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Wiseman Lumkile Nkuhlu

Wiseman Lumkile Nkuhlu was born on 5 February 1944 at Cala in the Eastern Cape and studied at the University of Fort Hare, where he earned his BCom in 1970; the University of Cape Town, where he received a Certificate of Theory in Accounting (CTA) in 1975; and New York University, where he graduated with an MBA in 1982.

Professor Nkuhlu was the first black African to qualify as a chartered accountant (CA) in South Africa. Understanding the importance of increasing the number of black Africans in the accountancy profession, he returned to the University of Fort Hare in 1976 after serving articles with the auditing firm Hoek & Wiehahn. In 1978 he was appointed Head of the Department of Accounting at the University of Transkei. From 1976 to 1990 he combined his role as lecturer – initially at Fort Hare, and later at the University of Transkei – with his career as an auditor.

Having served as audit partner in charge of the Umtata office of Hoek & Wiehahn, he left to establish W L Nkuhlu & Company in Umtata (now Mthatha) in 1978. His commitment to the education of black chartered accountants was not limited to his formal teaching and in 1982 his audit practice produced two of the country s first five black African CAs. In 1984 he rejoined his old firm, now Wiehahn & Meyernel, as audit partner and remained there until the merger with Price Waterhouse in 1989.

Despite his growing professional practice his commitment to education never wavered and he assumed increasingly weighty positions in the academic world. In 1981 he was appointed Professor of Accounting at the University of Transkei. He became Vice-Principal of the university in 1983 and Principal and Vice-Chancellor in January 1987, a position he held for five years.

Professor Nkuhlu s long and active involvement in the development of human capacity in South Africa extends to the socio-economic advancement of the country and the region. From 1983 he became active in economic development, serving as a director of the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) until July 2000. In 1993 he became Chairman of the DBSA and chaired the Transformation Task Team appointed by the Minister of Finance to review the mandate and core business of the bank. The report of the task team was accepted by the Cabinet in June 1995 and became the basis for the new DBSA.

The respect in which Professor Nkuhlu is held amongst community based and non-governmental organisations and his profound understanding of developmental issues saw him appointed Chief Executive of the Independent Development Trust from 1992 to 1996.

He has added immeasurably to the deliberations of the many companies on whose boards he has served. From 1988 until 1997 he was a director of Standard Bank of South Africa; from 1993 to 2000 he served the Old Mutual and he sat on the board of BMW South Africa for five years. He was a director of Tong't Hulett for five years and BarlowRand for one. Between 1998 and 2000 he was a director and chairman of the boards of JCI and Western Areas. He chaired the National Empowerment Consortium bid for Johnnic, participating in all the major negotiations with the Anglo American Corporation.

Wiseman Nkuhlu's business career includes both his contribution to well-established corporate players and his entrepreneurial flair in establishing new ventures. He founded Worldwide African Investment Holdings (WAIH) together with three colleagues and served as its chairman from May 1995 to June 1997. During this period, WAIH made major investments in Plessey, Norwich, Zenex and Johnnic and concluded strategic relationships with major financial institutions. In July 1998 he established Midland Economic Equity Group (MEEG), an integrated financial services group with four subsidiaries, including MEEG Bank, which has branches in the Eastern Cape.

After his period in public service he resumed his position as a director of Old Mutual South Africa in 2005 and was appointed a director of Old Mutual (Plc) in London. He was also appointed a director of Kagiso Trust Investments. In July 2005 he established Pan African Capital Holdings and was the first chairman of its Board of Directors.

His contribution to national transformation has included serving as National President of the Black Management Forum for two terms. In 2000 Professor Nkuhlu resigned from all his company directorships when he was appointed Economic Advisor to the President of the Republic of South Africa.

In 2001 he became the first chairman of the Steering Committee and Chief Executive of the Secretariat for the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad). In this position he led the technical development of socio-economic renewal programmes for key areas, including Peace and Conflict Resolution, transport, boundary infrastructure, health and agriculture. Under Nepad's auspices Professor Nkuhlu led discussions between the African representatives and representatives of the G8 countries. He developed and implemented an advocacy and communication strategy to gain international support for the Nepad programme and developed a network of decision-makers in Africa and international agencies including the African Union, World Bank, United Nations and major business organisations such as the Commonwealth Business Council and the Corporate Council for Africa in the USA.

In April 1998 the Minister of Education appointed him chairman of the Council on Higher Education (CHE), a position he held until 2002. The CHE played a major role in the restructuring of universities and technikons.

Professor Nkuhlu has published a number of articles and presented papers at numerous conferences on socio-economic development issues. He served on the advisory councils of the International Finance Corporation (a member of the World Bank), the Foreign Policy Association and the Independent Newspaper Group.

He served two terms as President of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants and has received a number of awards for his leadership in business and education, including one from the Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants in 1990 and merit awards from the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and the Black Management Forum.

In December 1999, President Mbeki appointed him chairman of the Thabo Mbeki Development Fund for the Disabled.

A number of South African universities have recognised Professor Nkuhlu's extraordinary contribution to our country by awarding him honorary doctorates. Among them are the University of the Orange Free State, the University of Cape Town, The University of Pretoria, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and the University of Stellenbosch, which also appointed him Professor Emeritus in 2000. In 2004 the University of Fort Hare established the Nkuhlu Centre of Accounting in his honour.

Professor Nkuhlu's long and distinguished career demonstrates a unique balance between involvement in his profession, engagement with the business world, dedication to public service and development and devotion to academe.

In recognition of his remarkable contribution it is with great pride and pleasure that the University confers on Wiseman Lumkile Nkuhlu the degree of Doctorate of Economic Science honoris causa.