‘Jobs the leading priority’

Following years of protests, project disruptions and complaints by small business owners that they could never really benefit from big contracts, the tide is about to turn, according to Nelson Mandela Bay’s new political leadership.

Mayor Athol Trollip and his deputy, Mongameli Bobani, are adamant they will ensure the city supports SMMEs to benefit from the bulk of municipal tenders.

Their first point of call would be to ensure the metro pays SMMEs within the 30-day time-frame for jobs completed.

Organised black business in the Bay has in the past complained that the tendering system was structured in such a way that only major companies could really benefit from construction tenders.

Trollip said he had met with representatives from black-owned SMMEs who complained that the municipality was dragging its heels in processing invoices.

“The past ANC-led government has crippled many SMMEs because they just didn’t pay them . . . or they gave them jobs that they couldn’t deliver on, and they weren’t paid and have become bankrupted by this organisation.

“We are going to use the City of Cape Town as a blueprint.

“The deputy mayor and I – and some of the mayoral committee members – have already had a meeting with a delegation from the Western Cape government to come and talk to us about how to deal with certain issues,” Trollip said.

In the Western Cape, about 76% of all contracts up to R100-million were awarded to black-owned SMMEs, he said. “We are going to transport that here. “We are going to make sure we put out contracts from the city – capacitate them so they can be successful in delivery and not go bankrupt.”

Bobani said the aim was for black-owned SMMEs to be fully fledged contractors, so they could also do huge contracts.

The two also vowed to ensure the administration would cut down on tender deviations, which – they believed – was a loophole for corruption to creep in.

They urged black business federations and forums to work with the city to try to build the economy and create jobs.

Trollip said: “It is said that if you ride a tiger, you’d better be careful and hold on – that’s why it is safer to ride a horse.

“We are going to be a horse they can ride – dependable, long-term and reliable. Not a tiger that will take you on an exciting ride that, if you fall off, it will eat you.

“I want to meet with those organisations – we haven’t met with them – but I want to make a commitment,” Trollip said. “Our priority is to create jobs. “Any person who can help us to create jobs, we will work with them every single way we can.”

Bobani agreed, saying: “We are not interested in which organisations these forums support.

“We will treat them as professional business people. Let them come and let us all work together and let’s all make sure we build the city, create jobs.”

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