- Deputy President David Mabuza said the red tape team in the Presidency was addressing bureaucracy in various processes businesses must undergo to operate.
- Mabuza said this included ensuring that officials dealing with business applications were professional and did not solicit bribes from businesses.
- He denied suggestions that the red tape team duplicates the Department of Small Business Development's duties.
The team in the Presidency tasked with untangling red tape - in a bid to help businesses operate more easily and aid economic growth - has already begun working to improve processes such as mining approval, water licences and environmental impact authorisation, Deputy President David Mabuza said on Thursday.
He also stressed a commitment to tackling corruption, such as soliciting bribes for regulatory approvals.
Replying orally to questions at the National Council of Provinces during a virtual plenary, Mabuza said the task team - which is led by former mining boss Sipho Nkosi - is also focused on improving integrity and professionalism among officials who encounter business leaders in their work.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the establishment of the task team during his State of the Nation Address in February 2022.
Responding to a question from ANC MP Mandla Rayi about how this intervention will support businesses in townships and rural areas, Mabuza said the team had already begun its work on regulatory processes.
"Government understands the negative impact of inefficient processes and barriers on business activity. The president has prioritised the coordinating of government measures for the ease of doing business. These regulatory and administrative efforts anchor our economic recovery efforts," said Mabuza.
Mabuza acknowledged that in many cases, inefficient delivery, lack of professional services and inefficient supply chain management, lengthy building plan proposals and delayed turnaround times for approvals that businesses required.
He said critical reforms for SMMEs included the launch of the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission's BizPortal to allow swift registration of businesses, simplifying construction permits through automation, reducing procedures for SMMEs to get permanent electricity connection, and the transparent registration of property.
In a supplementary question, Rayi asked: "Red tape in government around licences and other business processes is a deliberate act from some officials seeking bribes and kickbacks. We need a change in values and standards. Are there plans to communicate this approach to spheres of government?"
Mabuza said the government was committed to rooting out corruption and ensuring officials perform their duties to the highest standards of ethics and efficiency.
"As part of government's efforts to ensure public service employees display integrity and accountability, the School of Government offers a range of programmes targeted at improving the level of services and bringing back the integrity of the state," he said.
EFF MP Omphile Maotwe asked Mabuza if he believed that the red tape team would create a duplication of duties under the Department of Small Business Development and count as a vote of no confidence in the department.
"I don't see this move as a vote of no confidence in any minister. I see it as a solution to a real problem. A number of ministries must also deal with red tape. The Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestries and Fisheries - they have environmental assessments that take ages. I don't think we are targeting any minister, but addressing challenges in the system itself," said Mabuza.
DA MP Hildegard Boschoff asked Mabuza if he would support the Ease of Doing Business Bill introduced to Parliament by her party. Mabuza said the government was "open to any persuasion" as long as the policies in the bill were effective and well-considered.
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