Bongani Nqwababa a former joint-CEO at Sasol who was dismissed for mismanaging the company’s US-based Lake Charles Chemicals project has recently been appointed as a board member of the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA). We at are concerned by this appointment and urge DBSA management to be cautious over the appointment of Mr. Nqwababa, who has led the financial management of some of the world’s most polluting fossil fuel companies, including Shell in Southern Africa. 

While the DBSA has in recent years gradually firmed up its ambitions to combat climate change, the absence of a fossil fuel exclusion policy and appointment of a climate conflicted executive – with extensive ties to companies that have deliberately delayed action against climate change could potentially jeopardize the integrity of the  DBSA’s climate commitments. It is our hope that the bank’s management will not be swayed from their progressive support of a just transition by board-level appointments. 

The Finance In Common Summit (FIC) is an opportunity for public finance institutions like the DBSA and Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to strengthen their climate commitments through a fossil fuel exclusion policy.

The FIC Summit is the first global summit of all public development banks and is taking place in Paris. About 440 development agencies (making up 10% of annual global investment), including all the Export Credit Agencies, multilateral banks, will all get together for the first time in history to discuss recovery from COVID and the climate crisis. Its aim is “to address the common need to build new forms of prosperity that take care of people and planet.” It is convened by the French development agency, AFD, with the support of the United Nations Secretary-General and French President Emmanuel Macron. calls on the DBSA as well as the IDC to join leading public finance institutions in announcing a joint statement around ending fossil fuel financing, aligning their financing with the Paris Agreement, and supporting a just transition away from fossil fuels at FIC in November 2020. 

South Africa’s public finance institutions need to urgently commit to stop handing out public money to fossil fuel projects. They should instead take bold action at FIC, and acknowledge that failure to do so threatens to entrench fossil fuel financing and accelerates the climate crisis.