Durban - The ANC has come out in defence of the Indian business community whose credentials are being put into doubt by the anti-Indian group, the Mazibuye African Forum, who want Indians removed from the black economic empowerment framework.
Mazibuye spokesman Zweli Sangweni, who claims to be a card-carrying member of the ANC in KwaMashu despite the organisation denying this, has also called for Indians to be banned from the state tender process and from benefiting through black empowerment.
A provincial task team to be headed by Human Settlements MEC Ravi Pillay and Umgungundlovu District Mayor Yusuf Bhamjee was appointed by Premier Senzo Mchunu following disruptions in the Phoenix Industrial Park last year, where 44 Mazibuye members were arrested after confrontation with police and businesses.
“We are bitter, we need to be radical in taking economic control,” he told the Daily News this week.
Meanwhile the recently established Imbumba Empowerment Business Group has dismissed reports that they were an anti-Indian body that wanted Indians to be banned from getting any more of the state’s tender pie, particularly for construction projects.
Imbumba, who have met several times this week at top Durban North restaurants, said they were being misrepresented in the press.
They were awaiting permission from the eThekwini Municipality to march to the Durban City Hall tomorrow to make their feelings known. Imbumba is led by Vusi Mvelase, who has not been party to their special meetings this week.
The ANC’s provincial secretary, Sihle Zikalala, yesterday again distanced the ANC from Mazibuye. This was despite reports that yesterday Mazibuye leader, Phumlani Mfeka, was being nominated in ANC Youth League branches to replace the expelled Julius Malema as the youth league’s president.
“The ANC does not believe in racial discrimination. It will be a problem if he is a leader of that organisation and a member of the ANC Youth League. If he has a membership, the ANC will have to meet with him and deal with him directly, because right now we do not know if he is a member,” he said.
Zikalala bemoaned the campaigning for positions while the structures of the ANCYL were “far” from adequate.
“We appreciate that economic imbalance must be addressed, but we are not going to allow a situation whereby the ANC is led by a racial divide,” he said.
ANC provincial spokesman Senzo Mkhize confirmed earlier this week that Imbumba and Mazibuye had met the ANC on separate occasions.
Mazibuye claims 10 000 members, while Imbumba claims more than 1 000 aspiring businessmen in the transport and construction sectors.
Sangweni said: “If you look at the provincial transport department, there are a few Indian companies that take all the budget,” said Sangweni.
He said Indians did not deserve to be classified as “previously disadvantaged”.
“It is a glaring issue in our view, even some Indians accept this,” he claimed. “A lot of the black people live in shacks, there are no Indians in shacks, they are almost on the same level as the whites. But what do we have? Nothing. They are doing this through the ANC, although they don’t vote,” he said.
“Indians don’t deserve to manipulate the ANC because they do not vote in the first place, it has been shown time and time again that they empower each other in the distribution of the economy,” Sangweni said.
Mkhize described the utterances as “racist” and denied Sangweni’s claim that he was a member of the party.
“We take exception with the Mazibuye group throwing the ANC’s name in all their complaints as if they were directed by us,” he said.
“They treat us as if we are the opposition, and we are fine with that. We disagree with their position and the articulation of their issues – they are not radical, they are racist,” he said.
Imbumba’s director, Thobekani Mkhize, sought to quell some of the flames, saying in an interview with the Daily News that his organisation had never called for Indians to be banned from tenders.
“All we are saying to government is that they must provide means for SMMEs in the economy of South Africa,” he said.
“We feel there are companies, individuals, who are being overly compensated in the economy of South Africa.
“That’s why we are joining hands as Imbumba (which means unity) and are asking government to intervene.”
The premier’s spokesman, Ndabezinhle Sibiya, said Pillay and Bhamjee had been appointed to sit down and meet the affected business people after they had complained that nothing was being done about the business disruptions.
Daily News and Sapa