9th NBF Annual General Meeting - Acknowledgement of Service for Lynette Chen

A Valedictory Address by Dr Reuel J. Khoza I  17 September 2018

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, esteemed delegates from the public and private sector, friends, funders, fellow NBF founding members and all supporters of the NEPAD Business Foundation.

Today is a very special day, and as Patron and former Chairman of the NBF, I am honoured to be one of the people speaking about the efforts, sacrifices and achievements of Lynette.

I met Lynette in 2002. She exuded a high level of expert ICT knowledge, had an unmistakable confidence, gravitas and was lucidly informed by an unquestionable understanding of her Hewlett Packard mandate.

The world was a very different place then, there was no Facebook, YouTube or WhatsApp. I know that for the millennials, such a life may sound like the dark ages, but to us, it was an interesting and exciting time for Africa.

Africa was becoming more democratic and economic development was at the top of most governments’ agenda across the continent. This was following the formation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), a socio economic development programme of the African Union which had been adopted at the 37th session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in July 2001 in Lusaka, Zambia.

The NEPAD strategic agenda arose from a mandate given to the five initiating Heads of State (Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and Thabo Mbeki of South Africa) by the AU to develop an integrated socio-economic development framework for Africa, among the 54 African countries, corporate Africa, and the rest of the world.

Following the launch of NEPAD, President Thabo Mbeki threw down the gauntlet for the formation of a business arm of the new partnership for Africa’s development. This was at the African World Economic Forum in Durban in 2002. A few South African Corporations heeded the call, and the NEPAD Business Foundation was established.

Hearing all the work that the NBF has done in the 2017 – 2018 reporting period alone, it is most edifying.

The first programme of the NBF centred on Corporate Governance and leadership because we understood then that the new Africa would require sound governance and strong leadership to ensure that the Africa we were building would come to fruition. We launched the four NBF ‘Covenants and Declarations’ at the WEF Africa Summit in 2003 which more or less mapped out what we, as the private sector, were committed to do to support the development of the continent. In 2007, the NBF and the Wits Business School launched and implemented the ‘African Leadership Programme’ which had participants from corporations and government departments from several African countries. Later on, the NBI collaborated with GIBS.

Fast forward to today, it is amazing how the organisation has grown so much and how it has become the notable force for impactful positive change in Africa that we always hoped it would be.

Lynette in paying tribute to your pivotal contribution in the establishment and growth of the NEPAD Business Foundation, let me briefly state three or four things:

1. The first is to do with character: Harry Z Banks proclaims that “Courtesy, kindness, sincerity, truthfulness, thoughtfulness, and good manners translated into behaviour reflect one’s true character.” You have these in superabundance, optimally configured. It was delightful to work with you as a colleague.

2. One of your Chinese ancestors, Confucius, advises that “There are three marks of a superior human being: being virtuous, she is free from anxiety; being wise, she is free from perplexity; being brave, she is free from fear.”

Lynette, you amply demonstrated virtue and at no stage did you show anxiety. Your wisdom shone through, leaving no room for confusion. You displayed much courage in approaching European, American and South African donors to the NBI Programme.

3. SJ Khosa, a music prodigy whose compositions I spent a better part of the last three years or so, co-orchestrating and producing, proclaims in one of his classic compositions, Mintirho Ya Vulavula (Deeds Speak):

Deeds speak, they speak in a language,
A language that it is understood by everyone.
Be still, deeds themselves that speak.
Get off your scoundrels, get out of the path of progress.
Be still, deeds themselves shall speak.

Lynette, your deeds have spoken. Your managerial and leadership contributions are manifest. You bequeath a commendable legacy.

Finally, given your extensive and intensive work as CEO of NBI, you have rendered yourself highly desirable to any corporation that is seriously Pan African in orientation and operation.

4. To Lynette: it is truly incredible what you have helped build here. You should be celebrated as a heroin in your own right and honoured as a living legend. You have my respect and we are all in awe of you Lynette. You are a true daughter of the soil and your contribution to the future of our motherland is something we will always treasure.

Wherever you go and whatever you do, your bones are a part of this organisation and we know you will excel in anything you pour your passion into.

To borrow inspiration from Andrew Carnegie “Think of yourself as on the threshold of unparalleled success. A whole glorious life lies before you. Achieve! Achieve!” Bravo and Bon Voyage!