In the dynamic landscape of business, companies must have robust governance structures in place to navigate challenges effectively. The recent Deloitte Africa Restructuring Survey sheds light on the significant impact of weak board governance as a primary internal factor triggering distress in companies.

According to Jo Mitchell-Marais, Africa Turnaround & Restructuring Leader for Deloitte Africa, a key solution lies in developing skilled and qualified directors who can proactively identify distress signals and take timely corrective actions. In this article, we will explore ways in which a board of directors can identify distress signals and promptly address them, thereby enhancing corporate resilience and sustainability.

Identifying Distress Signals:

1. Financial Metrics: Boards should regularly review financial statements, key performance indicators, and cash flow forecasts to identify early signs of financial distress such as declining revenues, shrinking margins, increasing debt levels, and cash flow challenges.

2. Operational Performance: Monitoring operational metrics and performance indicators can help boards spot operational inefficiencies, declining market share, or production issues that could indicate underlying distress.

3. Stakeholder Relationships: Boards should pay attention to changing relationships with key stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, and creditors. Deteriorating relationships or increased complaints could signal underlying problems.

4. Regulatory Compliance: Compliance with laws and regulations is essential. Boards must ensure that the company is meeting its legal obligations to avoid potential legal or regulatory issues that could lead to distress.

Addressing Distress Signals:

1. Establish Crisis Management Protocols: Boards should have clear protocols in place to address distress situations promptly. This may include forming a crisis management team, defining roles and responsibilities, and developing a communication plan.

2. Seek Expert Advice: Boards should not hesitate to seek advice from professionals such as turnaround specialists, legal advisors, or financial consultants when facing distress signals. These experts can provide valuable insights and guidance on navigating challenging situations.

3. Implement Restructuring Plans: Once distress signals have been identified, boards should work proactively to develop and implement restructuring plans. This may involve cost-cutting measures, renegotiating contracts, refinancing debt, or exploring strategic partnerships or acquisitions.

4. Enhance Board Skills and Expertise: Investing in director education and training can significantly strengthen the board’s ability to identify distress signals and respond effectively. Boards should prioritize continuous learning and development to ensure they have the necessary skills to navigate complex challenges.

In conclusion, strong board governance is essential for mitigating distress in companies. By proactively identifying distress signals and taking timely corrective actions, boards can enhance corporate resilience and safeguard the interests of stakeholders. Developing skilled and qualified directors, as suggested by Jo Mitchell-Marais, is a critical step toward improving board effectiveness. By fostering a culture of vigilance, adaptability, and continuous improvement, boards can steer companies through turbulent times and toward sustainable growth and success.

Rasiluma TD Attorneys Inc. offers comprehensive corporate governance services to all business entities operating in South Africa and abroad. Our experienced team of legal professionals specializes in providing tailored solutions to enhance board governance and regulatory compliance. 

Contact us for more information on our corporate law services at:

T: 011593 -3130

M: 0783257188



Let us partner with you to strengthen your governance practices and navigate the complexities of the business landscape with confidence and compliance.


1.L. Fraser (2024), 22 April. “Businesses in South Africa are struggling with the ‘new normal”. Business Tech. Available at: (accessed on 04 May 2024).

2. Deloitte News (2024), 18 April. “Deloitte Africa Restructuring Survey 2024: Businesses need stronger governance and financial controls”. Deloitte Website. Available at: (accessed on 04 May 2024).

3. Companies Act 71 of 2008. Available at: (accessed on 04 May 2024).

4. King IV Report on Corporate Governance for South Africa 2016. Available at: (accessed on 04 May 2024).

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