eThekwini auction that excludes Indians, coloureds and whites legal, says CFO
Durban - Indian, coloured and white South Africans will not be allowed to bid for vehicles at an auction that eThekwini will hold in March next year. On sale will be vehicles that the city impounded.
City bosses believe there is nothing wrong in excluding minority communities. They say they are not breaking any of their internal rules and regulations.
Krish Kumar, the chief financial officer at eThekwini, said: “We (the city) made it clear to exco. The head of SCM (supply chain management) made it very clear that we will be following clearly the actual principles outlined in the PFA and the BEE code.
"So, whoever is classified, including females and the disadvantaged, we will ensure that they are party to the auction."
He said in the past, cartels emerged and used their resources to preclude individuals from participating.
Kumar said the city would follow its SCM and BEE policies for the auction in line with the law.
Mdu Nkosi, an IFP member and eThekwini council member, said he agreed with the city's decision. He said people with "bigger muscle" needed to be monitored so as to ensure they did not buy everything.
"They would have to be limited, and only a certain percentage of items should be sold to them.”
However, the Democratic Alliance, the main opposition party in the city, disagreed. It has written to the South African Human Rights Commission asking that the exclusion of minority communities at the auction be investigated.
Thabani Mthethwa, the DA eThekwini caucus chief whip, said: “Last year, there was a similar auction that took place and it was embarrassing for everyone because only a certain criteria of people were allowed to participate."
"Knowing what happened last year, I raised the issue of these race-based auctions and asked that we not have a repeat of last year's mess up. We (the DA) pleaded with the council to assure us that the public car auction would be open to all races and that everyone would be given an equal opportunity to participate.
"However, the ANC was happy to reject this specific commitment and opted to proceed with the auction on the basis of it complying with Black Economic Empowerment and the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA). Unfortunately, our plea for an equal opportunity for all was rejected by the ANC majority.”
Mthethwa said he felt disappointed.
“All residents are equal in eThekwini. All residents pay the same taxes and the same rates, so when there is an opportunity to gain, why shouldn't all residents be considered? We don't want this thing of certain race groups or certain people.
"We cannot send out a message that the city only cares for one race. Both Indian and coloured people are residents of this city and previously disadvantaged, and they should not be excluded from opportunities.
“It is our strong view that further imposing racial measures is regressive and will only create further divisions in our society. I have written to the commission, and they have since responded saying they will look into the matter.”
Advocate Ashin Singh, the convenor of the South African Minority Rights Equality Movement (Samrem), said the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA) classified Indians and coloureds as black.
“It was designed to promote local industrial development, socio-economic transformation and the empowerment of small business enterprises, cooperatives, and rural and township enterprises. It was not meant to blatantly exclude people on the basis of race. However, no legislation, including the Constitution, excludes people on the grounds of race.”
He said in terms of the Constitution, the procurement process must be fair, equitable, transparent, economical and cost-effective. “To exclude people on the basis of race is unconstitutional. This constitutes racist behaviour."
Singh said Samrem would discuss the matter at its next meeting.
Morne Mostert, the head of local government affairs at AfriForum, said: “The DA is correct that race should not be part of the criteria and the ANC’s policy is evident that it's focused on a certain race.
“One would expect that with municipalities being the lowest form of local government, and being the closest to the ground, it would be focused on rendering services to all residents. What has happened here is the municipality has been used by parties, especially the ANC, as tools for politicians to gain an advantage and to get their aims met. It's a tragic misuse of power.”
Bheki Ntuli, the ANC eThekwini regional secretary, was unable to comment at the time of publication.