Parsons holds fort as Busa fight hots up
STRENUOUS infighting in Business Unity SA (Busa) ended in a stalemate yesterday when deputy chief executive Raymond Parsons was named interim head of the organisation in an acting capacity, while the search goes on to find a candidate acceptable to the Black Management Forum (BMF).
Minutes of a recent Busa special management committee meeting were leaked to Business Report yesterday detailing the squabble between president Futhi Mtoba and the BMF over the appointment.
The minutes noted that Mtoba had requested vice-president Mthunzi Mdwaba – who was not present at the meeting – “to put together the job spec for the position”.
Mdwaba, who applied for the post of chief executive, then approached the chief executive to assist with information pertinent to the appointment procedure. BMF believes this is a conflict of interest.
The squabble began earlier this year after Mtoba was opposed as candidate for the presidency last year by BMF president Jimmy Manyi, who is now also a government spokesman.
He described Mtoba’s election – over Sandile Zungu, the founder of Zungu Investment Company – as “a blow against transformation” and a victory for “established business”.
Yesterday Manyi was emphatic that he would not comment on matters at Busa, but it was reported that he had stormed a recent meeting of its executive to complain about the procedure of appointment of the new chief executive to replace Jerry Vilakazi, who retired on Monday.
The minutes of the executive’s meeting – attended by Mtoba, chairman Andre Lamprecht, and vice-presidents Venete Klein and Brenda Madumise, Vilakazi, Parsons, finance chairman Cas Coovadia, Elize Strydom and Nomhle Nkumbi-Ndopu – reported much acrimonious discussion surrounding the position.
Nkumbi-Ndopu, the BMF chief executive, argued that the appointment process – by a “search” company called Heidrick and Struggles – was irregular. It is known that Ndwaba does not enjoy the support of the BMF. Nkumbi-Ndopu said the process should not be handled in such a way “as to raise a reputational risk for Busa”.
It was not appropriate, she said, that Mdwaba had written the job specs and then applied for the post. This participation by the candidate in the appointment process gave him an unfair advantage and raised questions of governance.
Mtoba was emphatic that “the relevant candidate”, Mdwaba, had recused himself timeously and that the chairman, Lamprecht, would “in any event not tolerate any conflict of interest”.
Vilakazi reported to the meeting that when the search companies were shortlisted, he was asked to check on their empowerment credentials and Heidrick and Struggles was found to be “fully compliant” and outperformed others.
The committee meeting, after Nkumbi-Ndopu’s interventions, decided that in the event that a candidate had not been appointed by May 31, Parsons should act “until a new appointee took over”.
That compromise decision was rubberstamped by Busa yesterday. It is expected that the new chief will be appointed in September.