Premier Sihle Zikalala Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archive
Durban - KWAZULU-NATAL premier Sihle Zikalala said it was concerning that no one had been arrested for the disruption of construction sites by the business forums, even though their activities were impacting on the province’s economy.

He warned that the provincial government would not tolerate the disruption of business in the construction, trucking and logistics sectors.

Zikalala was speaking at the KZN Growth Coalition breakfast in uMhlanga. He assured business that the provincial government, with the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was working on a solution to the disruptions that had become a growing threat to KZN businesses.

The Mercury reported on Monday that the chamber was in talks with the so-called “construction mafia”, the Delangokubona Business Forum, to end the disruptions and menace they had inflicted on business.

Zikalala also raised concern about the number of trucks that had been set alight in the province. In June, at least 20 trucks were torched weekly, over three weeks, allegedly by unemployed truck drivers. They were protesting against the employment of foreign nationals in the freight industry.

“Next month, the province will be hosting its investment summit, to attract much needed FDI (foreign direct investment) and investments from our local companies into the KZN economy.

“We are working hard to punish and root out the culture of illegality by groups who are hijacking construction sites and cause stoppages, and cause our economy to bleed. Such acts of criminality have no place in the KwaZulu-Natal that we seek to build,” he said.

Zikalala said such acts “do not come close to the meaning of radical economic transformation or Operation Vula” (a provincial government mobilisation, to achieve economic change).

“When we met here last year, we said we were going to deal with invasions and disruptions at business sites. Post our engagement, we continue to see a number of disruptions, especially in the trucking and logistics sector.”

He said the province had intervened and established a task team, working with the ministers of police, labour and transport.

“We have done well. We are continuing to intervene in that industry. We have not yet resolved the problem, but are working hard to ensure we address that challenge. We are pleased to see leaders of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry engaging the disgruntled parties, in order to end the conflict which does not benefit anyone.

Zikalala mentioned The Mercury’s front page report on efforts between the chamber, Delangokubona and other groups, to clinch a memorandum of understanding.

“As government, we stand ready to assist all efforts that will eliminate disagreements and conflict so that we can achieve the prosperity that is within our reach.”

Malusi Zondi, president of the Federation for Radical Economic Transformation (FFRET) said they agreed with the premier. Zondi said the federation had met the premier and the municipality last year and agreed on a resolution of a 30% minimum contract participation goal.

“This means that if there is a contract, worth a minimum of R10million, 30% of local businesses should be allowed to participate in that contract,” he said. “The issue that I must raise is that there are people who form business forums to disrupt.

“We are trying to give meaning to these forums by providing a policy framework to guide how they should operate,” he said.

Zondi said law enforcement should deal with any criminal acts.

The Mercury