SMME owners demand work
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.”
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