The appointment of Jason Quinn as the CEO-designate of Nedbank has resulted in the now routine chorus of dismay from the transformation sentinels whenever a black person is not appointed to a top position (The Mercury, November 29; Business Report, November 27).
Black Management Forum president Sibongile Vilakazi claims that by appointing Quinn, Nedbank has pursued “ineffective succession planning” and that it has “missed an opportunity for victory for the transformation agenda’ (Business Report). As such, she clearly prioritises ideology above objectivity.
Siyabonga Hadebe, a regular Mercury columnist, asserts that Quinn’s appointment “has sparked a heated debate” and that Nedbank has overlooked two highly eligible black candidates, Ciko Thomas and Mfundo Nkuhlu. For Hadebe, the appointment of a white man by the predominantly black Nedbank Board somehow “perpetuates inequality.”
What neither of these transformation proponents takes into account is that the decision to appoint Jason Quinn was a collective one of the Nedbank Board, the majority of whose members are black. According to Nedbank chairman Daniel Mminele, the decision-making process was rigorous and disciplined, guided by well-defined criteria and facilitated by a reputable international research firm (Biznews, November 29).
By refusing to be influenced by the transformation chorus, the Nedbank Board exhibited courage in upholding merit as the only criterion that should determine appointments. Yet columnists like Vilakazi and Hadebe continue to beat the tired drum of demographic inequality. What they fail to recognise is that demographics have no place in the hierarchy of competence.
The irony of the mindsets of the Vilakazis and Hadebes is that they apply the criterion of merit when their lives may be at risk should they have to undergo surgery or embark on air travel.