Nafcoc in another leadership tussle

       Reverend Joe Hlongwane (on right)
Re-elected: Reverend Joe Hlongwane (on right)

A spat has once again broken out over the legitimate leadership of the National Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Nafcoc, under a leadership of hawker Lawrence Mavundla, has headed to court in an attempt to prevent a group of people from holding a meeting where Mavundla's leadership would be overthrown.

This was after a group wanting to overthrow Mavundla's leadership last Thursday gathered in a hotel in Boksburg and surprisingly elected retired businessman Reverend Joe Hlongwane as president.

The Johannesburg High Court ruled that the meeting was allowed to take place. However, the court will sit again on January 29 to rule on whether Mavundla's leadership is still legitimate.

Hlongwane, credited with forming Nafhold, Nafcoc's investment company, and spearheading the ploughing of about R5-million into Hosken Consolidated Investment and disinvesting the investment when it reached R1.2-billion, is in his 70s and last served as Nafcoc president in 1998.

Hlongwane said he was reluctant to be re-elected Nafcoc president, due to his old age and wanting to protect his image as he is a pastor of the International Assemblies of God.

"However, I agreed to be voted in as I wanted to unify everybody and rebuild the organisation," he said.

He accused the current crop of Nafcoc leadership of being composed of people who were responsible for the disappearance of money in the organisation.

He said he was also not impressed by comments made by the leadership of Nafcoc in the media.

"This shows that it was not right for us to abdicate the leadership of the organisation to wrong people," said Hlongwane.

Nafcoc deputy president Sinyosi Sikhosana described Hlongwane as "a mad old man who needs to return to retirement".

Sikhosana said the January 29 ruling would not affect the Nafcoc leadership.

"How can the ruling affect us when the people we have taken to court are not members of the chamber," said Sikhosana.

He said the Hlongwane faction had a democratic right to hold a meeting, but this should not be done in the name of Nafcoc.

"Hlongwane cannot just try to make himself the president of Nafcoc by just calling people from the streets and asking them to elect him.

"Hlongwane is also not eligible for election because he is neither a council member nor a leader of any Nafcoc constituency," he said.