Mustafa also came with an attitude of with him being the senior complex manager, he is not required to be at his complex every day, & also never over weekends. He also hardly interact with customers, as he knows & understands that he find it difficult to communicate with them. This is a full requirement from all complex managers to do in their normal line of duty, but in this case Mustafa seems to be exempt from this. How on earth could the Ster-Kinekor head office tolerate this, but they must have turned a blind eye towards all this, as they had bigger plans for Mustafa.
Several months have passed, all in which this cinema at Cresta kept on deteriorating & in which all more & more staff are leaving due to unhappiness & also for being treated unfairly.
Then all off a sudden in December 2005 the big announcement was made & Mustafa Sleem was promoted to become a regional general manager, taking care of the following cinema’s:
· Key West (Krugersdorp)
· Carnival City
· Rosebank Nouveau
· Rosebank The Zone
· Carlton Centre
· Savanah Mall (Polokwane)
· Velskoen Drive In
This was a truly amazing revelation, & something that totally caught everyone by surprise. There was other much more qualified candidates, people with a great record & that has built other cinema’s into big profitable business’. What could the “qualifications” of Mustafa then be, to, under the hectic circumstances that Cresta at that stage was, could be promoted to this huge responsibility? Talks went around & it was so blatantly clear that this promotion was not based on merit & qualification, but clearly on B.E.E status & employment equity. Imagine how wonderful it sounds on the Primedia board, to note that there is an Arab in their senior top management.
With this promotion, Mustafa’s attitude & overall image has changed drastically & he quickly adopt the attitude that he is “the best thing that has ever happened to Ster-Kinekor”, & the fellow top managers also treated him as such, which even gave him so much more of a attitude.
Well with him taking control of the above mentioned complexes he put new measurements in place “to control costs” & he also got rid of managers whom could not understand him at all, & they were “performance managed”. Other managers that reported to him, was just too scared to stand up to him, & they have just pretend to understand what he means. Once again, as part of a regional managers responsibilities is to frequently visit the complexes that is falling under him, but Mustafa did not wish to do so, & he only visits the close-by complexes, like Cresta & Northgate. He hardly ever visits Rustenburg, Potchefstroom, Savanah Mall etc.
During this period Ster-Kinekor launched the new Self Service Terminals, or “S.S.T’s”, which is the new way of buying an admission ticket electronically by operating a device situated in the cinema foyers. By using this S.S.T, the public do not pay by cash, but you are required to swipe your debit / credit card. Obviously by launching these machines Ster-Kinekor want to make sure that it is a new service it offers it customers, & they want to implement the use of this as the norm.
Well, due to the lack of Mustafa understanding the English language & the lack of him understanding the way that business’ here in South Africa operate, Mustafa made it a rule at his complexes that 50% or more of all daily ticket buyers MUST use this new facility. (To get to this 50%, you divide the total quantity of people buying at this S.S.T’s, & you divide it through the total quantity of people visiting the cinema over a predefined period.) He also told himself that this will be the quickest way that he can prove himself as a Regional General Manager. He went as far as threatening the managers that he has got left in his region with “performance management”, & ultimate dismissals if they do not comply to HIS will on delivering this 50% or more on the S.S.T attendance. He enforced this to all his managers, & he also threaten them so much that they lost total control of everything except the focus on pushing up these S.S.T percentages.
Now, as a bit of background information, on the S.S.T’s, as this is a facility that is running via bank servers & other I.T connections there is a service fee that all banks is charging on these transactions. The ticket prices are also at all the junction cinema’s only R 16-00, if you are a non member, of the Discovery club, & if you are an member then the tickets cost you only R 7-00. What Mustafa once again did not understand is that customers do not want to put such small amounts through on their debit / credit cards, as the service fees is in some cases bigger that the actual cost of the ticket. The stress that was in his region was unbearable, as all managers were just focusing on getting to this ridiculous target of 50% on the S.S.T’s. It was so much so that a whole lot of things happened at all his cinema’s. Some of the highlights here is, at Savannah Mall the maintenance of the actual cinema, seats, ceilings, curtains & even the actual projection maintenance stay left behind & it also deteriorates at such a tremendous rate, that people started to stay away. This was also the case in Potchefstroom, Rustenburg, Carlton Centre, Carnival City, Key West, Westgate etc. If his managers consulting him about serious maintenance issues, they were just brushed off, as this was not at all important for Mustafa, his importance was only with the S.S.T ranking. The pressure became more & more as Mustafa’s threats still had no end in sight, & eventually in one meeting his words was “You have to achieve this target, no matter what!”.
