Bonang Mohale | My boss Jabu Mabuza – a great teacher and a good person

Jabu Mabuza has left an indelible mark in the hearts of South Africa that it is our destiny to clearly build a free, democratic, united, anti-racist and anti-sexist South Africa, writes Bonang Mohale.


“We dream of a nation with people who are empowered, independent, selfless, competent, free from corruption and with high moral and ethical values.” – Rev. Moshwabada ‘Castro’ Mayatula (1921-1989), revolutionary and mentor of the youth, June 16, 1976

Dr. Jabulane Albert Mabuza is my boss!

We had convinced him and he finally agreed to be the only face of big business as President of Business Unity SA (Busa) and CEO Initiative as well as Chairman of Business Leadership SA (BLSA). He, in turn, later convinced me personally to come out of my early “re-retirement” at the age of 55 and help become BLSA CEO, an organization that was founded in 1960, even before I was born!

When it was founded, BLSA had two main purposes, namely the defense of apartheid and the eradication of sanctions. We were both absolutely convinced that it was a perfect candidate for Transformation rather than Reformation and I agreed to pick up the stick and start eating this monster inside out from Monday 3rd July 2017.

With his inimitable leadership, his unique determination and a strong board of directors, we quickly put together an effective and efficient team of two African women and three African men on November 1st of the same year.

A year later this team would develop into three African women and two African men. Against fierce opposition and at great personal risk, we laid the foundation stone to eradicate and defeat the conquest of the state, beginning with the planned, focused and relentless pursuit and the ultimate demise of Bell Pottinger in just six months.

He reluctantly agreed to be included in the five names that BLSA submitted to the National Treasury for consideration by the Eskom Board of Directors. In January 2018, he became chairman of the real patriotic board determined to end the melting pot of state capture – South Africa’s only systemic risk.

We initially suspended KPMG, Eskom, Transnet and Bain & Co, in that order, to aid the state arrest. Because of his determination, dedication and will to succeed, and being sufficiently convinced of the new strategy, systems and processes that Eskom’s board of directors and executives had put in place under the direction of Baba Phakamani Hadebe, it was the very first company to lifted his suspension.

Among other things, he founded FABCOS, was chairman of Telkom SA, Casino Association of South Africa, Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, South African Tourism, UNISA SBL, the Sun International Boards, etc.

He was a member and patron of the South Africa Day Initiative – Citizens in Partnership with Government “CPG”. He was a board member of Tanzania Breweries and Castle Brewing Company in Kenya.

He recently retired as a board member of the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) in Washington DC and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) in England – UK as a board member.

He was appointed to the Concordia Leadership Council, USA. He is also chairman of the Regional Business Council for World Economic Forum (WEF). The University of the Witwatersrand, under the direction of Prof. Adam Habib, awarded him an Honoris Causa on July 5, 2017 in recognition of his outstanding achievements in entrepreneurship and his contribution to the growth of the South African economy ”.

Together with the Busa board member Dr. Sipho Mila Pityana, seriously considering becoming president of the organization, and he eventually agreed.

I will be forever grateful to you for being such a great teacher, amazing and good person! Thank you for touching my life in such a meaningful and impactful way. To teach me and many others that we are doomed to further despair while waiting for someone else to fix things.

To teach me that our goal must be to do something, no matter how small it is … it is the sum of the parts that creates a larger whole. That we all have to take some aspect of what the government is failing to do and just do it, and so that we can embark on the path to real black economic empowerment and ultimate emancipation.

Thank you also for being a testimony that the building of our South African nation, having witnessed both the economic struggles of our ancestors and the birth pangs of a new nation, is truly of great value because it expresses a fundamental truth our national life!

Throughout our history and structure, one can trace a golden chord of exclusion, oppression, submission, and fabricated disagreement endured by a racist, prejudiced, and unsympathetic National Party government.

The Liberation Mothers and Fathers successfully instilled their qualities and views on subsequent generations – an influence later sustained through your personal participation in the student uprisings of June 16, 1976 – for which you were later expelled – and the United Democratic Front – women , deepened and expanded, and men who, when the great struggle for liberation came, made such a remarkable contribution to this lifelong struggle for both political and economic liberation. Each of them, essentially an offshoot of the same stones in our shoes, scars on our backs, tied to national ideals and traits and deep, inherent bonds of common kinship – and exposed to the evils that nation has been through always has been inheritance. A nation that over the years must preserve the original qualities of spirit and person that come from a common African ancestor – a type that still stubbornly clings to their topsoil in Africa.

Thank you for making an indelible mark on our hearts that it is our destiny to clearly build a free, democratic, united, anti-racist and anti-sexist South Africa. Indeed, we are united today on the many big questions. It is actually only the few and small things that still separate us from one another to some extent.

Thank you for calling for an end to the quarrels between compatriots, compatriots and brothers – as a means of accelerating among South Africans a recognition of our common national bond – a bond deeply rooted in African soil that embodies the obligations of a common community. Indeed, it is true that “the strongest people take time to help others even when they are grappling with their own problems”.

Our heartfelt and sincere condolences and condolences go to his dear wife Sis’ Siphiwe, her children, her family, the Mabuza clan and their friends, who have suffered such a great loss but who have lived such a beautiful life.

Hamba bald Mshengu nkos’yam!

Bonang Mohale is Chancellor of the University of the Free State, Professor of Practice at the College of Business and Economics at Johannesburg Business School (JBS), Chairman of The Bidvest Group Limited and SBV Services. He is the former president of the BMF and author of the bestseller “Lift As You Rise”.


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