Newly elected president of the Black Management Forum (BMF) Andile Nomlala is adamant that there was nothing untoward about the organisation’s membership saga that preceded his election.
This despite allegations in a membership audit report that some corporate sponsors paid for memberships.
Speaking exclusively to City Press three days after being elected uncontested at a conference in Gallagher Estate, Nomlala dismissed the controversy that preceded his election as mere “political mischief”.
The controversy followed a report that indicated that a number of major corporates paid sponsorship monies but it seemed, from the responses of some of the corporates that City Press spoke to, that some of the monies were used to pay for individual memberships, resulting in the Western Cape membership figures being much higher ahead of the conference.
Nomlala said the companies, which include Vodacom, Vunani Fund Managers, Airports Company SA and PwC Africa, that told City Press the monies they paid were for sponsorships, and did not include memberships, were mistaken, as membership was included and the companies even supplied lists of the members paid for.
“In fact, all the corporates mentioned not a single one of them was starting to pay membership for the first time. If the companies were paying for sponsorship, there wouldn’t be a need for them to send us their staff members’ names.
“Once they send us their staff members’ names, it means they are also paying for memberships,” he said, adding that all the companies that claimed to not have paid for individual memberships had previously.
He said BMF, under his leadership in the Western Cape, struck a deal with some corporates that those who paid sponsorships would get a certain number of memberships as a value add-on in its membership drive.
“We explained to the companies that if they paid for a table for the event, we would credit them with a certain number of members, and that is something that is common,” Nomlala said.
The controversial report was even a bone of contention at the annual general meeting that elected Nomlala into the presidency.
He said he has managed to grow the Western Cape branch’s membership to bypass that of Gauteng over the last two years and he is the first BMF president who is not based in Gauteng.
He confirmed that the Gauteng branch of the BMF walked out and he was nominated by six of the 9 provinces.
Gauteng had backed their own candidate, Nicholas Maweni, and North West did not meet a threshold to vote, while Mpumalanga did not nominate at all.
“They [BMF Gauteng] did raise the issue of the report but the electoral committee of BMF clarified the report,” he said.