SOUTH AFRICA – The Cabinet of South Africa has approved the appointment of agricultural economist Thabi Nkosi as the new non-executive chair of the Land and Agricultural Development Bank, SA’s largest lender to farmers.
This follows nomination of Nkosi by the Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, after the term of Land Bank’s previous board of directors came to an end on 30 November.
Nkosi, who is a respected agricultural economist, has diverse and extensive experience in agribusiness, agricultural policy-making, and agribusiness operations.
She has worked in numerous positions in the field, in both the private and public sector.
Currently, she serves as an independent non-executive trustee for the National Empowerment Fund and Chairperson of Mintirho Foundation (Coca-Cola Bottlers SA Agriculture Investment Fund), and as an advisory director for the agritech company KHULA.
As nonexecutive chairperson, Nkosi will lead the revival of the country’s largest agriculture-focused lender. It is currently in dire financial straits.
Her qualifications include an MBA, a postgraduate diploma in business administration and management, and an MSc and BSc (Agric) in Agricultural Economics.
Nkosi was appointed along with two other female black professionals in other key positions in the public service.
Pamela Mondliwa was appointed as Godongwana’s special advisor on economic policy and Nokwanda Mahori named the parliamentary liaison to the Ministry of Finance.
Mondliwa is an economist who has worked across the spheres of consulting, academia, and policy, including at the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development as a senior economist, and for Berkeley Research Group and the national Competition Commission.
Meanwhile, Mahori has experience at various non-profit and research organisations on a range of policy issues, such as financial inclusion, microfinance and labour issues. She also worked as a coordinator for the ANC’s Economic Transformation Sub-Committee.
By appointing three black women in key positions in the public service Godongwana not only recognises their particular professional and academic talents, but also the urgent and continuing need to achieve gender equality in the workplace.
“This is why, in addition to the moral imperative, we must not flinch away from the goal of achieving gender equity, especially when we have an abundance of young, highly qualified, and skilled women eager to contribute to the betterment of the country through public service,” Godongwana said.
The Land Bank is a key player in the country’s food security, as it provides nearly a third of the country’s agricultural debt. But it has been struggling.
Recently, Bloomberg reported that the bank was proposing a split into a corporate and commercial business, and a separate one focused on development projects, in a bid to help repay debt over the next five years.
The plan would help the bank “restart the rebuilding process” and claw its way out of a default position, it said at the time.
The Land Bank missed a loan repayment in April last year that triggered a cross-default in notes issued under a R50 billion (US$3 billion) bond programme. It reported a loss last year after a drought caused many of its customers to default on their loans.