The ANC-led alliance in Mpumalanga wants government to do away with the tendering system – especially on RDP houses, school feeding schemes, catering and the supply of linen in health facilities.
Co-operatives established by local community members will now benefit as the alliance intends to empower township and village residents.
This was a resolution taken at an alliance economic summit at the weekend to fight unemployment and poverty in the province.
Mpumalanga’s unemployment statistics are dire. The unemployment rate stands at 40% and 73% of the unemployed are youth.
The summit referred to this initiative as the “people’s economy for people’s power”. Previously, small business owners complained that these tenders were awarded to politically-connected individuals.
In 2014, the Mpumalanga Department of Education lost a court case pertaining to the R1.5 billion school nutrition programme tender that was awarded to 17 companies. The North Gauteng High Court found irregularities and labelled the department bid adjudication committee officials’ behaviour as “abhorrent” and “shocking”.
The department feeds about 900 000 primary and high school pupils from poor families.
“The alliance reaffirms the principle of people’s economy for people’s power as a driving vision towards fighting poverty and unemployment,” said the alliance resolution.
“To this end we proudly welcome and fully support the announcement by the ANC-led government to take drastic measures to deal away with the tendering system in the procurement of certain services and allow communities to collectively participate in the supply of such services.”
Mpumalanga residents’ demand for houses is 170 000 RDP units worth R18.7 billion. This money will go to businesses in the communities where the houses will be built.
The provincial Human Settlements Department aims to build 8 000 in the current financial year – worth about R880 million.
Newly-appointed Mpumalanga Human Settlements MEC, Speedy Mashilo, said that government was lagging behind in providing houses because some RDP contractors were failing to complete their projects on time because they were “chewing more than they can swallow”, while others did shoddy work.
“We will deal with that problem and we’ll not pay such companies. From now on we’ll also ensure that companies are given work according to their capacity,” Mashilo said.
“In some cases, RDP contractors are awarded tenders and they go to banks to get loans to buy big cars and end up failing in their projects,” he said.
According to the alliance resolution, hospitals and clinics will buy their linen and food for patients from co-operatives of youth and women they serve.
The summit resolved on the establishment of a state mining company and a state co-operative bank.
The bank will finance new entrants into the manufacturing sector.
Mpumalanga ANC secretary, Mandla Ndlovu, said the departments of education, human settlements and health have been given the summit resolutions to devise a model of implementing them.
“On the mining and co-operative bank, the state must research and look at advantages and disadvantages of establishing these two institutions,” Ndlovu said.