The Black Management Forum (BMF) has threatened legal action to have the recent appointment of Denel group chief executive Daniel du Toit set aside if Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan does not play ball.
Lawyers representing the BMF have sent a letter of demand to Gordhan, requesting further information related to the appointment – failing which, they say, they will approach the courts.
Du Toit was appointed last month with the approval of Cabinet and is set to start his new job this month.
According to the letter, which City Press has seen, the organisation has expressed a number of concerns regarding the appointment, including a lack of gender parity at Denel.
Part of the lawyers’ letter reads: “We are instructed that the Employment Equity Act in particular makes it compulsory for organs of state like Denel to implement affirmative action measures in their workplace. In addition, our client notes the lack of gender parity in the appointment of Mr Du Toit.”
The letter goes on to detail a list of requested information. It also gives Gordhan the deadline of Thursday to respond or face legal action.
BMF spokesperson Philippe Bakahoukoutela confirmed that the organisation had instructed its lawyers to handle the matter.
He pointed out that his organisation’s main objective was for the government to provide justifiable reasons for appointing a white male to run a state-owned enterprise (SOE), when there were capable black professionals who could do the job.
“The BMF believes that there are capable black men and women – and, in particular, highly skilled youthful professionals aged 33 to 45 – who are capable of successfully running SOEs,” said Bakahoukoutela.
“These talented blacks require government support and the opportunity to prove their managerial and leadership skills. The BMF is the vanguard of transformation and will not sit by when transformation is regressing year after year, as confirmed in employment equity reports.
“The BMF believes that SOEs must be at the forefront of ensuring that capable black professionals are appointed to executive positions.
“We believe that the continued appointment of white males to run SOEs will do little for the transformation agenda.”
Bakahoukoutela further confirmed that, should the matter go to court, the BMF would seek to have the appointment set aside.
“We are tired of complaining year after year about the slow pace of transformation, and yet nothing happens. We will, among other things, request the court to set aside the appointment on the grounds of a failure to adhere to the country’s laws on transformation,” he said.
Questions emailed to Adrian Lackay, spokesperson for the department of public enterprises, were unanswered at the time of going to press.