Newly elected Business Unity SA president Futhi Mtoba, has called the controversy around her appointment earlier this week “unfortunate”.
“We need to make the front page news for what we have achieved, how we have contributed to economic growth in this country and what we are doing to stamp out corruption or how we are role-modelling transformation,” she told the Mail & Guardian.
Her comments followed harsh criticism by the Black Management Forum (BMF) of her selection as head of the umbrella business association.
The BMF called it “a blow against transformation and the unity process in the South African business community”.
Tembakazi Mnyaka, the BMF’s deputy president, said in a statement on Tuesday that established business and its allies “had won the day against the progressive forces and this makes a mockery of the unity process”.
Support from across the board
But those close to the election process told the M&G that votes from across both established white business and what can be seen as emergent black business were cast in Mtoba’s favour.
She ran against BMF backed businessman Sandile Zungu — who was reportedly seen as having greater entrepreneurial skills and stronger links to government.
One source argued that Manyi’s hard line campaign for Zungu eventually became a liability.
The source panned the notion that a BUSA head should have links to government, arguing that he or she should be independent of the state.
“The notion that you need to be licensed by government is not what you want and quickly leads down the road to having government appoint these types of leadership positions,” he said.
The Easter Cape arm of the BMF reportedly broke ranks with its parent body calling Mtoba’s appointment as the first women president of BUSA a symbol of transformation.
The Association for the Advancement for Black Accountants (ABASA) also supported Mtoba’s appointment.
On taking up the job Mtoba said she was committed to unifying the body and voice of business in South Africa.
She said she would also continue to support meaningful participation within Nedlac, emphasising the positive role business could have here as an agent for change.
She also promised to continue the drive for transformation, as well as to combat corruption.
“Anti-corruption starts with us and— until we take personal responsibility for stamping out this devastating practice, we have no hope as a country,” she said.
“Corruption is not something that happens at government level. Corruption happens in our own organisations often where we least expect it. If business was not prepared to engage in corrupt practices — bribes, fraud, price fixing — the cycle would be broken and we would stand a much higher chance of rooting it out completely.”