Small business demands bigger share of tenders
Small business owners in Nelson Mandela Bay are demanding a bigger stake in contracts from the municipality, saying at least half of all tenders must be awarded to SMMEs.
Of the 50%, at least 30% must be for black-owned SMMEs, some leaders said at an SMME Indaba on Tuesday.
Currently, the city’s supply chain policy states that 30% of contracts must go to SMMEs.
Baba Ningi, convener of the black business caucus in the Bay, said: “I’m not sure the leadership [is clear on why we are here]. We are not here to discuss the 30% because that is already ours. We want 50%.
“We are not going to listen to [executive director of economic development, tourism and agriculture Anele] Qaba and supply chain.
“In fact, we are going to ask the municipality to remove them because [for over a decade] that department has never assisted us, no-one has ever benefited from EDTA.”
The indaba, held at the Feather Market Centre, was attended by hundreds of small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Also speaking on behalf of SMMEs, Lithemba Singaphi, co-ordinator of the black business caucus, said that it was sad to have administrators who sought to keep the status quo.
“What should have happened is that [we were meant to meet] and engage with them before this indaba so that we give them what we [SMMEs] intended to discuss here.
“What we intend to change is sectoral participation of business opportunities at a level of the percentage that was indicated [by mayor Mongameli Bobani who – when he was appointed – said] 90% of that must come to us.
“We are lenient to say we will consider 50% and [above] but nothing less. Part of what we intend to discuss is unlocking the big potential of this 140km of our coastline which is the ocean economy – a matter that was not even represented here,” Singaphi said.
He emphasised that there was a serious need for an SMME desk at Kwantu Towers and that the government could not separate retail from the township economy.
“The government is so loud in talking about the township economy.
“You cannot separate the retail with township people because it is the backbone of our people in the townships.
“If the municipality does not regulate that industry to ensure that foreign nationals do not flood our townships and convert RDP houses without applying any bylaws, then you are not talking township economy,” Singaphi said.
Another crowd favourite was councillor Andile Lungisa, who said he was acting mayor while Bobani and his deputy, Thsonono Buyeye, were out of town on council business.
One attendee shouted “Lungisa for mayor” after he gave a stellar welcoming speech and later called out the hosts for being disorganised.
“We cannot come to a meeting to come and discuss catering, agendas and [hand out copies of policies],” he said.
“If you don’t understand basic issues and buy into this agenda, we will just release the whole department of EDTA, including its own MMC.
“We need to establish how many factories and firms there are here in the metro. If we have 1,500, we must make sure that each SMME is assigned to a firm or factory and through long negotiations where people are not working.
“Businesses are running away from transformation and sometimes transformation needs to be forced. We cannot negotiate forever.”
In closing, Lungisa said all recommendations and rejections regarding the SMME policy would be considered.
“The policy will be tabled in an ordinary council meeting in the first week of December where it will be adopted as a guiding document in the municipality and all departments will implement the policy.”
He said following the adoption of the policy there would be a follow-up indaba in January with external stakeholders such as Coega, the department of small businesses and minister of fisheries.
“What we are [also] putting forward is to stick to the 50-50 split [for contracts] which is stipulated in the [draft] policy.”