The SA Co-ops Association and Retail Network members marched to the department of small business development (DSBD) in Pretoria to deliver a memorandum of demands last Thursday.
The members also marched to defend the Cooperatives Act .
SA Co-ops Association director and spokesperson Masonwabe Fuma from Komani, currently based in Johannesburg, was one of the march organisers.
Fuma said the demands included the allocation of public procurement for cooperatives which he said should be given business contracts by government. This he said was for cooperatives to be promoted instead of being side-lined.
According to him only five cooperatives were given contracts in the country.
“This is very disheartening and alarming. Especially in a country with so much inequality.
When contracts are given to individual entrepreneurs, very few people benefit. But when it is given to cooperatives, majority of our people benefit and this is based on the model of a cooperative. It is dangerous to promote private companies in a country like ours, where are fighting unemployment and inequality daily.”
This, he said, left cooperatives gob smacked by the tendency to promote Pty Ltd enterprises at the expense of cooperatives.
The SA Co-ops Association was also advocating for the re-opening of the cooperatives incentive scheme (CIS) which they felt should not have been stopped and went against the cooperatives act of South Africa.
Fuma said the act stated that government would provide financial support for cooperatives.
“We demand the immediate re-opening of the CIS and fast-tracking of the applications that are already in progress, a full investigation or impact report into CIS beneficiaries, replacement of any underperforming staff members in the CIS team and responses to inquiries by the CIS team when inquiries are submitted by cooperatives,” he said.
Fuma added that setting clear quotas of 20 % for procuring from cooperatives was also on their list of requests from DSBD. Another was re-establishing a Cooperatives Apex, which is a representative body of cooperatives at national level and support to build a co-operatives institute.
“The co-operatives network calls for the re-establishment of the South African co-op apex. We note the unsuccessful attempts in the creation of the co-ops apex body and demand that the DSBD minister, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, starts the process or shares updates about the process.
“The co-ops apex is required by law as shown in the amended cooperatives Act of 2013.
In addition, the minister must provide details on the process of establishing the Cooperatives Development Agency as required by the Co-operatives Act of the Republic of South Africa.”
The SA Co-ops Association also rejects the Township and Rural Enterprise (Trep) programme which, according to Fuma, sought to relegate poor and hard-working South Africans to the margins of economic activity such as spaza shops.
“The Trep project or ‘scam’ gives people some money (R7 000 – R10 000) to create spaza shops when it is known that 90% of this market is not in the hands of South Africans.”
The attempt to push cooperatives and other legitimate SMMEs to the spaza shop market was dangerous and could ignite unnecessary violence.
“The leather business Ntshavheni visited in Johannesburg in August. Such instances leave us no choice but to reject Trep and its camouflage as an effective programme while it is baseless and irrelevant to the cooperative scenario,” said Fuma.
He said the department has been given 14 days to respond and that failure to do so would lead to a second march or to court for violation of the Cooperatives Act of 2013.