Some of his managers have at this stage started to be totally dishonest, they CLOSED their box-offices & refused to take cash from the public, & they forced the public to pay with their cards on the S.S.T’s. They only opened the actual box-offices for a period of 1 to 2 hours per day, & even in some instances not at all, there after they only helped people with cards. This created a whole unhappiness amongst customers, & customers literally stayed away from the movies, & those that were desperate just had no choice but to forcefully use the S.S.T’s. In the far away places this worked, as the public was seeing it as to much trouble to look up the head offices numbers to complain, but here in the bigger Johannesburg area, customers was complaining in droves about this & this could not be done.
This dishonest practice quickly resulted that complexes located in Potchefstroom, Savanah Mall, Rustenburg & Carlton Centre, reach percentages in ranking way ahead of any other complex. The fact that customers just stayed away from the cinema’s, due to them being forced to use their bank cards, also contributed to this high S.S.T ranking results. But due to Mustafa’s lack of understanding of the business operate, this did not mind him, he only looked at the “high scores” of those above mentioned complexes. In return all senior managers that Mustafa again report to, the C.E.O & C.O.O included, as well as other regional managers, just congratulate him on these awesome achievements. In some instances some of the complexes even reached between 80% to 100% of people using the S.S.T’s, which was due to their managers, & Mustafa being totally dishonest. It become so vicious that if Mustafa walks down the passages at head office, that everyone just congratulate him, he even just made walks, just to get other colleagues to do the congratulations effect. Everyone wanted to know what is his “secret”, but due to all the threats that he have made to his managers, no one tells or said a word. Soon everyone talked about how good Mustafa once again is, in achieving these results. BUT LITTLE DID ANYONE ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON, & HOW BAD THE SERVICE IS AT THESE COMPLEXES THAT CLOSED THEIR BOX-OFFICES. Not only was this an dishonest practice, but it also constitutes false advertising in the fact that tickets did not cost the advertised price, but the service fees gets added. Mustafa became so greedy on achieving these results, that the complexes in Johannesburg that could not make these results, was once again “performance managed”. More & more the perception with all top management was that “Mustafa is just the most wonderful thing that ever happened to Ster-Kinekor”.
Mustafa then became the “man of the moment”, & everyone consulted him to rewrite existing policies & procedures. He was seen as the god of the S.S.T’s….
Still during all this time, the actual “look & feel” of the cinema’s in his command deteriorated, & the attendances dropped like a rock, all round, but still Mustafa was the S.S.T hero. Cinema’s that needed urgent repairs & maintenance, was Key West, Cresta, Potchefstroom, Rustenburg, Savannah Mall etc, but this was not at all any priority for Mustafa Sleem. He only focused on the accolades & “well dones” that he expected every day. Due to all the bribery, threats & corruption that was going on in Mustafa’s region, some of his managers was starting to blackmail him, in the sense that they take unapproved leave, do not arrived for work for weeks, take money from cinema’s floats for personal use, they do not bank all monies at night, & the list of corruptions & non compliances became more & more by the day. They threatened him then that if he do something to them, that they will talk & tell that he is aware of this dishonesty & tolerated it for months. As this could mean the end of Mustafa, he turned a “blind eye” towards all these things.
The complaints from customers about service levels, closing of the box-offices, cinema’s that is falling apart became so serious, (ref. http://www.hellopeter.com/ ), only in his region, that head office became to suspect something.
Eventually around May the bomb exploded & all truth came out about what was really happening in Mustafa’s region. The C.E.O & Mustafa had huge differences & then it was requested that Mustafa tendered his resignation with immediate effect. This was partly to make space for the niece of the C.E.O, as well as to get this useless person out of the way. This was a very bitter matter for Mustafa, & 702 now understands that Mustafa is now suing the C.E.O with the best lawyers in Johannesburg.
This was truly such a great adventure to write & compile these facts from real archives that was found on the net, & that was obtained from previous, current & ex-managers, staff & ex colleagues working with him.