Yvonne Zwane, Ithala chief executive, who died over the weekend after an illness

Johannesburg - Yvonne Zwane, the chief executive of Ithala Development Finance Corporation, died at the weekend after battling with illness.

Zwane joined Ithala in November 2011 and has been instrumental in driving the group’s turnaround strategy which has seen the institution receiving many accolades, including clean audit outcomes over three successive years.

The KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, on Monday sent his condolences to Zwane's family, friends and colleagues,

Ithala is one of KZN's primary drivers of economic development and a strategic enabler of support for, in particular, this province's historically disadvantaged communities.

Before joining Ithala in 2011, Zwane had worked for the First National Bank Public Sector Banking where she held the position of chief executive, providing strategic direction for the sector in that organisation.

Zikalala said in a statement that Zwane was a strategic thinker with a passion for development and clean governance, saying that she had selflessly served South Africa with distinction throughout her life and corporate career.

"I had the privilege of working with Ms Zwane during her tenure as Group CEO. I have always appreciated and will forever be grateful for the support I have received from her in support of my current role as the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs," Zikalala said. 

"Her leadership and devotion to efficient corporate governance will surely be missed."

Ithala's deputy manager for Marketing, Thuli Galelekile, and public relations manager Krisha Allers, were both not immediately available for comment about succession plan as they were locked in meetings.

Zikalala said under Zwane’s leadership, Ithala had been upgraded into a state-of-the-art facility to accommodate customer needs. 

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He said Zwane died at the time when they were all hard at work to ensure that Ithala received a full banking license which would enable the institution to compete with all other banks, including managing government accounts. 

The first phase of the banking license application was submitted to the South African Reserve Bank in November 2016 and every effort was being made towards obtaining a full banking license.