The Black Management Forum (BMF) on Tuesday demanded that Absa Bank replace the outgoing chief executive Maria Ramos with a black executive.
This comes after Absa announced that Ramos will retire at the end of February when she turns 60. Absa said its board had appointed René van Wyk, a non-executive director since February 2017, as interim chief executive with effect from March 1.
Andile Nomlala, BMF president, said that Absa's executive and management team should reflect the necessary diversity and demographics of the environment in which it operates by appointing a black chief executive.
Nomlala was speaking during a ministerial panel discussion at the inaugural Business Economic Indaba hosted by Business Unity South Africa.
"A clear demand from the BMF is that that replacement must be a black South African. It's not at the exclusion of not having a white CEO, but we demand that as we move towards a transformed society, a gender sensitive society and an inclusive society, it must be reflective of South African demographics," Nomlala said.
"And if we don't take steps in doing that, in trying to achieve that whenever an opportunity arises, then we will forever in the next 50 years be complaining about the race issue that we did not need to be complaining about."
Ramos has been group chief executive since 2009 and has led Absa through significant milestones including acquiring Barclays’s Africa subsidiary banks; the sell-down and the start of separation from Barclays and establishing a new strategy as a standalone financial institution.
"Absa will announce a permanent appointment to the position of group chief executive in due course, following the finalization of the ongoing process of appointing a new CEO, and the requisite regulatory approvals," the bank said.
BMF has also mulled court action against State-owned arms manufacturer, Denel, over its appointment of a white chief executive, Daniel du Toit.