Master Builders enters new era: Bafikile Bonke Simelane becomes the MBSA’s first-ever black President

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - NOVEMBER 28, 2016

Bafikile Bonke Simelane is the new President of the Master Builders South Africa (MBSA) following his appointment at the organisation’s annual congress, which was held in Durban in September. His appointment saw him become the 112-year-old organisation’s first-ever black President.

Simelane, who is the Director Group Corporate Services at NMC Construction Group, was born in Boksburg and grew up in Daveyton on the East Rand.

He holds various qualifications including a National Diploma in Building (Cape Peninsula University of Technology); a Bachelor of Technology: Construction Management (University of Johannesburg); a Post-graduate Certificate: Project Management for Built Environment Professionals (University of Pretoria); participated in a Construction Management Programme (Stellenbosch University); a Director Development Programme (Institute of Directors of Southern Africa [IoDSA]) and an ImagiNation Leadership Development Programme (Gordon Institute of Business Science).

Simelane says that there was a time early in his career when he almost quit because of the lack of coaching, mentoring and career advancement opportunities.

“This is why I’m particularly sensitive about the continued plight of young, especially black, graduates, when it comes to lack of access to in-service or experiential learning opportunities, which is a requirement for the fulfillment of their academic obligations to obtain their qualifications from tertiary institutions,” he describes.

For this reason, he was nominated to become a South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP) Construction Management Ambassador.

“This is after I was appointed to serve in the SACPCMP by the Minister of Public Works in 2014. Needless to say, I’m also a member of the Construction Management Development Committee (CMDC) which organizes the annual Construction Management Summit. I’m also Chairperson the Registration and Education Committee (REGCOM),” Simelane adds.

Concerning his leadership style, he says that, in spite of his busy schedules, he tries to be ‘available and accessible’ to people, especially his subordinates.

“I’m also a firm believer and a disciple of MBWA or ‘Management By Walking Around’ whether I’m at the office or at NMC’s construction sites across the country. I think it’s now called ‘Visible Felt Leadership’,” Simelane adds.

During his term as MBSA President, he hopes to continue driving the MBSA’s focus on transformation – ensuring that emerging black contractors are brought into the mainstream and see that they progress through the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) Contractor Grading System for example.

“As built environment professionals, we have a ‘civic/national’ duty and must be ‘change agents’ to do more to support them through coaching, mentoring, skills transfer to build capacity and enhance their prospects for success, make them more competitive, sustainable and profitable,” he describes.

“This has a potential to contribute to job creation, poverty alleviation and reduce inequality through access to opportunity for wealth creation, prosperity, nation-building and social cohesion.”