ANC ‘must see behind anti-Indian threats’

2014-01-14 00:00

INSTEAD of a knee-jerk reaction to blatant calls to sideline Indian businesses in KZN, the ANC should rather do a study of who actually benefits from business deals awarded by the government.

This comment from political analyst Sipho Seepe follows reports on the weekend that the Mazibuye African Forum has intensified its calls for Indian business people to be excluded from any black empowerment deals and affirmative action.

Meanwhile, in an about-turn, the Imbumba Empowerment Business Group distanced itself from the Imbumba Business Group, which came out in strong support for Mazibuye on the weekend.

Imbumba Empowerment said they are not anti-Indian, but nevertheless decried “over-compensation” of individual families.

The group of 10 businesspeople from the empowerment group, yesterday held a “special” meeting at a Durban hotel in an apparent attempt to find ways to do damage control.

The Mazibuye African Forum reportedly distributed pamphlets asking why black people voted for the “congress” when only Indians get rich.

Mazibuye, branded as racist by the ANC, puts the ruling party in a difficult position as they turn their focus to wining support from the Indian community and other minority groups.

But the threat made by African businesspeople to boycott the KZN ANC in the polls unless it stopped awarding tenders to Indians, is a wake-up call to the ruling party, says Seepe and Mcebisi Ndletyana, head of the political economy faculty of the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection.

They said the ANC now has to dispel the perception that Indians have the provincial economy in a stranglehold.

The ANC was not immediately available for comment yesterday as its provincial leaders were locked in a meeting.

The empowerment forum claimed they are a non-profit organisation, with more than 1 000 members, aimed at empowering small business with skills, exposing them to a business environment and teaching them how to access tenders.

Director Tobekani Mkhize said their business group was non-racial and bound by the country’s constitution.

“So far our members are Africans, with a few coloured and Indian members. It is open to all. We are awaiting white members,” said Mkhize.

However, he said the government must allow small business to play a role in the economy.

“That is why we join hands as SMMEs to say government please help the previously previously disadvantaged to make a living in their country.”

While denying any anti-Indian sentiments, the group confirmed they planned to hold a march to the eThekwini metro to complain about issues affecting small businesspeople.

A date for the march has yet to be confirmed.

However, a draft petition seen by The Witness called for “transformation” in various municipal departments.

Ndletyana, head of the political economy faculty of the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, said it was not unexpected for anti-Indian sentiments to be raised.

“There are people who feel the Indians get more and Africans are left out because the Indians have been the dominant commercial group.”

He said the talk about the ruling political elite associated with Indian businesspeople also did not help.

Seepe said the threats by the businesspeople were a sign of desperate people wanting to influence the ANC.

He added the anti-Indian sentiments also signalled that the benefits of democracy were disproportionately distributed.

“The ANC must ask itself whether the benefits of democracy have been experienced by all or just some groups. They must simply ensure that the dividends of democracy benefit all,” Seepe said.

“It could also be a statement that one group may have exploited the opportunities presented by democracy,” Seepe said.

Ndletyana said although tricky, it is, however, critical that the ANC responds.

• Imbumba Business Group on their Facebook page say “they no longer want R20 000 worth of tenders but those worth millions and enjoyed by Indians”.

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