Johannesburg - On Monday the Black Management Forum (BMF) made good its threat, withdrawing from Business Unity South Africa (Busa) with the intention of reorganising “black business” outside Busa.
This will probably spell the end of unity in the organised business sector which took shape with the establishment of Busa in 2003 – which was always only a pretence of unity, according to a statement issued by the BMF on Monday.
The BMF president is controversial Jimmy Manyi
, the Cabinet spokesperson.
In recent weeks he has butted heads with Busa’s leadership about the manner in which Busa’s new chief executive should be appointed.
In a short statement Busa reacted to the BMF’s withdrawal, saying it was to be regretted.
Busa remained hopeful for discussions with the BMF, which would be high on the agenda of its next management meeting.
In the coming weeks a lot will depend on whether the other black business organisations in Busa follow the BMF’s example.
Some of them, like the Black Lawyers Association and the Association of Black Investment Professionals, are soulmates of the BMF and will probably also leave.
These organisations were previously members of the Black Business Council, which dissolved when Busa was established. Within Busa they are today known as the Black Business Caucus, but will probably now set up a similar organisation of their own outside Busa, a source inside one of the established business organisations with membership of Busa told Sake24.
Another source within BMF said that a frustration with Busa was that the voice of the established, mainly white, business sector was the only one articulated by Busa.
The other organisations, especially black business organisations, become reduced to, at most, a minority report or even nothing at all, said the source.
He pointed out that the labour sector in Nedlac sometimes had a Cosatu nuance, sometimes a Nactu nuance and at other times a Fedusa nuance, but Busa always had the same nuance: that of the established, white business sector.
The BMF source said that it was not necessarily a race issue. There are, for instance, many small business people in industrial areas that are also dissatisfied with the way they are represented at Busa. Many are white.
One of the main problems with the representation of the “black” organisations is that their members consist of individuals – something seen practically nowhere else in the world in business organisations.
Individuals cannot be members of business organisations – members must be companies or other business organisations with companies as members.
On April 8 the BMF’s general manager, Nomhle Nkumbi-Ndopu, in a letter to Busa leaked to Sake24 last month, threatened take this step. The threat was related to the search for a new Busa chief executive. The BMF had insisted that the “black caucus” within Busa should have the sole right to nominate candidates for the position.
But in its statement on Monday the BMF said the dispute regarding Busa’s new chief executive had merely been the last straw to break the camel's back.
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