uMfolozi business forum threatens more protest action

uMfolozi Small Business Forum last week marched through KwaMbonambi against uMfolozi Local Municipality's employment and tender policies PHOTO: Tamlyn Jolly

UMFOLOZI Small Business Forum members on Friday gathered at uMfolozi Municipality’s council chambers to hear Mayor Smanga Mgenge’s response to their grievances.

Forum members last week marched to the municipality and handed over a memorandum relating to employment and tender contracts.

‘We believe the forum is not engaging us as the municipality in a proper manner,’ said Mayor Mgenge.

‘The procurement process is legislated and businesses must engage in a competitive bidding process. We cannot just hand out tender contracts.’

Mgenge said the people who led last week’s march have existing business contracts with the uMfolozi Municipality.

Other grievances included SMMEs not being ‘capacitated’ by the municipality.

In response, Mgenge said the municipality, through its Local Economic Development Business Unit, coordinated an SMME business fare with the intention of empowering local SMMEs.

He said the programme was disrupted by the very beneficiaries for whom it was intended.

He further said there are programmes planned for local business people and that 30% of the budget is ring-fenced for local emerging contractors.

Additionally, these contractors can also bid on the remaining 70% through the competitive bidding process.

A bus shelter tender for which members of the forum put in a bid, was put on hold and forum members are demanding to be reimbursed for the R250 cost of the tender documents.

While standard procedure dictates this is a non-refundable payment, Mgenge agreed.

‘The bus shelter project was put on hold as it was specifically intended to benefit local businesses, but none of those that applied qualified,’ said Mgenge.

‘They all failed to provide the required documents stipulated in the tender notice and when told to re-submit their application with all documents, they failed to do so.’

Regarding the forum’s allegations that Municipal Manager Khulumokwakhe Gamede is awarding municipal jobs to friends and relatives, Mgenge said forum members must provide proof of these allegations before they can be investigated.

‘There is no clause in the municipal recruitment policy that prohibits the appointment of relatives, provided they are appointed on merit.

‘The municipality knows of one employee who is related to the Municipal Manager, but he recused himself from the panel and the employee was appointed on merit.’

Forum Chairperson Mdu Nxumalo said the mayor had not responded adequately and the forum will continue with further disruptions until they get what they have asked for.

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  AUTHOR
Tamlyn Jolly
Journalist

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