Black workers protest Denel appointment of a white male CEO

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The Liberated Metalworkers Union of South Africa (Limusa) on Monday rejected the appointment of Daniel du Toit as the group chief executive of State-owned arms manufacturer, Denel, saying that the minister of public enterprises must implement employment equity recommendations.

The department of public enterprises last month announced Du Toit as the new group chief executive after Cabinet approved the appointment. He is expected to assume duty on January 14, 2019.

This comes after Zwelakhe Ntshepe resigned with immediate effect as Denel chief executive in May after 20 years at the company, citing personal reasons, and was replaced with Michael Kgobe, the chief executive of subsidiary Denel Aeronautics, in an acting capacity.

Siboniso Mdletshe, Limusa general-secretary, said they found it “disgusting and very irresponsible” for a state-owned entity like Denel to ignore the findings of the Hoefyster Employment Equity Compliance Assessment (HEECA) report and to employ a white male as the group chief executive.

Denel Land Systems’ report on employment equity compliance status pointed out areas where the company needed to improve in relation to the appointment and promotion of black South Africans.

“One of the recommendations in the HEECA report, which we fully support, is that Denel must immediately stop the appointment and employment of white males in important positions,” Mdletshe said.

“That recommendation was based on the finding that Denel [seems] to be overlooking other races when it comes to employment in strategic positions and we as Limusa raised this complaint with Denel in 2017 as we saw black professionals, in particular, being overlooked in favour of white and Indian males.”

Mdletshe said they had learnt Black Management Forum was legally challenging Denel on the appointment of Du Toit. Black Management Forum was not immediately available for comment.

Mdletshe said: “We have always been consistent in that we are against this unlawful behaviour of dividing workers racially by Denel and therefore, as Limusa, we are going to support any action that [seeks] to challenge the employment equity injustices that happens in Denel. We reject the appointment of Daniel du Toit as Denel Group CEO when there are many black professionals qualified for this position.

“We call on the minister in the department of public enterprises, Pravin Gordan, to provide necessary leadership in ensuring that the recommendations of the HEECA report are implemented as Denel promised four months back. We further call on the parliament to look at this matter closely and enforce Denel to comply with the Equity Act.”

During the announcement, Denel board chairperson Monhla Hlahla said Du Toit brought with him a wealth of experience in the defence and manufacturing sectors and a solid career track record that would be of value to the Denel group.

Hlahla said Du Toit would be able to build on the turnaround strategy for the troubled defence company and will be critical in strengthening the executive management capacity of the company.