‘Please, don’t kill each other over projects’
Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani made a passionate plea to owners of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) to stop fighting and assassinating each other over tenders.
“Please! Please! Do not fight over projects. Don’t kill each other. If you have any problem in your ward regarding the projects that are allocated, your government is open 24 hours,” Bobani told a gathering of SMME owners at the City Hall on Monday afternoon.
“Talk to us. Don’t kill each other. You are brothers, don’t kill each other. Let us talk, the government is there for you. You must benefit from these projects.” The mayor’s comments come less than two weeks after budding businessman Khaya Fuleni 44, of Kwazakhele, was gunned down – allegedly over a dispute arising from the allocation of contract work for the R18m Njoli Square development project.
Fuleni was the chair of Ward 22 Business Forum, which had the authority to select SMMEs for phase one of the Njoli Square development.
However, his position was called into question when another group – the People Shall Share Business Forum – emerged in the same ward.
The second group demanded a change of leadership but Fuleni insisted that the two structures work parallel to each other and that work be shared on a 50/50 basis.
Fuleni, a director of SiyaMikuso Trading, was shot four times on October 3 while walking with a friend in Kwazakhele.
His two cellphones were left at the scene.
The Herald reported on Monday that detectives were investigating the squabble over the control of the forums as a possible motive for Fuleni’s killing.
Hundreds of SMME owners packed the City Hall’s auditorium on Monday to interact with Bobani, his mayoral committee and directors of various departments.
The SMME owners raised a range of issues, including that the system was skewed in favour of big, white businesses, and frustration with the city’s supply chain management system – which they argued should be disbanded.
Mkhululi Maganda, one of the SMME owners, said: “The metro’s budget is skewed – 80% goes to big companies, which are less than 20 in the metro, and the remaining 20% goes to people that are here. I don’t know the thinking.”
Another businessman, Baba Ningi, said since the dawn of democracy in SA, Monday’s event was the first time that SMMEs had been given the opportunity to sit down with the mayor and his committee.
Ningi said local businessmen were getting crumbs while the major share of projects went to big companies. He asked the metro’s new executive to change this.
The aim of the meeting was to afford the SMME owners the opportunity to share with the municipality’s executive the challenges and frustrations they encountered when doing business with the municipality.
“It’s time for our people to benefit. We are servicing all of our people. However, those who were previously marginalised must also be serviced and uplifted. You cannot remain an SMME forever. Tell us how do you want us to empower you and we will do it,” Bobani said.
He also said that he and his executive met with the leadership of National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (Nafcoc) a week ago and planned to meet the Nelson Mandela Business Chamber to facilitate closer co-operation.
“This government took a decision to empower the previously disadvantaged. We want you to be fully fledged contractors. We are going to do that unapologetically. This is the reason we called you today,” Bobani said.
Andile Lungisa, the city’s head of infrastructure, engineering and electricity, echoed Bobani’s sentiments.
Lungisa warned directors in the municipality to comply with the executive’s political directives and toe the line.
“We cannot be apologetic. If we talk about transformation it must be led by [political] leadership,” Lungisa said.