Ebrahim Kharsany

Ebrahim Kharsany

Current title
Research Analyst; Marketing Manager; Management Consultant

Course at Wits Business School
Master of Business Administration, 1972

A defining moment in my career
As an activist and a businessman, I experienced several defining moments in my career. I completed my MBA at Wits Business School in 1971. I could not find any meaningful employment as the predominantly white corporate business sector would not employ people of colour in senior management positions. 

After spending a few years in the life assurance industry I established my own company which over several years lobbied the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) for a bank license. My application was approved in September 1988 and I established South Africa’s first Islamic Bank. This was a defining moment for me.

Then as part of the Old Mutual / Nedbank scenarios of 1992-1993, I was appointed head of the Small Business Initiative which advocated support for small business and the abolition of restrictive trade legislation, a second defining moment.

A third was my submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in September 1997, where I was the only businessman at the TRC hearing who criticised the white business sector for its role in supporting the apartheid regime and being involved in sanctions-busting and arms procurement. I also criticised the SARB for advancing a controversial soft loan to Absa Bank Limited.

Another defining moment was in preventing evictions as secretary of the Save Pageview Association, which successfully prevented the forceful eviction of the Pageview families. Pageview was the only suburb in South Africa which, although declared a White Group Area in 1963, remained as South Africa’s first mixed-race suburb. President Nelson Mandela visited me in late 1993. I told him several anecdotes from the Pageview battle.

Finally, I was an executive committee member of the Stop the Highway Committee which successfully stopped the Johannesburg City Council from constructing a section of the highway from Auckland Park through De La Ray Street in Pageview and Princess Street in Mayfair. The highway would have caused the demolition of mosques, churches, temples, schools and houses in Pageview and Mayfair. These are some of the moments which have defined my career.

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