SMME own­ers de­mand work

The Herald (South Africa) - - Front Page - No­maz­ima Nkosi nkosino@ti­soblack­star.co.za

Hun­dreds of small busi­ness own­ers con­verged on the mu­nic­i­pal of­fices and de­manded con­tracts from the Nel­son Man­dela Bay mu­nic­i­pal­ity on Wed­nes­day.

They com­plained they had not re­ceived any work from the mu­nic­i­pal­ity all year and were des­per­ate for jobs as the fes­tive sea­son was ap­proach­ing.

Meli Kondile, from KwaNobuhle, said dif­fer­ent clus­ters of SMMEs in the metro had de­cided to come to­gether in the hope that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity would fi­nally lis­ten to their cries and give them work, even from pri­vate com­pa­nies.

“The prob­lem is there is no work be­cause, if there were projects or jobs avail­able for us, you wouldn’t see so many peo­ple here, and this is a sign that there aren’t jobs,” Kondile said.

He said his com­pany was his only source of in­come and not hav­ing projects meant his fam­ily would go hun­gry.

Kondile said he hoped that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity would change its pol­icy that 30% of work must go to SMMEs and in­crease it to 50%.

“If you look at what we get for that 30%, a lot of money goes to the main con­trac­tor and for the amount of work we do, the money we get is not enough.

“If you give us 50%, we’d be able to in­vest that money in other busi­nesses or save it.”

SMME owner and sub­sis­tence farmer Non­ceba Moyo, 75, said they wanted the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to as­sist them with jobs as they were starv­ing and with the year al­most over, they had noth­ing in their pock­ets.

“We are not toyi-toy­ing but we just want to work.

“Projects are scarce be­cause there are too many SMMEs [in the metro] now – they have ex­panded and ev­ery­one is look­ing for work,” she said.

Moyo said as an older per­son she found she was be­ing un­der­mined by younger busi­ness own­ers and had been told by some to re­tire and stay at home.

“[The youth] ask us why aren’t we at home look­ing af­ter our grand­chil­dren, what are we do­ing here?

“And yet it’s us who bat­tled to get the coun­try to where it is to­day,” Moyo said.

“It’s us who changed the at­ti­tude of gov­ern­ment be­cause we pres­surised them to re­lease Nel­son Man­dela and we had the state of emer­gency and the con­sumer boy­cotts.”

Moyo said there were a lot of chal­lenges faced by SMMEs.

“I don’t want to be a mil­lion­aire but all I want is to man­age my life.

“I look af­ter my grand­chil­dren, my sib­lings and my fam­ily so they can’t say I must sit down, be­cause I’ve got a lot of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties,” she said.

Dur­ing an SMME ind­aba held at the Feather Mar­ket Cen­tre last week, busi­ness own­ers said they wanted at least half of the ten­ders awarded by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to go to SMMEs, and of that at least 30% must be awarded to black­owned SMMEs.

The city’s sup­ply chain pol­icy states that 30% of con­tracts must go to SMMEs.

On Wed­nes­day, act­ing mu­nic­i­pal man­ager Nox­olo Nqwazi said of­fi­cials had ex­plained the na­tional pol­icy and the city’s sup­ply chain pol­icy to the SMMEs at the ind­aba.

“Some [were] not in agree­ment with how we give work and [com­plained] pro­cesses are too slow for them and there [were] de­part­ments not co-op­er­at­ing.

“I’m go­ing to have a meet­ing with ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tors and we’ll pro­vide feed­back.

“What­ever we do, we want to make sure that we com­ply with the na­tional pol­icy and the pol­icy of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity whilst pro­vid­ing work.”

Asked if the city would ever be able to meet the de­mand of all the SMMEs, Nqwazi said: “I don’t think so”.

“But we must just make an ef­fort of com­ply­ing and mon­i­tor whether all de­part­ments com­ply with the sup­ply chain pol­icy in terms of pro­vid­ing work to SMMEs.”

Nqwazi said the is­sue was there seemed to be a be­lief that the 30% only ap­plied to con­struc­tion work in the city, whereas this was not the case.

“It’s not con­struc­tion only but it’s also on other ser­vices re­quired by the city. For in­stance, we buy toi­let pa­per, print­ing pa­per, it’s a straight pro­cure­ment is­sue.”

Pic­ture: WERNER HILLS

WE WANT OUR SHARE: SMME own­ers, from left, Linda Metekli, 72, Faniswa Booi, 59, and Non­ceba Moyo, 75, gather at the act­ing city man­ager’s of­fice in St George’s Park to voice their con­cerns

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