FOR African business people of NMB, private sector business opportunities will remain “pie in the sky”. We have seen numerous big projects in the Bay done by the private sector and no participation of our local African businesses.
African businesses are on their own in this fight for economic participation and transformation as our leaders in the Bay are quiet. Nafcoc is also not doing enough to be vocal on this crisis.
It is supposed to be the loudest voice in pushing for economic transformation and development of African businesses.
The private sector has a role to play in developing our African people in business. Until then we will remain labourers of our white counterparts in business.
This cannot remain the status quo, especially when these big businesses still continue to seek work from government yet remain untransformed and untouchable.
A number of big private projects are being undertaken in the metro by these big companies with no real black company empowered besides labour, including: FNB Newton Park, The Boardwalk, NMMU, Ke Nako Mall, Walmer Park mall, FAW and Aspen. The Baywest mall is a new development and black business is in negotiations for work.
With these projects being undertaken for private businesses, we fully understand that the developers have an interest in getting the best quality and price, and delivering the project in good time. However developers have a responsibility to ensure that they take part in the socio-economic upliftment of black businesses and people in their projects.
Our main challenge is with the contractors of these projects who seem to think that they are immune from sharing, transforming and developing emerging African businesses.
These big players seem to only be interested in some form of empowerment when it comes to government projects but never with private jobs.
Even in government jobs they always want to reduce us to being labour brokers in their projects while they skim all the fat from the most profitable aspects of any project. Therefore where an African business could potentially grow in terms of financial benefit, training, development and upskilling, we only supply our labour.
Another frustration of black businesses is to find themselves alone in this battle. The ruling party itself in our region is mum on the matter.
Leaders of the ruling party (national, provincial and regional) become non-executive directors of these big companies to secure work and to protect the interest of the big companies.
There are two ways of gaining work for any contractor: private sector work or government tenders. Now that our white counterparts have excluded black business completely in obtaining private sector work, with government work, these big corporates use collusion to secure work only for themselves and their partners. such as happened with Aveng, Basil Read, Murray & Roberts, WBHO, Group Five, Construction ID and Power Construction with the 2010 soccer World Cup infrastructure projects.
How many other projects have not been uncovered where these businesses have colluded? How can we ever trust them?
This then reduces the chances for emerging contractors in the public sector to grow and develop. If our ANC-led government does not address urgently these challenges with regard to economic participation of emerging black businesses in the private sector by forcing the big businesses to share the work, we will experience youth, woman in business and society being disgruntled and the emergence of so-called political parties fighting for economic participation by seizing land, banks and mines through violent methods.
There will also be political and economic instability in our region and group formations that are not affiliated to any business formation and who no longer trust the system and the government in providing fair representation in economic activity and who address challenges violently.
Our efforts to address these challenges in the private sector were done through engagement with the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber under the leadership of Mandla Madwaraand unfortunately didn’t bear fruit. We are still engaging with the big companies for the contracts they are busy with in the Bay.
Black business participation is not linked to BBBEE certificates. We are referring to companies that are locally registered, managed and owned by black African people.
We appeal to the private sector consciously to listen and that will assist in understanding that we all want to contribute to the economic transformation of this city and to opportunities.
Litemba Singapi, Nelson Mandela Metro