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Bongani Mdakane | 5th February 2024

Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi has set a target for mining firms to have 50% of their top brass being people of colour in the next five years, as part of the new sectoral numeral targets published this week.

Nxesi said of the 50% top management targets, 29.9% must at least be males, and 20.1% female.  

Over the same period, the minister also wants at least 40% of top managers in the financial services sector to be black people. The financial services sector and the  mining sector are the backbone of South Africa’s economy, employing thousands of people.

The six largest banks employed about 180 000 people, while the mining sector commands  a workforce of more than 400 000 employees.

The banking sector has over the past decade made strides in promoting black people to executive positions.

Africa’s largest bank by assets, Standard Bank, is headed by Sim Tshabalala while Investec is run by Fani Titi. The country’s biggest banking group by market value, FirstRand, recently appointed Alexandra-born Mary Vilakazi as its next chief executive officer.

Standard Bank’s asset management unit Stanlib is headed by Derrick Msibi while its rival Coronation is headed by Anton Pillay.

Coronation, which has about R630-billion assets under management, has 42% of these assets managed by black investment professionals.

While progress has been made, the Banking Association South Africa in its latest annual report acknowledged that the sector is still lagging in terms of getting more black people to management positions.

According to the organisation’s Transformation in Banking report, in 2021 banks were ahead of ownership targets, at 32% black owned against a target of 25%; and are increasing empowerment financing year-on-year, to R279-billion in 2021.

“However, they are still falling short on management control targets – to various degrees. Nevertheless, year-on-year, the percentage of black managers is increasing across all categories.

“The strong junior and middle management pipelines make it inevitable that the top and senior management of banks will better reflect the demographics of South Africa – if not as fast as is desired,” the annual report reads.

“The improvement in reaching Financial Sector Code targets every year, shows the sustainable commitment of banks – in hard numbers – to the transformation of the industry and the economy.”

Major mining entities Kumba, Exxaro, and Thungela are run by black businesswomen. Mpumi Zikalala heads Kumba Iron Ore as its CEO, while Nombasa Tsengwa is the CEO of Exarro.

For the past 24 years since 2 000, empowerment deals in the mining sector exceeded R300-billion, while the country’s empowerment laws have facilitated the creation of companies such as Exxaro Resources, Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Minerals, Seriti Resources, Thungela Resources, United Manganese of  Kalahari, Tshipi é Ntle Manganese Mining, Kalagadi Manganese, among others.

The Black Business Council chief executive officer, Kganki Matabane, said: “This year, South Africa is celebrating 30 years of democracy and 26 years of the Employment Equity Act and what we hear is talk and plans. We need more implementation and less talk. Whatever the minister says will never happen if it is not in the legislation. The department does not even have capacity to monitor the implementation of its own legislation. As such, we are not convinced that anything will actually happen.”

Black Management Forum managing director Monde Ndlovu said his organisation has always believed in setting targets for transformation, and that a self-regulatory approach will not yield the desired outcome.

“The BMF has also believed in negotiated targets, encouraging a clear commitment to change for an organisation whose thought process has been old order and minimalist. These targets for organisations from our view should have been achieved already.

“Through our own analysis in 1993, we set corporate targets at senior management to be 30% for black people by the year 2000.

“We are now in 2024 and corporate leadership has not fully embraced the spirit and mind for transformation, we are now living in an era of transformation fatigue.

“Black women targets should be higher because they face a twin evil, that is, being black and also being a woman,” said Ndlovu.

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


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