Stop the madness

September, being Heritage Month, has a heightened consciousness of the legacy we are building for our country and the next generations. Despite their growing numbers as an educated workforce, African people continue to hold a small proportion of leadership and powerful roles in business. Many are toothless lacking authority, regardless of their titles, to make decisions to truly transform the status quo. Truth be told, numerous occupy those positions for compliance reasons pacified with lucrative pay cheques.

Eighteen years on, there are categories that still bear on the quality of African people’s lives. In my case, African and female. One can choose to be ingenuous and pretend that this is not reality. Solidarity’s opposition to Woolworth’s policy of representivity based on the country’s racial demographics thrusts the truth into the spotlight making it impossible to ignore. Were it not for being specifically sought out because I am an African female, mostly for compliance motives, I would suffer worse than I do now under these less than affirming circumstances. I still feel like as a foreigner in the country of my birth. It is highly naive to think we live in an environment where sheer merit is sufficient to gain fair opportunities. Individuals who think that way usually gleefully focus on the perverted examples of tokens that are deliberately appointed whether as professionals, ‘shareholders’, board members or service providers to lend their colour or connections rather than their competence and skills in order to demonstrate the evils of Employment Equity or BEE. There are many untold cases that are far from such sabotaging practices.

I matriculated from one of the best private schools on the continent, Wykenham Collegiate. I received my degrees from University of Natal, Durban. I gained my MBA from the GIBS which is amongst the top 50 business schools worldwide with respectable results. Yet with all the outstanding institutions that have contributed to developing my competence and expertise combined with my passion and professional work ethic, my opportunities have only been possible through legislative intervention. I founded Busara Leadership Partners in 2009. I have deliberately steered away from being a tenderpreneur so as to develop and consolidate a credible value proposition for my company that will thrive in a BBBEE-less South Africa and anyway in the world. Only one client has been a white male, not out of choice, who approached our firm because of the value he believed we will bring to the strategic problem with no colour attached to it. The rest of the business is through referrals by committed fellow Africans to other African managers and entrepreneurs who appreciate that our stability and success as a country rests on the viability of a large pool of entrepreneurs and the recognition that black business owners are more likely to hire black professionals and managers than white business owners, unless compelled by law to do so.

Fellow South Africans and Solidarity. We need to transform our mind-sets and value system around changing the distorted racial make-up and accept that the majority of people in South Africa are indigenous Africans that must be proportionately represented as far as possible in business and whose value must go beyond compliance. We will regret the South African Spring eighteen years from now, if not sooner. It will be led by African professionals and the skilled, but side-lined masses, not the predicted blue-collar workers, who would be gatvol and have come to realise that lucrative paycheques, being forced to being tenderpreneurs and living like beggars in the country of their birth because they do not get the breaks and that sacrifices have been one-sided is not the democracy they are willing to prop up. Let’s not undo our bloodless miracle!

 

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