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Anglo American appoints Mpumi Zikalala

Business Maverick


Anglo’s appointment of Mpumi Zikalala means black, female CEOs of JSE Top 40 companies doubles … to two

Mpumi Zikalala, currently CEO of diamond company De Beers’ Managed Operations business.
By Tim Cohen
05 Oct 2021 1

South Africa’s largest mining company, Anglo American, has made two significant appointments, booting current Kumba CEO Themba Mkhwanazi upstairs to take over the bulk commodities business and appointing a 41-year-old black woman, Mpumi Zikalala, as his replacement.

The appointment of Zikalala, currently CEO of diamond company De Beers’ Managed Operations business, instantly elevates her to being the only second black female CEO of a JSE Top 40-listed company alongside Bidvest’s Mpumi Madisa.

While a much-needed fillip, in general, the representation of female CEOs among South Africa’s top companies remains appalling. Auditing company PwC’s August 2020 report on executive directors found that only 5.8% of JSE-listed companies had female CEOs, and that women constitute about 15% of all executives.

The vacancies opened up after Seamus French, current head of the bulk commodities business, decided to leave Anglo American at the end of 2021 after 14 years with the company.

Both appointments will take effect on 1 January 2022. Mpumi’s successor at De Beers Managed Operations has not yet been named. 

Anglo CEO Mark Cutifani congratulated Mkhwanazi and Zikalala on their new roles, saying Mkhwanazi would shape the strategy for the company’s global iron ore, metallurgical coal and manganese interests. 

“The premium quality of our steelmaking ingredients and the partnerships we will continue to build to develop cleaner steelmaking technologies, have never been more critical as we work to tackle climate change,” he said. 

Zikalala’s extensive operational experience at De Beers would be “instrumental as she builds on Kumba’s progress to drive sustained, safe, world-class performance, working closely with its strategic business partners”.

The appointment of Zikalala follows the appointment of another woman in the broader Anglo group, Natascha Viljoen, now CEO of Anglo’s platinum business. And with Nolitha Fakude as chair of Anglo’s South African management board, Anglo is pulling its not inconsiderable weight in promoting talented women. The only other woman in charge of a major South African listed company is Leila Fourie, CEO of the JSE itself.

Yet, female representation at senior levels overall remains very low. The PwC report, now a little dated since its research period ended in late 2019, found gender representation in listed companies across all sectors was low. “It is notable that 96.6% of all CEOs on the JSE are male, 87.2% of CFOs are male and 91% of executive directors are male,” the report found. BD/DM


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  • The appointment of these women to top jobs is wonderful to note. Modelling for girls and women (and men) that there is something to reach for when our worlds can seem so limited and small by sexism and male domination of…well, every sphere of life – business, academia, sport, science, the arts. But, before I jump for joy, I remember this … “At the current rate of progress, the global gender gap will take 108 years to close and economic gender parity will take 202 years to achieve. That is the conclusion of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2018, published in December.”

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