eThekwini City Manager Sipho Nzuza. File picture

DURBAN - Durban’s city manager Sipho Nzuza described the ‘mafia’ business forums including, the Delangokubona Business Forum as a “sensitive issue”.

The eThekwini Municipality has been besieged in recent months by ‘mafia’ business forums that have been allegedly using strong-arm tactics to secure work with businesses working with government. The modus operandi of these forums usually involved armed group of men who shut down sites and demand work be subcontracted to them.

On Tuesday evening, while speaking to Alex Mthiyane on Gagasi FM’s talk show, Indaba, Nzuza said the business forum issue was a sensitive one for the city. He said this in response to a concerned caller who inquired about the city’s plan of action to deal with the gun-toting members of business forums.

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The caller said that such business forums had brought work at several construction sites around the city to halt in recent months.

eThekwini City Manager Sipho Nzuza speaks on 'mafia' business forums, including the Delangokubona.

Nzuza said: “The issue of the Delangokubona is an issue which is partly very sensitive. Let me tell you what happens. The people of the Delangokubona and the (business) forums as a whole raise issues that we really need to (address) as the municipality and government.

“These issues relate to black people not getting opportunities to play a meaningful role in the country’s economy,” he said.

The caller interjected and said that it did not mean that the forums had the right to stop ongoing work and demand opportunities by using forceful tactics.

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Nzuza responded: “You are right, we have engaged with the business forums (not with Delangokubona specifically), where we are saying that if you want the municipality’s assistance, you need to engage in the right space in the right manner. We can’t deal with forceful tactics.

“In fact, you are right if you say we cannot be entertaining such tactics as those because others will say ‘the Delangobukona has achieved their goal this way, I must follow the same approach as well’,” he said.

Nzuza added that the city of Durban remained committed to reducing poverty, inequality and unemployment and was committed to creating a environment suitable for business to thrive in.

He reiterated that the threats against Auditor-General’s staff in Durban were being taken seriously by the city’s leadership and said they were still unaware where the threats came from. He said they were awaiting the outcomes of investigations conducted by law enforcement authorities.

SUNDAY TRIBUNE