BMF changes tune

2010-05-16 11:10

Public outrage over suggestions that Business Unity SA (Busa)

­president Futhi Mtoba was a ­transformation lightweight forced the Black

Management Forum (BMF) to eat humble pie on Friday.

Some leaders of the associations that are affiliated to Busa made

public comments about what they saw as an unwarranted personal ­attack on the

new Busa president.

The president-elect of the Businesswomen’s Association, Kunya- lala

Maphisa, said: “Questioning her appointment due to her ­association with

established ­business directly questions her ­integrity as a professional and a

business person. This suggests an inability to stand for what is right.

“Her appointment as Busa ­president should be celebrated and

commended as it is in line with ­government policy on gender ­equity and it

speaks to the urgent need for transformation in corporate South Africa.”

The president of the International Women’s Forum of South Africa,

Dr Namane Magau, said allegations that Mtoba would be a puppet of big business

had no substance.

“As much as she spends her time dealing with issues affecting big

business, she is also involved in ­areas where she has been ­developing other

women,” Magau said.

Hlengani Mathebula, the chairperson of the African Leadership Group

and the Black ­Business Executive Circle, said Mtoba’s critics were being

­malicious because the leadership positions she held in the past had proved she

was a champion of transformation.

“She won the Busa democratic elections fairly and everyone needs to

rally behind her. No one will ­benefit from making negative ­public remarks,”

Mathebula said.

The chief executive of Business Leadership SA, Michael Spicer, said

that ­Mtoba was more experienced than the alternative candidate, Sandile

­Zungu.

“There is no doubt that both ­candidates were of high quality, but

we needed someone who was very experienced and who will speak with one voice for

all the businesses,” Spicer said.

On Friday the BMF issued a statement backtracking on its ­comments

of three days earlier.

BMF president Jimmy Manyi said: “The BMF expresses regret at the

confusion following the ­statement intended to decry the Goliath approach by big

business in the Busa presidency race.

“It is unfortunate that a seasoned transformation agent like Futhi

Mtoba got caught in the ­crossfire,” he said.

Manyi said his aim had been to ­address the poor ­representation of

black structures in Busa, which was viewed as a handicap that would lead to the

­organisation rubber-stamping ­positions that did not benefit black

business.

The back-pedalling started when Manyi faced an internal revolt in

some of the BMF’s provincial structures for saying on ­Tuesday that Mtoba’s

appointment was against ­transformation.

Thando Mpulu, the chairperson of the BMF branch in Eastern Cape,

said that Manyi had expressed his personal view when he criticised Mtoba.

“It was never the position of the BMF to criticise Mtoba.

“It is good that the BMF has ­finally cleared the air, as the board

of directors had not agreed on criticising her,” Mpulu said.

BMF Mpumalanga chairperson Tlou Seete said: “It would not be fair

for black organisations to not support the appointment of a black person,

especially when she is skilled, competent and holds high professional

positions.”

He added that Mtoba was not elected on the basis of her skin

­colour but on her qualifications and her ability.

“We should celebrate her ­appointment because we are going to use

her as a gateway to unlock any transformation issues,” Seete said.


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