The board of the Black Management Forum (BMF) has suspended its President, Dr Sibongile Vilakazi, amid Wits Business School (WBS) moonlighting allegations last year until her name is cleared to protect the organisation’s integrity and reputation.
Lilly Moabi, the organisation’s Deputy President, had assumed the role of Acting President during this interim period, the organisation said.
In a letter to its BMF members, shared with Business Report, it said, “With a deep sense of responsibility for the legacy and reputation of our organisation, we share the news of the suspension of our President, Dr Sibongile Vilakazi.
“This decision, made with careful consideration, is rooted in our commitment to upholding the values and code of conduct of the BMF. Dr. Vilakazi's suspension is pending a fair and impartial hearing, scheduled to conclude by the end of March. This process aligns with our dedication to transparency and due process,” it added.
Last month in an open letter, Vilakazi addressed the moonlighting allegations, saying, “The Wits Business School (WBS) moonlighting matter took place six years ago. I was dismissed for taking on additional work that might have impeded my scholarly responsibilities without the knowledge of the university.
“The nature of academia is such that academics are encouraged to take on additional work that enhances their scholarly responsibilities. It’s common cause that most academics are engaged in all manner of activities that they get paid for. The requirement is a discloser of all the activities.
“The WBS policy outlines how the disclosers should be undertaken. Under the policy, moonlighting is supposed to be disclosed upfront. I accept this; however, I do not accept the manner in which the matter was dealt with at a time. There were many nuances that suggested that the intention was to dismiss me rather than encourage discipline in the school,” Vilakazi said in the letter.
Philippa Larkin, the acting editor of Business Report (BR), South Africa’s largest daily business paper, which carriers Vilakazi’s TREADS OF TRANSFORMATION column, said on Friday, “Sibongile Vilakazi has shared the news of her suspension with BR. Until the BMF’s hearing to clear her name is concluded, Vilikazi is stepping down as a representative of BMF in BR.”
Larkin added that last year amid the media frenzy around Dr Vilakazi, BR had decided to continue with the BMF President’s column until the organisation had provided clarity on the matter. But now that it suspended her, Vilakazi’s column would not appear in the business print title until further notice.
“Vilakazi has provided well thought out insights on transformation to share with BR’s readers and the nation, often working late on a Saturday night to do so due to her vast work commitments. BR thanks Vilakazi for her contribution as a columnist,” Larkin said, adding that BR was in touch with the BMF and it would keep its readers updated on any new developments.
In another executive team change, the BMF said it was “delighted” to introduce its newly appointed managing director, Monde Ndlovu, who was a familiar face in the organisation and brought a wealth of experience to the organisation.
"In the spirit of inclusivity, we are forging ahead with the completion of outstanding national Annual General Meetings (AGMs) and initiating provincial AGMs for the current financial year. We encourage all members to actively participate in these sessions, where crucial discussions regarding the future of the organization will take place. The outstanding national AGM is set to unfold in April, and you can anticipate receiving notices in due course,“ the organisation said.
BMF said it had full confidence in Ndlovu’s ability to navigate it through the upcoming AGM and anticipated his effective collaboration with the Acting President in shaping a robust plan of action for the current year,.
“As we collectively navigate the challenges and opportunities that the coming months may bring, let us anchor ourselves to the core values of the BMF. May this year be one of progress and unity, where the principles of transformation remain steadfast at the forefront of all our endeavours,” it said.
BMF further said the road ahead held great potential for significant strides and positive change and it was enthusiastic about the opportunities that awaited it.
Who is the BMF:
– The Black Management Forum (BMF) is a non-political, non-racial and non-sexist organisation focusing on the development of managerial leadership and the creation of managerial structures that are reflective of the demographics and values of the broader South African society.
– The BMF has been advocating for the socio-economic transformation of our country for 48 years through the pursuit of justice, fairness, and equity.