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Business leader Morena Sefako Ashley Mabogoane stood for emancipation and economic freedom

Business leader Morena Sefako Ashley Mabogoane stood for emancipation and economic freedom
Businessman Morena Sefako Ashley Mabogoane. (Photo: Supplied)

It was with great shock and sadness to learn of the sudden passing away of Morena Ashley Mabogoane on Friday, 3 February following a short struggle with lung cancer at the youthful age of 64.

It is true that it often takes sadness to know what happiness is, noise to appreciate silence and absence to value presence.

Our hearts are shattered that Morena Ashley Mabogoane left us so early while our economic freedom is still an unfinished project, our people still live in a divided country scarred by State Capture and maimed by corruption, a people born in pain and delivered in blood, baptised in crime and swimming in lawlessness, clothed in misery and robed in destitution, stripped of confidence and deprived of hope, robbed of ambition and denied respect, torn apart by violence and divided by racism, defined by inequality and shaped by poverty and still desperate for cleansing and crying for healing.

It was Martin Luther King Junior in 1967’s Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence who poignantly implores us that, “s/he who accepts evil without protesting against it, is really cooperating with it”. Those who turn a blind eye to injustice actually perpetuate injustice. It was Archbishop Emeritus Mpilo Desmond Tutu who pricks our conscience when he reminds all that, “if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”.

It was the late Zapu leader and later Zanu-PF co-leader, Joshua Nkomo who lamented that, ‘the hardest lesson of my life has come to me late. It is that a nation can win freedom without its people becoming free.’

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Morena Ashley Mabogoane was my elder in business, neighbour in Benoni and a family friend who waged a gallant and galactic struggle for emancipation in general and economic freedom, in particular of black people. This was exacerbated by the earlier calling to higher order of his inseparable comrade, the late Dr Jabulane Albert Mabuza.

With other executives and our lifetime partners, we would regularly go on conferences and trips. I remember, like it was just the other day, when we went to the launch of the Toyota Landcruiser Prado VX at Gerotec, the Audi Q7 later, took the Transnet’s Blue Train from Pretoria to Cape Town when Tata Sakumuzi Macozoma was Transnet’s Group CEO, Morena Mbhazima Shilowa the Premier of Gauteng, and so on.

He was among the founding members of the Foundation for African Business and Consumer Services (Fabcos), where he served as its CEO. In 1988, the founders realised that with political liberation imminent, black business people from the informal sector would require organisation and representation to ensure that the political transformation for them would result in tangible economic improvements.

The founding vision still stands: “To ensure that informal Black Business becomes part of the mainstream of the South African economy.”

In hindsight, we now know that “when exposing a crime is treated as committing a crime, you are being ruled by criminals”. Fabcos, which once boasted a business portfolio worth more than a billion rands and which owned Premier Foods, played a vital role, leading to the formation of Business Unity South Africa (Busa). One of its founders, Baba Sam Buthelezi, passed away in 2010.

The owner of, among other entities, 4 Degrees East, Sefako and his wife Molly Mabogoane recently celebrated his 60th birthday, and that this venue had been graded as a three-star, just the other year.

The other entity is the New Seasons Investment Fund, launched following an effective merger in October 2018 between the two respected private equity companies, the New Seasons Investment Holdings and Nodus Equity. New Seasons Investment Holdings was established in 1995 by Sefako and his fellow founder members, Peter Vundla, advocate Kgomotso Moroka, the late Dr Jabulane Albert Mabuza and the late Dr Enos Mabuza — he was the executive chairman and member of the board of directors.

Previously, he served as the chief executive officer at the firm. Until his untimely death, among other posts Mr Mabogoane served as the chairman of Tsogo Sun Holdings; Tsogo Investment Holdings; National Cereal Holdings (Genfoods); non-executive chairman of Anchor Yeast (Zimbabwe); non-executive director of African Bank; director of Eyomhlaba Investment Holdings; New Seasons Auto, New Seasons ICT; Owl Bridge Investments; Time Span Investments and Traffic Investments. He had been the CEO at Fabvest Investment Holdings. He formerly held numerous positions in sales and marketing functions.

He is survived by his lovely wife, Sis’ Molly, daughter, grandchildren and siblings.

Robala ka kgotso Morena Mabogoane! DM

Bonang Mohale is the President of Business Unity South Africa (Busa), Chancellor of the University of the Free State, Professor of Practice in the Johannesburg Business School (JBS) College of Business and Economics and Chairman of The Bidvest Group, SBV Services and ArcelorMittal. He is a member of the Community of Chairpersons (CoC) of the World Economic Forum and author of the best-selling books, Lift As You Rise and Behold The Turtle. He has been included in the Reputation Poll International’s (RPI) 2023 list of the 100 Most Reputable Africans. The selection criteria are integrity, reputation, transparency, visibility and impact. [email protected] #PleaseBeSafe!


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