Why Blade is right

2010-07-17 12:38

Patrick Rampai’s letter “populist political speech hurts BEE” (City Press 20 June 2010) is correct in raising concerns about the possible negative impact of the label “tenderpreneurship” on legitimate tendering.

Care must be taken not to tarnish the image of legitimate tendering by labelling all tendering “tenderpreneurship”.

However, Rampai misses the point by labelling SACP secretary-general Blade Nzimande’s stand against tenderpreneurship as populist. In fact it surprises me that a black entrepreneur who engages in legitimate tendering should object to the SACP’s stance against corruption in tendering because the biggest victim of tender corruption is small business.

What Nzimande calls tenderpreneurship is the practice by a small number of politically connected individuals and businesses to use those connections to secure tenders for jobs that, in some instances, they do not even have the skills and capacity to execute.

Sometimes the prices paid for these tenders are hugely inflated and therefore impose a massive cost on society both financially and in terms of shoddy work.

No self-respecting entrepreneur can take issue with those who stand against these unethical practices. Black entrepreneurs want to do legitimate business with the state.

The SACP is not raising an issue that the government itself has not raised.

So much so that it has even set up mechanisms such as anti-corruption hotlines and investigations by the Auditor-General in order to deal with this scourge.

Bravo to the SACP and Cosatu for taking up such an important cause. Organised business is surprisingly silent on this. One hopes, perhaps naively, that someday business itself will stand up against these and other unethical business practices. Small business would be most grateful for it.

  • Septi Bukula is an independent small business analyst and director ­of Osiba Research

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