Six businesses in Nelson Mandela Bay, which are collectively owed close to R500 000 by communications firm Mohlaleng Media, are battling to stay afloat, with some saying they even had to shed jobs.
A couple of the companies had to take out loans to pay their suppliers.
All six of the companies – Milnex 53, Function Warehouse, Adhoc Productions, Phoenix Consulting, Ntando Tours and Bukani Print – are relatively small operations which can ill-afford to write off thousands of rands owed to them.
The companies, which spoke to The Herald, were all sub-contracted by Mohlaleng Media to provide various services on behalf of the municipality.
The jobs included printing, catering, transport, decor and videography, among other things. Some of the companies say they were owed for work carried out as far back as March and June last year.
Others, however, provided services this year. Mohlaleng Media chairman Mbuso Thabethe said their records showed that the companies were owed about R200 000.
“Many of the service providers have already received part-payments,” he said.
“Outstanding balances in most instances are less than 50% of what was due. ”
“It is important to stress that we value our supply partners and service providers immensely, and it has never been our intention for this situation to occur.”
“We have, however, started to deal with it and will continue to do so until every account is cleared.”
“We are working on a plan on how and when exactly that will be achieved.” Invoices and some letters of demand from attorneys, seen by The Herald, show:
They felt the metro had a “moral duty” to ensure Mohlaleng paid them.
Alan Taylor, of Bukani Print, said: “They will come to us at the last minute and say they need this or that printed urgently, and we do it in good faith because we don’t want egg on the face of the municipality. ”
“Most of us still want to do business with the municipality and I think Mohlaleng uses that as a bargaining chip.”
“We ’ve had to go to the bank to get a loan. Last year we missed two VAT returns.” Sharon Viljoen, of Milnex 53, said her company had to retrench three staff members because they were battling to meet their obligations. ”
“We ’re a small business and we’ve had to borrow money. “T here’s just a blatant disregard for us as local businesses,” she said.
Viljoen said she had since refused to do work forMohlaleng unless the money was paid upfront.
Melisa Ebrahim, of Phoenix Consulting, said she had to cut back on staff and adjust her lifestyle to keep her company afloat.
“We all know each other and we talk. They [Mohlaleng] have been paid, so there is no reason why we haven’t been paid.”
Noxolo Colani, of Ntando Tours and Transport, said the trust relationship they had with the city was now broken.
“Now, with any job we do, we need proof of payment before we move,” Colani said.
Jerome Smith, of Adhoc Productions, said the situation ruined relationships with their suppliers because they struggled to meet their commitments.
Acting city manager Johann Mettler said while the contracts were between Mohlaleng and the various companies, the municipality would facilitate a resolution of the matter.