Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has asked for a detailed report on how the National Empowerment Fund could have granted businesswoman Khanyi Dhlomo a R34-million loan.
Dhlomo, through Ndalo Luxury Venture, received the loan to establish a luxury fashion shop in Johannesburg.
The cash-strapped fund has defended its decision to fund Dhlomo’s Luminance luxury-brands store.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has criticised the National Empowerment Fund’s (NEF) loan for luxury boutique Luminance, co-owned by Khanyi Dhlomo. The clothing store stocks brands that include, amongst others, Giorgio Armani, Tom Ford, Oscar de la Renta and Alexander McQueen
“It has come to the attention of Economic Freedom Fighters that the National Empowerment Fund has granted Khanyi Dhlomo R34-million to open an exclusive elite boutique of overpriced clothes in Hyde Park, Johannesburg,” said an EFF statement on Monday.
“The manner in which the R34-million was approved by the wife of Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, who is the current [chief executive] of the NEF, is questionable.”
The fund’s CEO, Philisiwe Buthelezi-Mthethwa, praised Dhlomo for her entrepreneurial skills. She said it was “wonderful” that labels such as Oscar de la Renta would now be available in South Africa.
But it seems Davies is not convinced. He said he wanted to establish whether the transaction was in line with the public empowerment process.
“It is definitely our intention as a department that we want to see more public money which supports empowerment supporting actual people who are getting involved in the productive sector of the economy and also in local productivity.
“We are not particularly interested in businesses that are going to be importing luxury goods,” said Davies.
Moemise Motsepe, the fund’s spokesman, told Business Day on Monday that the retail sector was primarily white and foreign-owned but most consumers were black.
“With the Ndalo Luxury Venture transaction, the National Empowerment Fund is laying the building blocks of black participation in this sector.
“Though the fund has funded other black women entrepreneurs, the Ndalo transaction is the biggest by the fund in respect of black women entrepreneurs,” he said.
He said the investment was in line with the fund’s mandate and policies in that it supported a company owned and managed by black women in an untransformed sector.
Last week Dhlomo said her business had a broadly based shareholding. Ten percent of the company belongs to a staff trust and 10% is owned by rural women who will supply the shop.
Dhlomo is the founder of Ndalo Media, which publishes Destiny and Destiny Man magazines and Sawubona – SAA’s in-flight magazine. She is also CEO of Ndalo Luxury Ventures.
The empowerment fund is currently waiting for a cash injection from the state.
Khanyi’s father, Oscar, is a former Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) secretary-general, who is now a casino tycoon.
His daughter and Mark Shuttleworth shared a “special relationship” earlier.
The billionaire “Afronaut” Shuttleworth’s “warm and special relationship” with Dhlomo ended when she married the Nigerian Chinezi Chijioke. – timeslive.co.za/mg.co.za/citypress.co.za