Africa’s leading lady: Daphne Mashile-Nkosi

Mining magnate Daphne Mashile-Nkosi has proven that she can rule Africa's male-dominated industry with an iron fist

Known to many as the “iron lady” of Mzansi’s male-dominated mining industry, it’s no wonder the spotlight fell on Daphne Mashile-Nkosi when she was recently announced as CEO of the Year at the African CEO Forum held in Geneva, Switzerland, last week.

African business leaders nominated for the award were assessed by their peers across Africa using four specific criteria. These were the leader’s commitment to and results in promoting Africa’s private sector, strengthening regional integration, developing intra-African exchanges, and social and environmental responsibility.

Mining Weekly quoted Mashile-Nkosi as saying during her acceptance speech: “I am humbled to have won this prestigious award, for it goes far beyond the recognition of business success, [as it is] coupled with my commitment to social upliftment and environmental responsibility. It also acknowledges that an African woman can make her mark in the historically male-dominated mining industry.

“The mining industry has not been an easy road, especially for a black woman, but I have persevered and succeeded in surmounting the many obstacles that have been placed in my path. Where there is no pain, there is no gain,” she added.

The Kalagadi Manganese sinter plant is situated in Hotazel in the Northern Cape and is said to be the largest manganese sinter plant in the world. Mashile-Nkosi is executive chairperson of this company, a joint venture between her business Kalahari Resources, mining giant ArcelorMittal and state-owned lender, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). The joint venture has created over 3 000 jobs in the poverty-stricken Northern Cape.

In September 2012, City Press online reported that Kalahari Resources had invested over R1,3 billion, in the venture, while ArcelorMittal put up more than $430 million (R4,63 billion) and the IDC, with a 10% stake in the business, invested R100 million.

The site reported at the time that a dispute that had brewed between majority shareholders Kalahari Resources and ArcelorMittal led to Kalahari taking ArcelorMittal  to the South Gauteng High Court. Kalahari Resources won the case to force ArcelorMittal to honour its obligations in the shareholders agreement to pay R241,3 million towards their joint venture Kalagadi Manganese.

But Mashile-Nkosi never let the pressure of the court battle faze her. For her it was business as usual, an attitude that has helped Kalagadi Manganese become a success.

According to Leadership Online, the R7-billion mining venture in Hotazel will lead to economic development in the province, while also empowering women from the bottom up. Mashile-Nkosi says a leader must be a visionary, optimistic, decisive, and independent in thought, self-motivated, tenacious and patient.

When reflecting on her own leadership qualities, she rates resilience, self-motivation, tenacity, courageousness, vision and patience as her strengths and says the ultimate achievement in her life would be the completion of the newly planned smelter plant.

Born in Pilgrims Rest, Mashile-Nkosi later became a political activist, and in 2001 started the journey into the manganese mining industry with her now-late husband Stanley Nkosi. Mashile-Nkosi is a trustee and the chairperson of the Women’s Development Bank Trust and chairperson of the Women’s Development Bank Investments Holdings.

Her accolades also include being nominated to study development economics in Nagoya, Japan in 1993 by the Women’s Development Bank. She holds multiple directorships in various companies from Temoso Technologies Limited, Metmar Limited and Bhakazi Banalima Investments, among others.