A tribute to ABSIP founder and former President – Mxolisi Mbetse

Farewell to President Mxolisi Mbetse

As the political lifespan of the apartheid regime in South Africa approached its overdue end, the question of what the country would look like after the political transition of 1994 became the new national conundrum. The effects of the racialised practices in place since 1948 – exclusionary and exploitative – had left much of the country’s national resources concentrated in the hands of big government and private monopolies. The financial sector – representing the single most intersectional sector affecting all parts of the economy – was the most glaring illustration of the challenge that needed to be resolved.

Fortunately for South Africa, one of the few individuals with an intimate knowledge of the financial services sector, was ready to step up and assist the government craft a roadmap towards the transformation of the sector. As a longstanding chairperson of UBS Corporate Finance and the country director of HSBC in South Africa, Mxolisi Mbetse’s unique insights and experiences were invaluable to a government trying to chart a roadmap towards democratic governance. As the late President Nelson Mandela assembled an elite team of advisors tasked with drafting post-apartheid policies, Mxolisi Mbetse found himself thrust into the epicentre of critical decision-making for a nation seeking to formulate a new script for its economic fortunes. In the post-transition phase, his skills were once again called upon as the government embarked on a process of rationalising the state enterprises portfolio between 1996 and 1999.

In addition to his critical duties within the corridors of state policy formulation, Mbetse also collaborated with other black professionals to create an organisation that would be tasked with driving the advocacy and transformation of the financial sector. When the Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals was founded in 1995, Mxolisi’s contribution was fundamental to ensuring that it became both a constructive agitator and partner to the state and the financial services sector in order to drive conversations around transformation. In his capacity as ABSIP’s second president, Mxolisi worked tirelessly with the original transformation advocates to translate government’s intentions to tangible policy proposals.

As the fruits of his endeavours became evident in the growth of ABSIP and the creation of various laws aimed at fostering transformation; Mxolisi also grew his corporate footprint by creating the Industrial Development Group (IDG). In its prime, IDG became a leading group of specialist companies with interests across resources, financial services, real estate, agriculture across the African region. ABSIP mourns his untimely passing with great sadness, and he will be remembered as a ‘man committed to change that would not rest until the job was completed.’

Mutle Mogase, who worked with Mxolisi Mbetse in the founding of ABSIP, remembers him as ‘man whose commitment to change was only matched by his unwavering belief that black professionals were more than able and capable of leading the financial sector and that one day the South African financial services sector could and would one day be reflective of the country we live in.’

As ABSIP reflects on its first 25 years, the contribution of Mxolisi Mbetse in creating a lasting legacy of advocating for transformation is a challenge that Polo Leteka-Radebe – the current President of ABSIP – believes must be continued in order to honour the legacy of the generation of Mxolisi Mbetse; and also create an enduring legacy for the next generation of black professionals.

Farewell President Mxolisi Mbetse. ABSIP salutes you.

Mxolisi Gershom Mbetse

05.09.1957 – 16.03.2021