Bonang Mohale becomes BLSA CEO: What does it mean?

Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) has appointed veteran business executive and activist Bonang Mohale as its new CEO in what can be seen as beefing up the organisation that has been on government’s case a lot in recent times.

The former Black Management Forum (BMF) President, Mohale, is set to assume the BLSA role from 1 July 2017. He replaces Thero Setiloane, whose term expired in December 2016.

The political background that Mohale brings to the BLSA makes the organisation a force to be reckoned with and most importantly not one which can just be dismissed as a front of the so-called white monopoly capital.

And the increasing blackness of the BLSA, with Jabu Mabuza as chairperson, complicates matters for the ruling party. The ANC likes to position the amenable Black Business Council as the authoritative voice of black business.

Mohale does come in with a promise to turn BLSA into a partner to government and not an enemy.

“I plan to reposition business as a trusted advisor, partner of choice and doing everything possible to make Government a capable state,” said Mohale.

He adds “In the next 12 months my focus will be to re-assert business as the solution and not the enemy because when business does well, society does well, help combat state capture, work with labour and government to get the economy out of this recession and going again, create jobs and accelerate transformation”

“All South Africans seek unity around positive aspirations. It will be very important for business to be introspective about its position in society to inspire agreement and provide duty of care, skill and diligence to our shared vision of a growing, inclusive economy,” Mohale.

Mohale also ends a term as Vice President Upstream and Chairman of Shell South Africa at the end of June. He has been serving as BLSA’s Deputy Chairman for the past eight months. He will vacate this non-executive role for the duration of his term as CEO. Adrian Enthoven, Chairman of Hollard Insurance, will assume the position of Deputy Chairman of BLSA.

“The board of BLSA are delighted that someone of Bonang Mohale’s calibre and immense leadership ability has agreed to steer the organisation through the most challenging environment the organisation has faced since 1994,” said Chairman Jabu Mabuza. “His depth of experience, integrity and courage makes him a great fit for the position.”

BLSA is an organisation of 80 CEOs of South Africa’s largest businesses and multinational companies. The BLSA statement said the organisation is committed to creating a South Africa of increasing prosperity for all by harnessing the resources and capabilities of business in partnership with Government, Labour and civil society to deliver inclusive economic growth, transformation and shared value.

Mohale said: “It will be an honour for me to marshal the resources and capabilities of business to create a South Africa that works for all.

Mohale, who originally studied to be a medical doctor, has had a distinguished career at the helm and in leadership roles of several major South African and multinational companies; including Otis Elevators, South African Airways, Sanlam, and Drake & Scull Integrated Facilities Management.

He currently serves on the Boards of Swiss Re Africa (12 years); Hollard Insurance (11 years); Rand Merchant Bank & Oakhurst Insurance (Chairman). Mohale has an impressive track record of both building successful companies and making significant advances in transformation in the companies he has been involved in. He has been a vocal and active proponent of transformation since the 1980s, and played a leadership role in the Black Management Forum for over 33 years.

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