Covid-19 in SA: Black-owned companies to benefit from making protective items
Johannesburg - Hundreds of black-owned small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) across the country are set to benefit from the multimillion-rand procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
National Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane has amended an earlier instruction that prescribed the emergency procurement of Covid-19 PPE items and cloth masks to ease supply by SMMEs and create an environment for the stimulation of local supply and manufacturing.
“Institutions are encouraged to use suppliers/manufacturers falling in a designated group in terms of the Preferential Procurement Regulations 2017,” reads Mogajane’s new instruction, dated May 20.
According to the regulations, designated groups refer to “black designated groups, black people, women, people with disabilities or small enterprise”.
Earlier this month, the Treasury issued an instruction stating that there had been concerns about the procurement process excluding a number of domestic suppliers and covering too wide an array of goods, especially those that could be manufactured locally.
The Treasury also reiterated its commitment to fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective procurement processes. It has assured the country that it wants these processes to be compliant with the country’s imperatives of promoting structural transformation and broadening participation in the economy, to strengthen economic development and empowerment of previously disadvantaged groups and individuals.
The list of suppliers identified by Mogajane include more than 700 companies who manufacture PPE items such as cloth masks, aprons, gowns and other protective clothing.
The companies are registered with the Department of Small Business Development’s supplier database.
There is also another list of over 400 suppliers able to produce between 500 and 500 000 fabric cloth masks a week provided by the National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Industry, and more than a dozen companies who are part of the National Treasury’s transversal contract to supply and deliver clothing to the government.
Business for South Africa (B4SA), which was set up by organised business to support the government’s efforts to mitigate the health, labour market and economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, is looking for a broad-based black economic empowerment- compliant lead logistics provider to distribute PPE in a fast and price-efficient manner.
B4SA has already secured emergency supplies of PPE for the public and private sectors for the first eight weeks of the pandemic and monthly afterwards.
About R1 billion has already been spent on buying PPE using funding donated to the Covid-19 Solidarity Fund established by President Cyril Ramaphosa including millions of N95 and surgical masks for health-care workers and patients, sterile gloves, face shields, gowns, sanitisers and ventilators.
Unions representing health workers at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19 have complained about the lack of PPE and have even advised their members to demand it before performing their duties before working in dangerous, unhealthy, unsafe and unconducive work conditions.