Oliver Awards honours South Africa’s black business leaders



Nceba Ndzwayiba and Ramasela Mokonyama from Netcare won the Diversity Award.
Nceba Ndzwayiba and Ramasela Mokonyama collected the Diversity Award on behalf of Netcare Limited. (Images: topco.co.za)

• Edna Hamilton
Events Manager
Top Media and Communications
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The Oliver Transformation and Empowerment Awards announced its 2014 winners at a black-tie event at Emperors Palace on 25 April. Attended by South Africa’s private and public sector who’s who, and three Rivonia Trialists: Andrew Mlangeni, Denis Goldberg and Ahmed Kathrada, the 13th annual Oliver Empowerment Awards honoured “organisations and individuals powering transformation in South Africa” and this year, celebrated 20 years of democracy. The awards recognise “companies and individuals excelling in job creation, entrepreneurship and enterprise development in the public and private sectors”.

The event also celebrated the launch of South Africa 20 Years of Success: Business & Government, a commemorative book produced by Topco Media with the support of the Department of Arts and Culture. Topco Media organised the awards.

Oliver Empowerment Awards winners

Leading the individual award category was Future Black Leader Simphiwe Xulu. Judges praised the Mhlathuze Water operations manager for her “value-centric leadership style”, which they said “consistently delivers business results through empowering people”.

Top Black Male Leader of the Year was Sizwe Nxasana, FirstRand Group CEO, with the Top Black Female Leader of the Year award going to Boniswa Corporate Solutions CEO Lynette Magasa.

In the organisational category, Eskom Holdings emerged as a multiple award winner, taking the Socio-Economic Development Award as well as the Enterprise & Supplier Development Award, in recognition of its “investment in the economic sustainability of emerging business partners”.

Volkswagen was honoured with the Skills Development Award for its highly integrated development programmes that judges said “place continuous learning at the heart of the organisation”.

Celebrating 20 years of democracy

The event also paid tribute to the anti-apartheid activists who attended the event, awarding Lifetime Achievement awards to Mlangeni, Goldberg and Kathrada, who, along with Nelson Mandela, faced charges of, among others, sabotage and treason, in the 1963 to 1964 Rivonia Trial.

“Fifty years ago, these men stood on trial for equality, becoming one of the main links in our history that brought democracy and equal opportunities to South Africa. We wanted to recognise that, and their contribution towards SA business,” said Ralf Fletcher, CEO at Topco Media.

“The culmination of these was a reflection of the opportunities that are today available to all South Africans, but were not always possible in the past.

“We are celebrating 20 years of democracy this year, but it’s also 20 years of success in black business. These winners made a mammoth contribution to that. But transformation is a journey; it doesn’t stop, and it’s something that can always be improved,” said Fletcher.

Honours were also awarded to leaders in the health, education and rural development sectors.

Empowering leadership and innovation

The Oliver Empowerment Awards are South Africa’s “premier awards for leadership and innovation in empowerment and transformation”.

According to Fletcher the awards have created a legacy of inspiration for the country’s business elite. The awards aim to identify organisations and business leaders “creating a culture of entrepreneurship, developing best practices and carving out powerful and sustainable models of business for empowerment and transformation within South African business”.

Fletcher said, “The individuals here, tonight, are the driving force of South Africa’s successes. We are all here to do business together. South Africa’s business and government leaders have been instrumental in moulding the country into what it is today; a shining example to the world.”

Miller Matola, CEO at Brand South Africa, said, “Leaders are forged by circumstances and each of us has to play our part. We need to build a brand nation.” He added that South Africans must build the country’s reputation and rise above difficult circumstances.

Philile Dlamini and Bilquees Mahmood accepted the Socio-Economic Development Award on behalf of Eskom Holdings.


What makes an Oliver Empowerment Award Winner?

Nominees had to demonstrate an average annual revenue of more than R35-million, hold a valid, South African National Accreditation System-approved Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) certificate and prove the successful implementation of effective B-BBEE policies and measurement mechanisms.

The criteria provided a comprehensive look at the level of empowerment amongst these companies, a requirement that sets the awards apart, said Fletcher.

“By unpacking what they are doing and why they are doing it, the focus on how nominees demonstrate the effect of their empowerment programme is what really differentiates us from other awards,” he said.

The Oliver Empowerment Awards winners

According to Fletcher, “The quality of applications this year was remarkable. We had some big multinationals up against some of our South African JSE [Johannesburg Stock Exchange] companies, so those being nominated were really our head and shoulders in business.

“The winners represented a pool of local and multinational entrants who demonstrated the highest calibre of SA businesses.”

The results, which recognised 20 companies and individuals, were audited by black-owned auditing firm SekelaXabiso, which also sponsored the Enterprise & Supplier Development Award.

The judges, selected based on their “contribution to a culture of entrepreneurship, best practices and sustainable models of business transformation”, included Matola, Microsoft South Africa CEO Mteto Nyati, Government Communications Information Services Chief Director Donald Liphoko, South African Bureau of Standards CEO Bonakele Mehlomakulu, and Gauteng Growth Development Agency CEO Siphiwe Ngwenya.

Get the full winners’ list here.