Lafarge South Africa’s chairperson steps down.


After two terms of office, the inspirational chairperson of Lafarge South Africa, Nonkqubela Mazwai, has stepped down and handed over the reins to Thandi Orleyn, previously a non-executive director of Lafarge Mining South Africa and Lafarge Industries South Africa.

A major player in the South African building materials industry, Lafarge South Africa is the local presence of the international Lafarge Group, the world leader in building materials. The group’s brand baseline, “Building better cities”, which was introduced in 2013, reflects its ambition to contribute innovative solutions to building cities that are desirable, sustainable and beautiful living environments accessible to all people.

Diversity and gender equity
“I am passionate about people and people are a company,” says Mazwai. “Joining Lafarge South Africa in 2007 was a wonderful opportunity to change perceptions regarding transformation and contribute to making a difference.”

One of her first challenges and also one of her more satisfying achievements was dealing with the reality of the diversity in the company and getting the different cultures to work better together and communicate more effectively.

Mazwai and her fellow women directors made it clear that they were not on the board merely in a token affirmative action role. “We were business partners and had an important part to play,” asserts Mazwai. “One key contribution was to align the company more closely with the government in order to achieve high levels of compliance with the laws of the land and, in doing so, attain security of tenure and the social licence for Lafarge to operate in South Africa.”

Fostering leadership, development
During her tenure, development of a local talent pool was an identified priority as South Africa was short of mature executive managers with overseas experience.

Mazwai also facilitated significant investments in education and community development around the Lafarge operating sites. Relationships with many such communities had to be improved and a new strategy was required.

In terms of social investment, emphasis was placed on auditable results, accountability and the fact that funding could not be open-ended.  

Another fundamental change has been the restructuring of the group structure on a country basis. Two years down the line, the country structure is increasingly producing efficiencies and generating extra business from its more customer-focused approach under the leadership of the country chief executive officer, Thierry Legrand. “There is now more pride in being a unified South African entity that has responsibility for and is accountable for its destiny,” she says.

“With the building blocks in place for a successful future for Lafarge in South Africa, I am delighted to be handing over to Thandi Orleyn. She is a warm, approachable person and a high achiever who is already familiar with the company’s ambitions,” adds Mazwai.

“For my part, I am passionate about the future of the mining industry in this country and will continue to serve as deputy chairman of the ministerial advisory board, while deciding what new challenges to undertake.”

Lafarge South Africa
Tel: 011 657 0000