Black forum’s MDs use position as launch pad to lucrative offers

2010-09-11 16:47

The managing director’s ­position at the Black Management Forum (BMF) has earned the reputation of ­being a hot seat – or a springboard into the corporate landscape.

After last month’s resignation of BMF managing ­director Gaba Tabane, the ­forum will soon be hiring its sixth managing director in nine years.

BMF past president Lot Ndlovu, who also served as the forum’s managing director from 1991 to 1994, says four to five years is a reasonable period for an individual to serve as a managing director or chief executive.

“If individuals stay in this position for such a short period, this could suggest there are special circumstances within the organisation that make them want to leave quickly,” says Ndlovu.

He says he has not been closely involved with the BMF’s operations for a while and does not know the real reasons for the procession to the departures lounge by the organisation’s managing ­directors.

In some instances, he says, people who occupy top management positions for short periods are beneficiaries of head-hunting, with other firms dangling better remuneration packages.

“It has become a case of supply and demand, and in this instance you would find that companies are willing to pay top-level managers good salaries and offer them better positions because there is a shortage of supply.”

Ndlovu points out the danger of managing directors and chief executives leaving after only occupying their positions for brief periods.

“Leaving early means that a person would not have had a chance to reasonably affect the organisation.”

Ndlovu says the employer has a duty to make the working environment conducive and supportive.

The BMF started the decade on a transformation high by appointing Nolitha Fakude as its managing director in 2001.

Two years later, she vacated the position and went on to become the forum’s first ­female president between 2004 and 2006.

She has been an executive director at Sasol since 2005.

Jerry Vilakazi took over from Fakude as the BMF managing director in December 2003.

He jumped ship 24 months later to take up a position as the chief executive of Business Unity SA, a job he still holds.

This saw Nelly Mosiane ­being called in to fill Vilakazi’s shoes at the BMF from February 2006.
Hers was the shortest reign. She left three months later, due to health reasons.

Mncane Mthunzi took over in June 2006, leaving last year to become chief executive of the Consumer Goods Council SA, an association of ­retailers. The BMF recruited Tabane a month later.

Tabane, who has tendered his resignation, is serving ­notice and will leave the ­forum for greener pastures at the end of the month.

Four independent sources who spoke to City Press said both Tabane and Mthunzi had left because relations ­between them and BMF president Jimmy Manyi had ­become strained.

Mthunzi laughed off the claims. “My initial plan was to be at the BMF and implement a three-year plan,” he said.

“I told the board a year ­earlier that I wanted to leave the organisation because of ­career prospects.”
In a media statement, Tabane said he was taking on another job.

“I’ve had a wonderful stint as the managing director but have to unfortunately move on to another assignment,” Tabane said.

“I have come to accept that all good things come to an end and cannot ignore the career opportunity available to me now,” he said.

Manyi said he would not ­respond to comments from faceless people.

However, he said it was ­unfortunate that some of the former managing directors had left the organisation ­prematurely.

“The BMF is a breeding ground for top talent,” Manyi said as a parting shot.

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