The three Busa frontrunners

2011-06-18 15:08

Three clear frontrunners have emerged for the hotly contested chief executive position of business advocacy group Busa.

City Press has been informed by a reliable source close to the selection process that the following three businesspeople are heading the race to succeed former chief executive Jerry Vilakazi:

» Busa vice-president Mthunzi Mdwaba;

» Newly appointed SABC board member Cawekazi Mahlati; and

» Attorney and former legal adviser at the Amabubesi Group, Kunyalala Maphisa.

A total of 22 candidates have applied for the job.

Mdwaba is an investor who made his fortunes in the IT industry, Mahlati is a qualified advocate, while Maphisa is the president of advocacy group Businesswomen’s Association.

Mpho Makwana, who was recently removed as chairperson of state-owned power utility Eskom, was approached to consider applying for the position, but he declined.

This was confirmed by Michael Spicer, the chief executive of Business Leadership SA and one of the four Busa vice-presidents who are part of the seven-member panel tasked with head-hunting the new chief executive.

Spicer said: “Someone did approach Makwana, but he said he is not interested in the job.”

He declined to divulge who approached Makwana, but said the process of finding Vilakazi’s successor would be finalised by the end of next month.

Cas Coovadia, another Busa vice-president, declined to comment on whether Mdwaba, Mahlati and Maphisa were frontrunners.

“All I can say is that there is a recruitment process under way where we are being assisted by a recruitment agency.

“I am not going to be irresponsible by discussing the names of the candidates in public,” Coovadia said.

Maphisa confirmed that she applied for the Busa top job after receiving a nomination from two organisations which are members of Busa.

She declined to name the organisations, but said she had the backing of the Businesswomen’s Association.

She said that although she was currently running her own business, she would quit if she clinched the Busa job and let her partners run the business.

“The Busa position is exciting, quite heavy and I am aware that I can’t do anything outside of Busa if I were to get the job,” she said.

According to records from the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, some of her directorships include North West Women Investment Company, Musicians and Artists Assistance Programme of South Africa, the SA Health Tourism Congress and Colliers RMS.

City Press was unable to reach Mahlati, who used to be chief executive of Bop TV, for comment.

President Jacob Zuma confirmed her appointment to the SABC board last week.

Mdwaba said he had not heard any news from Busa about the job.

“I am still in Geneva and I can’t respond to your questions until Busa informs me formally about the shortlisting,” he said.

Mdwaba has been caught in controversy since the Black Management Forum (BMF) opposed his candidacy after it alleged that he had penned the specifications for the job.

The BMF said he should withdraw from the race as his alleged involvement in the drafting of the specifications amounted to a conflict of interest since he was a Busa vice-president.

Hlengani Mathebula, the chairperson of the Black Business Executive Circle lobby group, said on Friday that Busa should impose a “cooling-off period” for the organisation’s office bearers who want to take up executive roles, hinting at a lack of support for Mdwaba.

“I am not interested in who is eventually appointed by Busa, but as a matter of principle, I think there must be a cooling-off period for elected office bearers,” he said.

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