Nafcoc’s infighting heads for high court again

Wiseman Khuzwayo

The mutually destructive faction fighting among the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (Nafcoc) membership is heading for the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday, where one faction that claims to have deposed the other faction last month will be making its case for recognition.

In the same month, a faction led by Lawrence Mavundla went to court to stop the other faction, led by Joe Hlongwane, from taking office.

Early this month, another tussle broke out, with Nafcoc accusing Nafhold of siphoning off R158 million from its bank account and depositing it into a French bank in 2009.

Mavundla’s deputy, Sinyosi Skhosana, said this month that Hlongwane wanted to reclaim a leadership position because questions were being raised about the money.

Skhosana said the R158m was part of the money that Nafcoc constituencies had generated through the sale of shares in Nafhold.

Early this month, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu outbid Hlongwane at an ANC gala dinner for a portrait of former president Nelson Mandela wearing a black suit, white shirt and a red tie against a background of six rondavels.

The ANC offered to commission a similar portrait for Hlongwane for his R3.5m bid.

Hlongwane, a Nafcoc veteran and former president of the chamber, was elected the president by his faction. He is also the founder and chairman of Nafhold, the investment arm of Nafcoc, which for a long time was the chamber’s cash cow until the two entities fell out with each other.

The court held that the resolutions adopted at the elective meeting had no effect.

Fighting over leadership and Nafhold’s finances is not a new phenomenon in the black business chamber’s history.

In 2011, Nafhold divested its shares worth R1.2 billion in Tsogo Investments. Instead of giving the money to Nafcoc, Nafhold distributed about R500m to constituency trusts and R250m to members who qualified.

Mavundla toppled Buhle Mthethwa in a palace coup in 2009 after she had led a march of Nafcoc’s members to Nafhold’s offices to protest about the allocation of shares.

Mavundla was for some time on the good side of Hlongwane and Michael Leaf, the chief executive of Nafhold, until Mavundla spent R10m within eight months. This was allocated to Nafcoc by Nafhold reportedly to purchase luxury cars for members of the national executive and some provincial office bearers.

Nafcoc tends to hog the headlines for the wrong reasons. In 2011, it was revealed that Mavundla used a R720 000 loan for an ancestral feast at the expense of wages for the chamber’s workers.

The feast was at Mavundla’s home in Richards Bay, in KwaZulu-Natal, in 2009.

In an acknowledgement of debt, Mavundla admitted using R67 200 on catering, R40 800 to hire a venue and R12 000 on invitations and stationery for the event.