'Black people are our own worst enemies'

Black South Africans were their own worst enemies regarding transformation, former Black Management Forum (BMF) president Lot Ndlovu said on Thursday.

“Black people switch quite quickly to materialism. Have you seen how eager they are standing next to their cars, posh homes, swimming pools — it’s quite crass,” Ndlovu told a BMF conference in Johannesburg.

He said many black executives had stopped focussing on transformation and were only interested in enriching themselves.

“The transformation process has floundered — and some black executives are not part of the programme. We, black people, are our own worst enemies,” said Ndlovu, who also lectured delegates on the importance of performing well in their jobs.

Ndlovu, the vice-chairperson of the Nedbank Group, said top black executives often did not criticise their companies’ lack of transformation.

“They evade the issue of the advancement of black people ... black people do this because of the sense of indebtedness to those who appointed them,” he said to applause.

Ndlovu called for a body to be established to recommend black executives for senior jobs in big companies to ensure that competent people were appointed.

“We need a selection panel to recommend the appointment of key people. We need a body that will look at openings and make recommendations. [Sometimes] people are appointed as CEOs over whom a big question mark hangs.

“We have to derive solutions that are indigenous,” added Ndlovu.

He said it was time for black executives to show leadership and prioritise transformation, adding that there was “unbelievable unfairness” in some black economic empowerment deals.

“It’s important to go to bed with a clear conscience and know that you are contributing to a better society.”

South African Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande said black executives could be recognised by their “BEE shoes”.

“The BEE shoes are very interesting; they are self explanatory. Because what they do, is they get narrower and narrower as you go along.

“There is even a story that when you are wearing the shoes and knocking on the door, you have to face this way [the other way] because otherwise the shoe will reach the door first, before you knock,” he said to loud laughter. - Sapa

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