BMF going back to its roots

2012-10-13 09:16

New president talks about designing and resurrecting management programmes, and the development of managerial capacity

The Black Management Forum (BMF) is going back to its roots of training black managers, who are capable of leading the nation’s big corporations and state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

This is the game plan that new BMF president Bonang Mohale wants to implement, without abandoning the forum’s vocal stance against companies that refuse to elevate black managers to the upper echelons of South Africa’s corporate sector.

“We want to focus on our core business, which is a development of managerial capacity, primarily among black people.

“We are still going to be vocal on transformation, which is the reason for our existence,” said Mohale, whose full-time job is that of chairperson of Shell SA.

Mohale took over the reins at BMF last week from former government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi, who too has been, during his six-year stint as the forum’s president, a big critic of slow transformation.

“It is not a good sign that we still have SOEs that are languishing at level-six broad-based black economic empowerment status. Desirably, they should be at level-one,” said Mohale.

The 50-year-old hails from Katlehong in Ekurhuleni and is a chartered marketer with vast experience in oil and gas, aviation, insurance, and facilities management sectors.

He was one of the eight board members who recently resigned from South African Airways after falling out with Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba.

He did not want to discuss with City Press the airline or his reasons for quitting.

In his new post, Mohale wants BMF to design and resurrect management programmes that made some of its former and current members rise to senior positions in major companies.

In the past, the forum has sent its members for training to prestigious universities like Harvard, Stanford and Duke.

“The training happened in the past, but receded a bit. We need to resuscitate it over the next coming years,” Mohale said.

“It is abundantly clear that our challenges have less to do with money than it has to do with our ability to manage, especially scarce resources. South Africa will rise or fall on our ability to manage, plan, lead, coordinate and organise.”

Under Manyi’s presidency, the BMF was criticised for being too close to the governing ANC, especially after Manyi landed jobs in government, firstly as director-general in the labour department and later as head of the Government Communication and Information System.

But Mohale is quick to point out that the BMF is a non-racial, non-partisan and a political professional organisation.

“We are not a branch of the ANC, but we need to be close to the government,” he explained.

He also revealed that he was not interested in taking the chair of the forum’s investment subsidiary, BMF Investments (BMFI), which is still occupied by Manyi.

“The constitution of the BMF says that the president should also be the chairman of BMFI.

“I will agitate that we deploy as many of our people as possible. I cannot be looking for more things to do. I have enough work here at Shell SA,” Mohale said.

Asked if he would support Manyi if he wanted to keep the BMFI job, Mohale responded: “The board will decide.”

He said he would be able to juggle his BMF responsibilities and his demanding job at Shell SA.

“All BMF members have full-time jobs and there is not one member who works at the BMF, except our full-time staff.

“For 36 years this is what we have been doing. We don’t take unemployed people.”

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