SOME 30% of Chris Hani District Municipality’s budget had benefited small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs), while millions had been spent on giving support to such bodies, the district authority’s executive mayor, Kholiswa Vimbayo, has indicated.
Vimbayo was speaking at the business engagement session at the East London International Conference Centre on Tuesday.
In attendance were premier Phumulo Masualle, who was the host of the session, rural development and agrarian reform MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane and sport, recreation, arts and culture MEC Pemmy Majodina.
Vimbayo said R3.5-million had been spent for enterprise support during the most recent financial year, R1.5-million for incubation support and R1-million for industrial development.
“A further R5-million was allocated for youth enterprises where 23 contractors were identified and selected to participate in an extended public works programme learnership programme.”
Komani Border Kei Chamber of Business chairwoman Adré Bartis said the transformation of local economies was being hampered by macro issues of unemployment, job concerns linked to the pressures of minimum wages and inflation.
“Formations and structures should not be established just for the sake of having a voice. They must have proven governance and well- established representation.
“Every formation must present its credentials to earn recognition by government. Business needs a voice that can speak on its behalf.”
She said local authorities that either refused or consistently ignored the calls by business for forums to engage must be held accountable.
“In the Chris Hani district the business sector and the district municipality have established a relationship and it is working well. However, the same cannot be said about Enoch Mgijima, which still refuses to meet with business on any platform.”
Local businessman Thando Ng’obo said foreign nationals were taking over shop ownership in the townships and villages.
He said this would make it difficult to teach children about business as businesses were given to foreign nationals to run.
“I am not against the foreign nationals and they know how to work together, but I think we need to revive local ownership of businesses.”
Masualle said government came together at this time to plan for the coming year.
“As the province we have a unique challenge of rising levels of unemployment, inequality and poverty. We need to put our economy on a different trajectory – our economy must grow to create and not shed jobs.”
Masualle said the government needed the contributions of the business sector and society as a whole.
If the government’s efforts worked, such successes could only be assessed by those who received the services.
The government continued to be embarrassed every day as pupils were seen without desks in schools. SMMEs had to be paid on time and the government needed to ensure this happened.
A report would be drawn up and taken to the provincial cabinet with points of action listed.
“We take some of the criticisms very positively.
“Whatever it is that elevates this province must continue. For us to move our country forward together, it matters what people think, it is not only up to the government. What is government if it does not include the people it leads in planning?”