SMME deaths linked to patronage – Oscar Mabuyane
Lives were lost because of patronage and not following the rule of law when awarding the R21m Nelson Mandela Bay drain-cleaning tender to small businesses, ANC Eastern Cape boss Oscar Mabuyane said.
Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting in Port Elizabeth between ANC provincial leaders and the party’s Bay caucus, he said the ANC could no longer sit back and allow people to continue killing each other over municipal resources.
“We can’t allow what’s been happening in Nelson Mandela [Bay] to continue.
“Whether it’s gangsterism, which is on the rise, young people being killed every day by stray bullets or people fighting each other for resources that are probably being arranged through an element of patronage.
“[The] government must be respected and ensure things are being done according to the law,” Mabuyane said at the Garden Court Kings Beach hotel, where the meeting was held on Monday.
“We’re uncomfortable [with] some of the things we’ve seen and the issue of patronage here probably would have resulted in things not being followed according to the law.
“We’ve lost the lives of SMME [owners] because of how things have been done and it’s a regrettable situation.
“Some of the things that have happened here are the antithesis of the ANC.”
The municipality awarded the R21m drain-cleaning project in December.
It used two Bay companies – Finecorp and JK Structures – which were already on its supply database and had existing contracts with the city.
Finecorp and JK Structures then signed a cession on December 13 with Sholden Lukwe Construction and Mbumba Project Managers to manage and pay the SMMEs.
According to a leaked audit report compiled by JK Structures and Finecorp, more than R4m of the money meant for SMMEs is unaccounted for.
In January, dozens of SMME owners gathered outside the Port Elizabeth City Hall and the Uitenhage Town Hall claiming that some had not been paid.
That same month, SMME contractor and Black Business Caucus co-ordinator Baba Ningi was gunned down outside a Zwide butchery.
He was one of a number of people murdered in the city in what police suspect was a killing spree linked to infighting by the SMMEs.
Meanwhile, Mabuyane said that with 50 ANC councillors in the council, the ANC should do better in terms of providing services for residents.
“We are still in control of many wards in this municipality and we believe we should do better than what we’re doing,” he said.
“There’s no stumbling block to achieving this, but we need to bring back that revolutionary discipline to the comrades here [for] people to understand what the ANC expects from every individual.” Referring to the “non-performance” of the coalition, Mabuyane said coalitions were not a permanent solution.
“The people of Nelson Mandela Bay are ready for coherent leaders with political stability and policy certainty.
“There’s an element of nonperformance on a number of critical areas as far as infrastructure is concerned.
“We’re worried that Nelson Mandela [Bay] missed two critical meetings convened by the MEC of finance on issues of spending because, moving forward, we can’t coexist with fruitless, wasteful and irregular expenditure.”
The municipality had only spent about 35% of its capital budget for infrastructure by the end of February with only four months left of the financial year.
Responding to Mabuyane’s comments, Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani – whose party the UDM is a member of the coalition – said he was more than happy to compile a comprehensive report on how well the coalition was doing.
“The coalition government is performing well,” he said.
“It’s done better than the previous DA-led coalition and it’s doing better than other municipalities in the province such as Buffalo City municipality, Enoch Mgijima local municipality and Amathole district municipality.”..