During a press briefing held at Mashamplanez Lounge in Chesterville on Tuesday, to outline the resolutions of a two-day RET conference held in Durban last week, the federation said they would, in due course, name and shame those officials opposing RET, and further vowed to defend Gumede at all cost.
FFRET is a federation of business associations around the province. It partnered with the city to drive the economic transformation agenda through empowering small and emerging businesses, to ensure they are participants in the mainstream economy.
Robert Ndlela, the federation’s spokesperson, said it was time for “envelope” officials to leave.
“We are combat-ready to defend the mayor and those who are champions of RET,” Ndlela said. “We know there is a concerted effort, which is politically driven, against mayor Gumede. We are also aware that some officials who are championing the programme are also under attack. In due course we will have a list of the officials who are against the programme, and we will warn them that what they are doing is wrong.
“Moving forward it’s going to be very hectic. We are aware of the importance of keeping investors happy because we will be the ones who will be saying: ‘Investors, come to eThekwini’. We will be radical, but everything we do will be within the confines of the law.
“We are going to take a week to develop a clear plan of action and, once we have that, we will give it to the municipality,” Ndlela said.
When asked if they were concerned about the stoppages on project sites, Ndlela said: “We don’t wake up in the morning and decide to interfere with project sites. It’s the resistance from big businesses that leads to these stoppages. When a project is on phase one and two without local business inclusion as per the contractual agreement, that cannot be accepted because there’s budget gone,” he said.
Outlining the conference resolutions, Malusi Zondi, the federation’s secretary, said their aim was to lobby to include its members into the mainstream economy.
He said it was resolved, among other things, that the municipality and government have a clear strategy on RET, and that there be a frequency of RET meetings and workshops to help small business owners. They wanted the RET programme to be implemented this month.
The conference also called for the inclusion of women as RET beneficiaries, especially in the science and technology sector, Zondi said.
“People who live with disabilities are to be considered for business opportunities and this must not be in theory only - it must be transparent. There must be a direct door that people with disabilities can go to. They must not be put in the same queue as people without disabilities.”
The conference further resolved to have practical inclusion of young people in the mainstream economy, Zondi said.
He said the federation would be looking at changing the BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) concept to AEE (Africans Economic Empowerment), meaning that more focus would be on Africans rather than on blacks. This, he said, would be done following all proper processes and in a “certain way”.
“We want the enforcement of a new Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act on all the bid committees. Any company that wants to tender to the municipality must have a minimum level 2 Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (scorecard). The 30% procurement policy of government contracts for SMEs must be reviewed in favour of an 80/20 split for black SMEs - direct subcontracting with the municipality on 30% of projects, and not with the main contractor,” Zondi said.
He said the “My Spaza Shops” programme should be aligned into bulk buying, and that opportunities in the maritime industry would be unlocked and skills transfer should be a priority.
Those with agricultural opportunities must get cooking contracts with schools, while guaranteed funding should be made available for stakes-ownership in shopping malls.
“They (mall owners) operate in our own areas. The municipality should give preference to small firms in the leasing of derelict buildings to be used for social housing or student accommodation.There must be monitoring and compliance on project sites because there is abuse of smaller contractors by bigger contractors by giving them cheap rates.
“Officials should also be monitored because they accept brown envelopes instead of implementing policies. These resolutions will guide the implementation of RET in eThekwini and will be utilised as a benchmark in engaging other municipalities in speeding up RET,” Zondi said.
Gumede’s spokesperson, Mthunzi Gumede, said the resolutions were noted and that they would be dealt with through the relevant channels.
Asked if there could be resistance to derail mayor Gumede from implementing the programme, Gumede said RET already existed and no public servant should stand in the way of empowering the poor.
“We would encourage all public servants to work towards closing the poverty gap as envisaged in the National Development Plan,” Gumede said.