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Sunday World | 22 January 2023


When Kganki Matabane took over as Black Business Council (BBC) chief executive in December 2017, it was “broken”, and he believes he has rebuilt its credibility over the past four years.

“BBC was broken, including owing money to suppliers and employees. However, I stabilised the BBC,” Matabane told Sunday World during an interview.

“When I joined the BBC, no one wanted to touch it either in government, in business or among prospective sponsors. It was risky because the BBC did not have money. When I joined, and during the first three months, I did not get a salary,” he added.

“I rebuilt the BBC’s credibility. We are now involved in all major decision-making in the country. For example, we get consulted before the state of the nation or a cabinet reshuffle. We get consulted before companies appoint chief executives,” Matabane said.

When he agreed to take on the role of BBC CEO, he wanted to make a broader contribution.

He added that the BBC aimed to put economic transformation at the centre of local debate. However, Matabane said the state had neglected black economic empowerment (BEE).

“Government only started to take it seriously again last year when we had a summit and invited the president,” he added.

“The private sector is not taking transformation seriously because if the government is not taking it seriously, neither will the private sector.”

He added that the last time the government took BEE seriously was when Thabo Mbeki was president.

“If you look at the black millionaires and billionaires; over 90% were created during Thabo Mbeki’s time. Unfortunately, those people are getting old and retiring. The challenge is to create new ones,” Matabane said.

He added the private sector engaged in BEE box-ticking exercises.

“They are doing it for compliance rather than in the spirit that in South Africa, we have a certain history, and that needs rectification,” Matabane said.

He said black people only owned a small fraction of the economy.

“If you look at the government’s employment equity report, chief executives of JSE companies almost 70% were white males. Something is not right. In South Africa, if you cannot empower the majority, that is a threat to democracy,” Matabane said.

He said his leadership style allowed people to try things and make mistakes.

“I try not to be harsh. Instead, I am patient with people when they make mistakes. In that way, people become loyal,” he added.

Matabane said he had worked with several BBC presidents.

“I have learnt to adapt to different characters and styles. I have needed to be diverse in my thinking and flexible while respecting different people,” he added.

He pointed out that everyone needed mentors who could tell them the truth and help them avoid blind spots.

“You should not surround yourself with ‘yes’ men or women,” he added.

Matabane has also worked for Business Unity SA, the Black Management Forum, City Power, Transnet and Anglo American Platinum. He started his career as an assistant teacher.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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