The voice of agriculture . Die stem van landbou . Izwe lezokulima

Spotlight on Land Bank as CE Resigns

Instability and lack of long-term planning is a blight on South Africa’s biggest agricultural lender

The Mercury

16 Jan 2020


SOUTH AFRICA’S persisting drought in the past has had a severe impact on farmers who have lost life stock. The Land Bank often had to come to the rescue.

THE RESIGNATION of acting Land Bank chief executive, Konehali Gugushe, from the position has thrown a spotlight on the bank’s board, which has yet to announce a permanent chief executive – a year after the secondment of Tshokolo Nchoncho to head the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).

This comes after it was announced that Gugushe, whose permanent role is the bank’s chief risk officer, was resigning from that position and would serve notice until the end of March when she would leave the organisation.

This has left the board scrambling for a figure head, leading to the appointment of its executive for strategy and communications, Sydney Soundy, to hold the fort.

“The process to appoint a permanent chief executive is at an advanced stage with an announcement expected in due course,” the board said.

The bank has announced three acting chief executives since Nchoncho’s departure.

Nchoncho’s replacement, then chief financial officer Bennie van Rooyen, left the organisation in May to pursue personal interest five months into the role, compelling the appointment of Gugushe, who too has done a seven-month stint before calling it quits.

“The board conveys its continued commitment to diligently and successfully steer the bank to deliver on its mandate, and to provide appropriate support to the executive and senior management team during this time,” the statement from Rebecca Phalatse, the general manager: marketing & communications of the Land Bank, said.

Agrisa executive director Omri van Zyl said the apparent instability and lack of long-term planning was of concern for South Africa’s biggest agricultural lender with a loan book running to more than R40 billion.

“This undermines confidence in the bank and the agricultural sector to investors, the board needs to step up and appoint a chief executive. The organisation serves a very important function,” he said.

Neo Masithela, the national chairperson of the African Farmers Association

of South Africa, said while operationally the Land Bank had not been apparent impacted, the indecision by the National Treasury impacted on the credibility of what had been seen as one of the most steady state-owned enterprises.

“We need the stability, when there is no permanent chief executive there is no long-term planning. We have to be speaking to different people all the time. There is no carry over of responsibility on long term business. We are concerned about the governance processes at the bank,” Masithela said.