Johannesburg - The troubled 58-year-old National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc) is embroiled in a bitter legal battle over the powerful position of president.
The organisation’s former president Sabelo Macingwane, who is also the erstwhile Chief Executive Officer of the business chamber, is in court to reverse his axing in 2019.
His replacement, Gilbert Mosena and Nafcoc, obtained a South Gauteng High Court interim interdict restraining and prohibiting Macingwane from proclaiming himself as the organisation’s president.
Macingwane is also barred from issuing statements to the media, engaging or negotiating with third parties purportedly as Nafcoc president or in any other capacity.
Acting Judge Shaida Mahomed on April 19 ruled that the interim interdict will operate pending the finalisation of Macingwane’s appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) or any further challenge at the Constitutional Court.
Macingwane was ousted in July 2019 after Nafcoc members at a federal council gathering passed a motion of no confidence in his leadership.
However, Macingwane maintains that the meeting in which he was axed from Nafcoc could not have been called by anyone other than himself in terms of the organisation’s constitution.
Nafcoc has complained that Macingwane’s continued reference to himself as its president creates confusion, dissension and distrust among its members, business partners, associates and affiliates.
Macingwane previously challenged his ousting in the South Gauteng High Court in an urgent application, which was dismissed with costs in February 2020.
He wanted to have Mosena and other federal council members held in contempt of court, and the meeting at which he was fired set aside, as well as, that the decisions taken were invalid and of no force and effect.
Acting Judge Mahomed found that Macingwane had been called upon on two occasions to refrain from continuing to pose as Nafcoc president, but he rejected the demands and remains defiant.
The judge said strife and distrust serve only to derail Nafcoc.
”I am also persuaded that Nafcoc has no other remedy as an interim measure, given that the respondent (Macingwane) has outright rejected its demands that he desist from posing as its president,” said Mahomed.
As a result of the strife within Nafcoc, even its business partner, the Department of Small Business Development no longer considers it viable to work with the organisation.
Mosena said Nafcoc was a voluntary organisation, and accused Macingwane of trying to bend the will of the members of the business chamber to retain him (Macingwane) as their leader. ”If you come into a position by vote, you get removed by vote. Why do you cry foul?”
Mosena said Macingwane’s legal action was derailing Nafcoc from its core business, which is to ensure that the economy is majority-controlled by black people.
”Whoever is funding him thrives on dividing black people. He is funded by people not wanting black people to succeed,” said Mosena.
Mosena said Nafcoc was focused on unity and was not worried about anything else.
Ahead of last year’s local government elections, Macingwane publicly endorsed the ANC as Nafcoc president, saying the governing party was still the only vehicle to transform the country’s economy and emancipate the majority of black South Africans from the peripheral margins of society.
On Friday a defiant Macingwane insisted that he was still Nafcoc’s president.
Macingwane’s lawyer, Andiswa Tube, last week, told Nafcoc that Acting Judge Mohamed's ruling will remain suspended, pending the hearing of her client’s application for leave to appeal.
”In light of the above the status quo remains in that Sabelo Macingwane remains the duly elected president of Nafcoc, pending the decision of the SCA,” Tube said.