NELSON Mandela Bay mayor Zanoxolo Wayile has established a team to urgently tackle the problems faced by northern areas businesses.
Estate agents, caterers, store owners and music and arts promoters met the mayor yesterday to discuss issues including late and non-payment for services rendered, exclusion from lucrative tender opportunities and the lack of funding for upliftment projects.
Wayile, who has an office at the Cleary Park Shopping Centre where the meeting was held, said he hoped to galvanise social partners in an effort to take the northern areas forward.
“When I opened my office here I made a promise that it would not be a case of people only seeing me at the opening and then never again. I am here and I want to continually engage with the stakeholders in the northern areas,” Wayile said. “I do not see this as an issue of colour. It is the constant battle between the working class and those who hold the monopoly. We will work together to reach a favourable solution for all.”
Businessman Basil Leverment said businessmen were at a disadvantage because they were not awarded tenders. This resulted in financial difficulty which made it hard for them to make regular payments on rates and taxes.
“If you are in arrears with your payments, you cannot tender for any contracts. I want to request that this rule be revisited.”
Business consultant John Joseph said he had a problem with contracts being awarded to big contractors on a 60%-40% ratio. “The 40% is always given to the smaller companies who have to employ large numbers of people. If you look around in the northern areas, you will notice that white contractors are working on all of the big projects.
“The people who get these contracts are normally aligned to the decision-makers in the municipality,” he said.
Craig Herman of the Gelvandale Spar said he supplied groceries to the ward discretionary fund, but despite going to the mayor’s office on numerous occasions and all of his invoices and other paperwork being in order, the municipality had owed him money for more than 1½ years.
“I am disgruntled because they simply expect you to wait for your money. They still have the nerve to issue new purchase orders,” Herman said.
“I am quite happy not to do business with you [the municipality] anymore. This is not empowerment.”
Bilson Music chief executive Billy Paulson told Wayile the municipality had not contributed a cent towards the annual Northern Arts Festival in six years.