Businesses: ‘District municipality doesn’t help us’

2010-11-08 00:00

THE business community of Umgungundlovu District Municipality (UMDM) held a meeting on Friday with UMDM Mayor Yusuf Bhamjee, to vent their frustration regarding the awarding of huge local contracts to companies from outside the region.

The newly-formed Umgungundlovu Progressive Business Forum (UPBF) wasted no time in confronting the district mayor about the challenges that they face as local business people.

“We decided to form a forum that would represent all sectors of business with the aim of saving jobs because we felt that local companies are retrenching employees as a result of insufficient opportunities given to us as local businesses,” said UPBF Chairperson Thulani Xulu.

He said they were quite unhappy with the attitude they received from the mayor. “He did not take us as serious businesspeople, meanwhile some of us have been running businesses in this region before the new dispensation of 1994,” said Xulu.

According to Xulu, they had requested the mayor to bring together the seven mayors of the region so that they could address them on their grievances as local businesspeople, but the mayor failed to do that.

“We want to correct the imbalances of the local economy so that more jobs are created. How do we achieve this if the mayor of the district does not take us [seriously]?” said Xulu.

Xulu said: “We are tired of being a capital city that is dying a slow death because our leaders in this region are giving more jobs to [outside] businesses …”

He said they are not objecting to big companies like Group Five getting local contracts; however, they should allow local companies to sub contract so that they can help strengthen the local economy.

“The bottom line is we want to be involved with regards to the local economy,” an angry Xulu said.

“We have done a survey to see how much of the local economy local businesses get and we were shocked to learn that about 60% of the UMDM economy is given to companies outside the region,” he said.

“Businesspeople in Durban had to intervene and force the metro to stop advertising tenders nationally because they wanted their local businesses to benefit. How are we supposed to grow as a capital city if the local businesses are not recognised?”

“We’re not just talking about tenders here … we are talking about the entire economy of this region,” Xulu said.

Boy Zondi, who represents the taxi council within the forum, said: “Enough is enough, we are tired of seeing this region’s economy being manipulated by outsiders when people of this region still suffer.”

He said the municipalities will continue to collapse because money made in this region does not circulate within it.

“People make money here and spend outside of the region because they are not from around here,” said Zondi.

When asked for comment, Bhamjee sent an SMS saying he was at a 150-year celebration event and could not elaborate on the issues raised at Friday’s meeting yet as they are not a matter of urgency.

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