SMMEs wait­ing on coun­cil for jobs

● A king­maker is not a ‘democ­racy-maker’, ‘con­sen­sus-fin­der’, ‘poverty-en­der’ or ‘job-cre­ator’

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - News - No­maz­ima Nkosi [email protected]­soblack­star.co.za

SMMEs in Nel­son Man­dela Bay are pin­ning their hopes of hav­ing a “good Christ­mas” on the next coun­cil meet­ing, meant to sit on Tues­day, after of­fi­cials who are sup­posed to ap­prove work pack­ages did not turn up for work again on Fri­day.

The small busi­ness own­ers gath­ered out­side the City Hall in an at­tempt to en­sure work pack­ages were signed off, but fol­low­ing a meet­ing with act­ing mu­nic­i­pal man­ager Peter Neil­son, it was agreed to leave it to the coun­cil to de­cide.

The SMMEs are de­mand­ing to be given work, with of­fi­cials in­structed to ap­prove the ap­point­ment of 600 SMMEs to clean drains at a cost of R18m.

Black busi­ness cau­cus co-or­di­na­tor Lithemba Sin­gaphi con­firmed they had met Neil­son but be­cause of the “re­volt by of­fi­cials in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity against the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship” they had de­cided to let the coun­cil de­cide.

“There is some­thing com­ing on Tues­day.

“Our is­sues were ad­dressed by the act­ing mu­nic­i­pal man­ager be­cause all le­gal pro­cesses to get these projects were fol­lowed.

“Ev­ery­one has agreed the mat­ter will be taken to coun­cil and it will be ap­proved by a ma­jor­ity vote.

“We know the DA won’t agree to it be­cause it doesn’t care about SMME growth.

“We don’t care about the DA,” Sin­gaphi said.

On Thurs­day, hun­dreds of SMMEs shut down two of the city’s main ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ings – Lil­lian Died­er­icks and Mfanasekhaya Gqo­bose – in Port El­iz­a­beth’s Go­van Mbeki Av­enue, pre­vent­ing of­fi­cials from re­port­ing for work.

The po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship has in­structed of­fi­cials to take R18m meant for in­fras­truc­ture projects and tem­po­rary Ex­panded Pub­lic Works Pro­gramme jobs to ac­com­mo­date 600 SMMEs that have de­manded work be­fore Christ­mas.

On Thurs­day, of­fi­cials were nowhere to be found when SMMEs were pil­ing on the pres­sure for work pack­ages.

The metro has al­ready cleaned stormwa­ter drains around the city this fi­nan­cial year, and has spent 70% of its bud­get on this.

Sin­gaphi said the SMMEs could not be given the work pack­ages un­til in­fras­truc­ture and engi­neer­ing ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Wal­ter Shaidi signed it off be­cause “the ser­vices needed are in his de­part­ment and we can’t by­pass him”.

Although Shaidi is on sick leave, Sin­gaphi ac­cused him of run­ning around.

Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani said the mat­ter was out of the politi­cians’ hands and it was now up to of­fi­cials to deal with it.

Neil­son said all that was left to do was for the coun­cil to ap­prove the R18m.

Neil­son said of­fi­cials had iden­ti­fied projects that the SMMEs would un­der­take and that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity did not want to use grant fund­ing al­lo­cated for dif­fer­ent projects.

“The se­cond phase would be to legally ap­point con­trac­tors through a sec­tion 32 pro­cure­ment process . . . ” Neil­son said.

King­maker. It’s a sexy word used to de­scribe sexy peo­ple, trans­port­ing us into a wood­pan­elled, cigar-scented world in which Ralph Fi­ennes, Michael Fass­ben­der and the sweary Scot from The Thick of It trade ex­quis­ite barbs over who should be­come the next min­is­ter of for­eign af­fairs.

In SA, the word de­scribes slightly less sexy peo­ple, un­less your kink in­volves hyp­ocrites in red over­alls tweet­ing veiled threats to jour­nal­ists.

The word, how­ever, has re­tained its ap­peal – on Thurs­day it was in the head­lines yet again, as an amaBhun­gane in­ves­ti­ga­tion hinted at dirty deal­ings in Jo­han­nes­burg, where the lo­cal “king­mak­ers” al­legedly made the DA an of­fer it could not refuse.

Yes, we’ll be hear­ing about “king­mak­ers” for as long as creak­ing big par­ties need noisy and op­por­tunis­tic small ones.

Which is why, I think, it might be use­ful to take a mo­ment and look at the word it­self.

Not the po­lit­i­cal con­text. Not the cur­rent cir­cus of fic­ti­tious Cana­dian bank ac­counts and me­dia boy­cotts and all the other te­dious per­for­mance of op­po­si­tion pol­i­tics.

Let’s just look at the word, and, for per­haps the first time in years, think about what it’s say­ing, and how per­fectly it de­scribes cur­rent SA pol­i­tics.

The thing that strikes me first about the word “king­maker” is all the words that it isn’t.

It isn’t, for ex­am­ple, “democ­racy-maker”, or “con­sen­sus­finder”, or “poverty-en­der” or “job-cre­ator”.

No. It’s “king­maker”: a per­son or party who, through its ac­tions or in­flu­ence, causes a new king to be crowned. And what is a king?

A king, through­out al­most all of recorded his­tory, is a per­son who is un­touch­able and unim­peach­able.

A king is God’s right hand on Earth, with the power of life and death, and a di­vine right to do what­ever he wants and to never have to ex­plain his whims. The peo­ple who live un­der his con­trol are not cit­i­zens: they are sub­jects.

Al­most with­out ex­cep­tion, he is a per­son who be­comes fan­tas­ti­cally wealthy by tax­ing the poor in his king­dom, of­ten to death.

He may con­fis­cate prop­erty from those he per­ceives as en­e­mies and hand it to those he be­lieves are friends. If he in­dulges in pol­i­tics, per­haps by es­tab­lish­ing some sort of servile par­lia­ment, it is to en­trench his own power and that of his syco­phants.

It is very, very rare that a king serves his peo­ple.

But there is one sub­ject who serves the com­mon good even less. And that is the king­maker.

A king­maker by def­i­ni­tion puts per­sonal po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions ahead of the needs of the coun­try. Pa­tron­age, not pa­tri­o­tism, is paramount.

He is also, by def­i­ni­tion, two-faced: he will sell his prin­ci­ples in a heart­beat if it means get­ting a foot in the door of power, trum­pet­ing that suc­hand-such a party is racist or cor­rupt while forg­ing al­liances with it.

Yes, we’ll be read­ing plenty about king­mak­ers in the com­ing months, as if they are nor­mal or be­nign or some­how help­ful to democ­racy.

And yes, I know it’s a fig­ure of speech. But some­times words mean what they say, or at least show their truth in plain sight. King­mak­ers might thrive in­side the demo­cratic process, but they have con­tempt for the will of the peo­ple. And in the end, they serve only one ruler – their own am­bi­tion.

A king­maker puts per­sonal po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions ahead of the needs of the coun­try. Pa­tron­age, not pa­tri­o­tism, is paramount

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