Good governance means leading by example

2011-06-11 13:58

Business needs to apply the highest standard of governance, as it expects of other stakeholders, especially ­government.

It is customary for business to point fingers, especially at government, about all manner of faults it sees when it comes to running things to the ­“highest ethical standards”.

The current saga surrounding the ­appointment of a new chief executive for business advocacy group Busa throws this very question into the spotlight.

How do elected officials who have been tasked with the job of finding a CEO design the process, design the criteria, set a process in motion to search for a CEO and then suddenly make themselves available for the position?

While there may not be anything ­precluding people in leadership from ­making themselves available, there is a glaring conflict of interest and an ­inexcusable attempt to hijack an ­otherwise legitimate process.

This cannot be countenanced by any self-respecting membership. Our call as a black caucus within Busa for the process to be halted is therefore simple.

We are terribly disappointed that we were left with no choice but to call for a council in public after the ­Busa president reneged on doing so.

We will insist on this point if Busa is to live up to its founding principle to speak as a representative body of ­business, and not simply to speak as a voice of the few who happen to be in ­leadership positions.

There is a need in this whole issue to separate the views and approach of the black caucus with those of the Black Management Forum (BMF), an ­independent organisation that has every right to lobby for its member or its preferred candidate within the ­prescripts of the process.

We caution that this should be done in a manner that respects the interests of other organisations that may equally have rights to put forward candidates for consideration.

Certainly, we cannot allow any one organisation to dictate Busa’s ­programme and it makes sense that the BMF must act in concert with the black caucus.

It is our view that this matter must never be turned into personality ­clashes between leaders of the various business groupings.

The Busa leadership has a responsibility to keep business united. This goal cannot be subsumed by the desire to be “right”.

If this caucus’ voices are not heeded, Busa will clearly be fermenting disunity instead of building the united voice of business, which is its key mandate.

There have been sentiments for some time now that Busa is reluctant to ­embrace transformation.

We strongly believe that allowing the black caucus to lead on this matter, and giving the wave of discontent ­unleashed on this issue a decent hearing within the constitutional structure, will go a long way in at least allaying the fears that Busa does not care about the voice of black business.

The president of Busa has clarity of thought and we believe she must do the right thing – especially after agreeing initially that it only makes sense to call a special council meeting.

If the leadership is convinced about the correctness of their process, they will have nothing to fear in an open debate among members on this matter.

Finally, if we consider ourselves in any way custodians of the future, we have to lead by example on matters of ethical governance.

» Mathebula is the chairman of Busa’s black ­caucus. He writes in his personal capacity 

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