Saki Macozoma 2007

Saki Macozoma has gone from prison barracks to the boardroom in understated style. His political career began in the mid-1970s as an organiser for the South African Students Movement.  After being imprisoned on Robben Island for five years for his involvement in a student protest, he became active in the Detainees Support Committee and played an instrumental role in the formation of the United Democratic Front.

Through the 1980s and 90s he represented the South African Council of Churches in the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM), headed the Media Liaison Unit of the Department of Information and Publicity of the African National Congress (ANC), was elected to the ANC’s National Executive Committee (a position he still holds), became a Member of Parliament and was elected Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications.

When he left parliament and moved into business in 1996, corporate South Africa sat up and took notice of Saki when he was appointed as the first black person to head up parastatal Transnet. During his stay at Transnet, he managed to turn the company’s losses into profits and lobbied for the restructuring of parastatals. He argued that sell-offs would not only strengthen government coffers and boost productivity but would also provide a platform for black people to build viable, world-class businesses and become a vehicle for South Africa to join the global economy. He left Transnet in February 2001 to concentrate on private business interests. 

Macozoma, who held the positions of CEO at New Africa Investments Limited and the deputy chairmanship at the black-founded investment firm, Safika Holdings, applied the lessons learnt in the first wave of Black Economic Empowerment to the business environment.  One of his great achievements was securing Safika’s place in the R5.4 billion Standard Bank and Liberty BEE deal in 2004 - one of the largest BEE deals concluded in South Africa to date.

He is currently the Chairperson of Stanlib and Andisa Capital, is a significant shareholder and Deputy Chairman of Safika Holdings (PTY) Ltd and serves on the board of VWSA.  He also chairs the Presidential Working Group on Big Business, a forum bringing together the President, ministers and representatives of big business who discuss issues straddling the political and corporate divide. It is clear that he is trying to transform this country’s boardrooms the way he helped to change its government.

He has made time amongst his many business interests to make a significant contribution to higher education transformation in South Africa.

He was Chairman of the National Commission on Higher Education that gave rise to the changes in the higher educational landscape and the merging of higher educational institutions, is currently the Chairperson of the Council for Higher Education, a member of the Board of Governors of the Rhodes University Foundation and the Council of the University of the Witwatersrand and is Chairperson of the Kwazulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra.

The diversity and extent of his contribution towards the economic, educational and social development of the South African community makes him, as one of Port Elizabeth’s most renowned sons, a worthy candidate for this Council Prestige Award.