SMME business forum secures secret slice of Ironman pie after threats
Business forum secures work worth R875,000
A secret deal has revealed how dozens of small businesses that threatened to halt the 2019 Ironman African Championship have been given six work packages worth a combined R875,000 – for physical labour and cultural entertainment.
The money will be divided between 60 people managed by the Summerstrand Business Forum.
This is according to an agreement signed by Ironman SA director Keith Bowler and Summerstrand Business Forum chair Khusela Mqoboli.
But since the deal was sealed on Friday, even more small businesses are demanding a slice of the pie.
The agreement comes after the staging of the event this coming Sunday was cloaked in uncertainty for most of last week, with a site in Summerstrand left abandoned.
The forum represents SMMEs in Summerstrand, Humewood, Walmer, Lorraine and Seaview – all areas through which the route for the Ironman event runs.
About 62 nations will be represented at the event, with athletes from at least nine African countries among the nearly 2,000 expected this weekend.
Mqoboli said he was happy with the agreement reached.
This, after Ironman SA had reneged on a promise in 2018 to incorporate the SMMEs into Sunday’s event, he said.
“We have minutes from last year specifying all that.
“They did not honour that agreement, which led us to this agreement,” Mqoboli said.
“We had to fight for our percent of the work.”
He said the money was coming directly from Ironman SA. “We are very happy with the agreement signed.”
Bowler said: “Our aim during this time was to find a solution that was beneficial to both parties in order to ensure a successful event.
“We respect confidentiality with all service providers and this agreement is no different – our focus is now on creating the best possible event experience for our athletes this coming weekend.”
According to the agreement, five teams of six people will carry out the physical labour, which will include work on fencing, scaffolding, barrier placements and cleaning.
Each of the five teams will be paid R145,833.33.
“The nature of the services will include physical labour and the teams should be physically capable of rendering such services,” the agreement states.
“Teams may also be required to provide certain equipment such as rakes, spades and the like.”
The five teams started work on Friday – the same day the agreement was signed – and stop on Wednesday next week.
A sixth team of 30 people will supply cultural entertainment along the route in Walmer at the spectator zone on the race days.
For this, the team will receive a combined R145,833.33.
“Each team will be required to work with and follow the direction and instruction of the contractor to whom the team is assigned, alternatively, follow the direction of Ironman where instructions are given directly.” The 60 people will also attend a VIP do after the event on Sunday and the prizegiving on Monday.
Payments will be withheld should there be any further disruptions by the forum.
“It is a condition of this agreement that the event will take place in the usual, business-like manner,” the contract states.
Ironman SA also agreed to work with the forum going forward for 2020, 2021 and 2022 if the city retained the event.
This will be in the form of mentorship for the upskilling of the forum members.
“Ironman and the [forum] will request and involve the municipality to assist in the development of such a programme,” the agreement says.
The municipality’s executive director of sports, recreation, arts and culture, Noxolo Nqwazi, said the city had acted as a mediator in the discussions between Ironman and the SMME forum.
She said the R875,000 was additional money that Ironman would be giving to its main contractors to accommodate the SMMEs as sub-contractors.
The SMMEs would be involved in erecting the scaffolding, fencing, cleaning and the provision of tents, ablution facilities and security.
Nqwazi said Ironman SA had agreed in 2018 to include SMMEs in the negotiations for the 2019 event, but had reneged on that promise.
“There was a lack of willingness on Ironman’s part and with that you open yourself up for a bigger risk because the route goes through communities and you have to engage the communities.
“It’s not doing what it’s supposed to do to ensure SMMEs participate,” she said.
“We’re coming to the end of the three-year agreement.
“For the next three years, we want to see a proper agreement with Ironman and SMMEs participating.
“They’ve been doing this for 15 years so they cannot keep saying this is a specialised service.
“There must be a legacy and a willingness to make sure they develop SMMEs and ensure they participate.”
Nqwazi said that since the agreement was signed last week, two more groups had come forward wanting to know why they had been excluded.
She said they were still in talks with them.
The details of the agreement were ironed out at a meeting on Thursday afternoon, with the document signed on Friday. Municipal, Ironman SA and some forum officials attended.
“The business forum played hardball and got everything it wanted at the meeting,” one of the officials present at the meeting said.
He said while the contract had been passed around at the meeting, no-one had been given a copy to keep.
On Friday, the municipality announced that the event would go ahead as planned – but the details around the R875,000 were not made public.
Mqoboli said at the time that they had come to an agreement with Ironman SA that space would be created for SMMEs to become service providers for future events.
Asked whether the agreement would include a financial payment, Mqoboli said: “This Ironman [contract] ends this year [April].
“So the city will have to negotiate another agreement.”
For the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in 2018, the forum received R500,000 in September.
This, after the disgruntled business owners threatened to shut down sites for the event.
Each of the areas – Summerstrand, Humewood, Walmer, Lorraine and Seaview – were allocated R100,000.