AbsaBusiness Times reports that Absa chair Wendy Lucas-Bull has defended the banking group against perceptions that its first black CEO, Daniel Mminele, was forced out as a result of clashes with white executives.

She reiterated on Sunday that his departure was a result of differences about the group’s future strategy, and was not due to any lack of commitment to transformation. Absa shocked the market on Tuesday when it announced it had reached an agreement with Mminele that he would step down on 30 April, because “the parties have not managed to achieve alignment in relation to the group’s strategy and culture transformation journey”. The parting of ways with Mminele, a former Reserve Bank deputy governor who joined Absa in January last year, was on a “no fault” basis, the group said. Sources at the bank have spoken of an “incumbent cabal” that pushed back against changes Mminele wanted to make, and had the ear of the board. Absa put a new strategy in place in 2018, after the exit of its former UK parent Barclays. Lucas-Bull emphasised that the disagreements were not over the “what” of the strategy but “the when and the how, which includes the operating model”. She also said the board was “doing some self-reflection right now in terms of the lessons learnt”. Mminele’s sudden exit has raised concerns about reversals in transformation at Absa and in the financial sector more generally, especially coming after African Bank unexpectedly parted ways with its CEO, Basani Maluleke, last month.

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