Nafcoc chief booted out of office

2009-11-10 14:27

THE infighting at the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc) took a dramatic turn yesterday when its president, Buhle Mthethwa and her leadership were forced out of office.

A group led by businessman and African Co-operative for Hawkers & Informal Businesses president, Lawrence Mavundla overthrew Mthethwa and took control of Nafcoc House, the chamber’s headquarters in Johannesburg.

This was the first time a sitting president was deposed in the 45-year-old history of the black small business chamber.

Mthethwa and her office bearers returned from the weekend only to discover that the locks of chamber’s head office had been changed by the landlord.

Three hefty security guards, hired by Nafcoc’s investment arm Nafhold, stood at the entrance and blocked any unauthorized persons – including Mthethwa and those who deemed to be in her camp – from gaining entry.

Those in Mavundla’s camp and the media were allowed entry.

When City Press Business arrived at Nafcoc House, Mthethwa and her team stood outside the building and were forced to hold a press conference in the rain.

Mthethwa refused to field media questions, but instead diverted them to Jabu Khumalo, who has been Nafcoc treasurer-general.
Khumalo was at pains to explain that the Mavundla camp has taken over unconstitutionally.

He said they were consulting their lawyers to find a means to take back power and to prevent the Mavundla camp from using the Nafcoc logo.

President of Nafcoc Gauteng, Richard Sishuba, accused the members of the Mavundla camp of being criminals who took over by force.
Mthethwa’s faction even tried to resolve the matter by calling in the police.

However the police couldn’t do anything on their arrival after the Mavundla camp presented them with the copy of the lease agreement.

The Nafcoc House building is currently owned by Caresbee Investments on a lease-to-buy agreement, which means Nafcoc will assume ownership of the building after five years.

The lease is paid by Nafhold.

After the media briefing, the National Industrial Chamber president Sonyosi Sikhosana invited journalists inside the building.
Sonyosi is also the newly elected deputy-president of the Mavundla leadership.

In an interview, a jubilant Mavundla was trying to make himself comfortable in the office that used to be occupied by Mthethwa.
“Believe it or not we have taken over,” he said.

He said all provincial structures and sectors that were known to back Mthethwa would be dissolved.

All the provincial structures but Mpumalanga are known to have been backing Mthethwa. Nafcoc’s women and youth chamber are also in the firing line.

“We cannot have organizations with different opinions,” said Mavundla.

He added that a forensic investigation was going to be carried out and charges were going to be pressed with the law enforcement agencies.

“We are going to hand over all the documents to the police and they will decide whether they want to pursue criminal or civil investigations against the Mthethwa leadership,” he said.

This was after Mavundla showed City Press Business that Mthethwa earned R85?666 a month as Nafcoc president and Sishuba pocketed R10?000 a month as a consultant.

Mavundla said the Nafcoc Constitution did not allow the president and office bearers to earn a salary from the organisation.
“Neither the council nor the executive committee members may receive payments for their positions but shall receive remuneration for services rendered to Nafcoc,” read the constitution.

Mavundla said the part of the constitution which read “but shall receive remuneration for services rendered” only meant that the office bearers could claim back the money they spent on the travel cost and accommodation costs which were linked to Nafcoc activities.

In what could be seen as offering an olive branch to Mthethwa, Mavundla said he would consider awarding Mthethwa some sort of an exit package.

“But I won’t initiate the talks. My hands are now full as I have this big chamber to run. If she wants to talk to me, she must initiate everything,” he said.

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