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MG.CO.ZA / 13 JULY 2021 - 15.44 / MONDE NDLOVU

Every organisation of consequence has in its history key moments that were shaped and influenced by individuals. During July and August, the black business community celebrates the lives and contributions of two men, the “Black Management Forum Twins” who had an enormous impact on the economy and people.

Don Mkhwanazi and Lot Ndlovu earned “The BMF Twins” moniker from a speech that was delivered in Durban a few years ago by former BMF deputy-president Cecilia Khuzwayo when she described their contribution to the organisation and, indeed, the country. She argued that these two had left an indelible mark through their twin characters, their thinking and views on the future. They were always adequately prepared for meetings, causing leaders and members to think deeply about the direction and influence of the BMF.

PHOTO - Don Mkhwanazi.

As an aside, it would be remiss not to acknowledge that their ascension to leadership in the BMF was because of positive support by the late Sebolelo Mohajane, who thrust them to lead and encouraged them to drive the organisation’s agenda forward. The BMF has always had powerful women whose contribution is seen through others!

Two sides of the same coin

Affectionately known as “Bra Don” and “Bra Lot”, together they took the organisation to task in the mid to late 1980s and argued that it needed to respond to the sociopolitical environment, because the BMF, by its very existence, was a creation of that same environment. They persuaded the organisation to take a clear stand against the apartheid state and begin an onslaught against corporate racism. With their peers they articulated political views under the cloak of corporate colours, mesmerising business with their unwavering thoughts and convictions.

The South African business and leadership landscape had created fertile conditions for the advent of black resistance through black lobby groups. This resistance was a deliberate attempt to drive economic transformation so that economic freedom plus political freedom would equate to total liberation. Along with Dr Reuel Khoza, they were inspired by the leadership of Frederick Douglass and how black thinkers in the United States responded to suppression.

In the words of Khoza: “Lot Ndlovu is St Paul of the BMF cause and Black Economic Empowerment, and Don Mkhwanazi is St Peter of the BMF cause and Black Economic Empowerment.” This statement, of biblical proportions, sums up the esteem in which they were held for their significant contribution made to South Africa. In 1994, under the leadership of Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu, the men received special awards from the BMF for their outstanding role in the pursuit of economic transformation. President Cyril Ramaphosa, posthumously, awarded them the Order of the Baobab in Silver, for their role in economic transformation in South Africa. The twins, therefore, are official South African icons.

Twinned Events

Even in their passing, they remain together on the BMF yearly calendar. In July the organisation hosts the annual Don Mkhwanazi Lecture and in August it hosts the Annual Lot Ndlovu Lecture.

As we have entered this season of remembrance, we must reflect on their legacy and contribution, and carve out our collective purpose for this time.

It is therefore incumbent on us to ask, what would The Twins say about the state of transformation today? What would they do in response to the growing trust deficit between the government and the people? What would they say about the dearth of leadership in the country?


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

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