KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu.

Johannesburg - A task team has been formed in KwaZulu-Natal to deal with a call to exclude Indian business people from Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) deals, the provincial government said on Wednesday.

Premier Sizwe Mchunu's spokesman Ndabezinhle Sibiya said Mchunu formed the task team last year after organisations, mostly in Phoenix, marched against Indian businessmen, saying they had benefited from apartheid and were still dominating the business sector.

They felt they should be excluded from BEE dealings.

“MEC for human settlements in KZN Ravi Pillay and Umgungundlovu District mayor Yusuf Bhamjee, are leading the team,” said Mchunu.

The government was taking this matter seriously, and called on people to use the structures provided to voice their concerns about socio-economic development.

“There are regular interactions between the task team and the premier, and they will be meeting again in the next few weeks.”

The Business Report reported on Monday that the Imbumba Business Group and Mazibuye African Forum (MAF) were leading the action, and that the MAF had recommended that the government re-examine its BEE and affirmative action policies.

MAF spokesman Zweli Sangweni said Indian businessmen dominated the transport, wholesale, fruit and vegetable markets, and retail, and benefited from tenders, and that the wealth gap between Durban's black and Indian people continued to widen.

“We are calling for an urgent economic transformation in this province. A lot of black people who work for Indians are still underpaid and are enslaved,” said Sangweni.

Sibiya said people with grievances should not use divisive tactics to deal with socio-economic issues, but rather use available structure to resolve these matters.

Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Andrew Layman reportedly told the newspaper the views expressed by the opposing organisations were shameful.

“The views... are contrary to those on which the South African Constitution and democracy are based,” Layman was quoted as saying.

Ashwin Singh of the SA Minority Rights Equality Movement reportedly agreed, saying the Indian community had not built its wealth on tenders, but from family businesses which had been around for generations. - Sapa