Success And Failure

Dec. 21, 2004
Two black businessmen -- two different fates.

New investors in South Africa can make their contribution to transformation by helping blacks to take part in operations -- including the roles of executives and directors. Affirmative action at these high levels has both succeeded and failed. Two examples illustrate the point: Cyril Ramaphosa was African National Congress secretary general and leader of the National Mine Workers Union. Then Thabo Mbeki beat him in the election for deputy president. With this, Ramaphosa quit politics and is now the countrys most successful black businessman. He is on the board of so many companies, including South Africas largest conglomerate, Anglo American Corp. Ltd., that he may have to divest himself of some of them. Mzilikazi Khumalo, an ex-political prisoner with Mandela under apartheid, was appointed executive chairman of Johannesburg Consolidated Investment Co. Ltd. (JCI), a gold-producing company, after he led a group of black investors to buy JCI from Anglo American. His group bought the company for $600 million when gold was trading at nearly $375 an ounce. Like many others, he was caught unprepared for the fall in gold prices on world markets to $300 an ounce early this year. Many blame his lack of business experience. It showed up when he made an offer for a 70% share in a small British titanium-mining firm, of which he was a director, without telling his JCI colleagues. The JCI board withdrew his offer and accepted his resignation. -- James Bredin

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