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5 questions: BMF President on why business needs transformation and more black professionals

Dec 09 2018 14:56
Tehillah Niselow

Andile Nomlala is the founder of Glenheim SMME Impact Investment Fund - a private equity firm that focuses on investing in SMMEs, and Deposit4U - a rental financing company. He was elected as the President of the Black Management Forum in October 2018. 

Nomlala rose through the ranks of the BMF, having joined the Student Chapter in 2002 and is one of the founding members of the BMF Young Professionals Forum. He also chaired the BMF Chapter in the Western Cape until being elected president.

Fin24 sat down with him to discuss his plans for the organisation and transformation of the business environment. The interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Fin24: Are you stepping into big shoes with the likes of (former Sasol executive) Bonang Mohale and (SAA deputy chairperson) Nolitha Fakude previously in your position?

Andile Nomlala (AN): I think both past presidents you mention have prepared me for the task. They have been the sounding board for many of us in the BMF for many years now. I also spend time consulting with them on many issues related to our mandate as the BMF. The BMF is one organisation where its stalwarts are still very involved in advising and honing our leadership skills.

So yes, it is big shoes that I am stepping into, but I feel adequately equipped to handle the task. I have meritoriously worked my way through the BMF ranks and I was well developed by the organisation.

Fin24: What does the BMF need to do to become a prestigious organisation again?

AN: The BMF should strive to directly affect professionals’ lives, more especially black professionals. We must challenge salary disparities in companies in which men earn more than women and the unsatisfactory representation of black female professionals who continue to be overlooked for senior executive positions, especially those in the private sector.  

We must stand on the side of black professionals when they are being victimised in companies. We must also directly challenge appointments that are made in companies that overlook black professionals, especially for senior management roles.  

Fin24: Data from the Department of Labour shows the number of black senior executives has fallen in the last 10 years. How will you address BEE and transformation?

AN: South Africa is a law abiding society, if we find the rules inadequate we must change them but they have not been thoroughly implemented yet to determine that. The BMF will set up a litigation fund and go through all the relevant laws pertaining to transformation and redress, if we find any loopholes that allow for non-compliance and fronting, we will lobby government to change the laws.

If the political will is not there, we will go to court. Redress and transformation find expression in the constitution, therefore it must be something we cannot shy away from. Companies that abide by the law are not incentivised and those who don’t are not adequately punished. We therefore need to level the playing field for both parties to ensure overall compliance.

Fin24: Are there any other strategies you believe should be implemented to speed up transformation?

AN: We could also give higher tax rates to companies that aren’t BEE compliant. Shareholders should feel the pain. Executives who don’t achieve transformation should not be awarded bonuses.

We will also tackle companies who make external executive appointments and overlook internal black talent. At the moment, the law allows this. This must be changed.

Transformation means diversity, which leads to greater innovation, giving companies the competitive advantage.

Fin24: Controversial former media boss Mzwanele Manyi was president of the BMF between 2006 and 2012. What is the organisation’s stance on his links to the Guptas and accusations against him at the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture by acting CEO of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) Phumla Williams?

You can’t fault Manyi’s first term as BMF president. He fought many successful transformation battles. I advised him to testify at the Zondo Commission and he said he’d already planned to go [and] clear his name. He’s still following due process. However, we can’t be seen to be promoting good governance and in the same breath be defending him.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

*This article was updated on Monday December 10, at 07:30 due to errors in the editing process. 

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bmf  |  transformation
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