Cape Town - Small black-owned businesses in Cape Town say they are facing financial ruin because Metrorail has failed to pay them over R4.2 million for services rendered over the past few months.
Disgruntled business owners told a press conference in Gugulethu yesterday that they were drowning in debt, with some facing foreclosure.
This is despite strict regulations stipulated in the Public Finance Management Act that all contractual obligations and accounts must be settled within 30 days.
Leading the charge on behalf of the disgruntled businesses were former city councillor Andile Lili and councillor Loyiso Nkohla, two men involved in the city’s “poo wars”.
Both men, who have been suspended by the ANC pending disciplinary hearings, said they were acting on behalf of informal settlements leaders and disgruntled Metrorail officials who are fighting unfair dismissal cases at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.
They said Metrorail had seven days to pay up or face public protests in the form of pickets and demonstrations. They vowed to take the issue to Luthuli House, Cosatu, and the office of President Jacob Zuma.
Several businessmen and contractors of Metrorail, who asked not to be named, said Metrorail had failed to pay for services such as transport, cleaning, security and legal services.
Most of the companies were vehicle owners and said they had leased their vehicles to the company as part of Metrorail’s own empowerment programme.
“Metrorail is quick to present letters stating they owe us money, stating they will pay, but when it comes to the dates when they are suppose to pay they come up with a different excuse,” one businessmen said.
Lawyer Simphiwo Lucky Magaba said Metrorail had not paid for legal services provided since November.
Metrorail said its regional manager, Mthuthuzeli Swartz “requested further details (names of the contractors etc) and the requisite documents to verify facts pertaining to the allegations. As soon as he receives this, the matter can be investigated”. - The Cape Argus