BMF says appointment of Rob Shuter as MTN CEO a serious blow to transformation

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The Black Management Forum (BMF) on Wednesday said that it viewed the decision by MTN to appoint Rob Shuter as CEO of the company as a serious blow to transformation.

Vodafone’s CEO of the European cluster Shuter was named on Monday as the new CEO of MTN Group, Africa and Middle East’s biggest mobile phone operator. Shuter is also a former CEO of Vodafone Netherlands and ex-Vodacom chief financial officer.

The BMF said this appointment by MTN contributes to the steady decline in the number of black South Africans at the leadership helm in companies.

“The BMF’s position is informed by the clear reversal of black representation in Top JSE listed companies. There is a general unwillingness for transformation at top management level which has resulted in the decline in the number of black South African CEOs” BMF President Mncane Mthunzi said in a statement on Wednesday.

BMF was formed with the main purpose of influencing socio-economic transformation in our country, in pursuit of socio-economic justice, fairness and equity. BMF aims to do this through the development and empowerment of managerial leadership, primarily amongst black people, and the creation of managerial structures and processes that reflect the demographics, and values of the wider society.

“MTN may put forward reasons it argues to be valid for the appointment of its new CEO, however, the company would undoubtedly agree that it has squandered a good opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to transformation. Prior to this appointment, MTN had demonstrated exemplary leadership by successively having black CEOs”, Mthunzi added.

MTN is a proud export of South Africa across the African continent and beyond; hence its appointments are of high importance. The BMF holds the view that MTN’s failure to appoint a black CEO signals that transformation is not a business imperative, which is disappointing.

The organisation added that it is disheartening to note that these decisions are made by the Board of Directors with the majority of black people and under black chairmanship. The lack of thoughtfulness in dealing with matters of succession in these companies is appalling.

“The BMF will also engage with the Public Investment Corporation and other shareholders of reference on their expected role and moral obligation for the appointment of black CEOs and Executives in general. These companies are owned by the public and yet they don’t reflect the demographics of our society”, Mthunzi said.

The BMF has over the past 40 years kept Corporate South Africa’s transformation record in check by advocating for the appointment of black professionals to meaningful positions within companies. The Jack Hammer Executive Report which was released in late last year, reveals that the proportion of CEOs who are black South African has fallen from 15% in 2012 to 10% in 2015.

In January, the BMF notes with deep concern the reversal of transformation gains where black CEOs of major companies in our country were replaced by white candidates, such as FirstRand’s CEO Sizwe Nxasana’s replacement by Johan Burger and KPMG CEO Moses Kgosana’s replacement by Trevor Hoole; as an example.

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