ABSIP MOURNS THE FALL OF A GREAT GIANT— DR JABULANE ALBERT MABUZA – 17 JUNE 2021
At the heart of the #FeesMustFall crisis in 2016, a group of senior leaders in the business, academic and civil society movements converged in Boksburg for a weekend of deliberations around the higher education funding crisis. The convenor of the meeting – Justice Dikgang Moseneke, collaborated with the Tsogo Sun chairman Jabu Mabuza to provide the institutional and logistics support for the meeting. The choice of Mabuza as the man in charge of leading that engagement, was an appropriate acknowledgment of his status and stature as a business leader with a keen understanding of the issues underpinning the pursuit of social justice and access to higher education. Forty years before then, in June 1976, Mabuza was a student who observed first-hand the role of young people in confronting systemic injustices. The price he paid for that was deep as he was summarily expelled from school. Later on, his pursuit of higher education at the University of Limpopo (Turfloop) was interrupted permanently by a lack of funding.
Over the years, as he navigated through the worlds of business, advocacy and leadership, he distinguished himself as a man of conviction with a deep sense of commitment to the country of his birth.
In 1988, Mabuza spearheaded the formation of the Foundation of African Businesses and Consumer services. In later years, as the growing pains of a nascent democracy saw the world of business and the world of policy and politics often speaking past each other; Mabuza took it upon himself to foster an age of collaboration across big business formations. When he took on the role of heading Business Unity South Africa; the CEO Initiative and Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) – Mabuza put on multiple complementary hats with a view of finally getting the world of big business to work towards a common purpose.
His role across the business and social sectors, was intersectional and multidimensional. The sense of enterprise he displayed in the small business world – particularly in the transport business where he started off as a taxi driver then became a taxi owner and an influential member of the South African Black Taxi Association, was equally evident within the corporate corridors of Tsogo Sun where he served as Group Chief Executive Officer. His ability to provide leadership across diverse sectors was reflected in his membership of the World Travel and Tourism Council in the UK; the Concordia Leadership Council in the USA; and the Regional Business Council of the World Economic Forum where he served as chairman. The world of state-owned enterprises – often a no-go area for black professionals in recent years – became a focus area of Mabuza in his latter years. As chairman of Telkom, he has overseen its most stable period underpinned by sustained success in a thoroughly competitive sector. When the governance crisis at Eskom escalated, Mabuza put up his hand agreed to join the board and shepherd it though the choppy waters of a transition involving political changes and the terminal crisis of capacity constraints. The period – punctuated by a governance and leadership overhaul – ended only when Mabuza took personal responsibility for the ongoing operational challenges at an organisation where he had stepped in as acting CEO. Upon his exit, his legacy of initiating substantive changes in the governance and leadership of Eskom, enabled the organisation to enter a period of relative stability that had been missing for many years.
His journey in activism, advocacy and leadership, reached a seminal moment in July 2017 when the University of the Witwatersrand conferred an Honorary Doctorate in Commerce for his ‘leadership in business in the cause of creating a successful economy that creates a better life for all.’ During his address to the Faculty of Engineering graduates that day, Mabuza called upon the young people assembled at Wits Great Hall to “Avoid getting weighed down by populism or by pessimism. Care about people. And make an impact on our country and the world a positive one.”
Such words epitomised the life and story of Dr Jabulane Albert Mabuza. When the Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals (ABSIP) learnt of his passing 45 years to the day that he participated in the Soweto uprising, we were left with a deep sense of shock and sadness. As a transformational leader in the advocacy space. Dr Mabuza was one of the leaders that ABSIP looked up to in times of challenges. His loss, leaves a deep void in the country’s leadership corridors, the advocacy space and the transformation hallways.
ABSIP sends its deep and heartfelt condolences to his wife Siphiwe and his three children. We wish you strength and healing and our thoughts and prayers are with you during this tough time.
Hamba Kahle Mshengu, Hamba Kahle Mkhonto We Sizwe. You’ll be sorely missed.
Dr Jabulane Albert Mabuza
04.02.1958 – 16.06.2021
By Polo Leteka Radebe
For and on behalf of ABSIP