South Africa: Local Manufacturers Meet Taking Parliament to the People Delegation

A manufacturer of protective leatherwear in the Eastern Cape has urged Parliament to compel government to enforce compliance with existing procurement policies in order to help local companies create more jobs and stimulate economic growth.

Members of Parliament and Members of Provincial Legislatures from the National Council of Provinces, the National Assembly and the provincial legislatures were in the Buffalo City Municipality for the Taking Parliament to the People Programme currently under way in the province.

Mr Tsepo Daniels, the Managing Director of Proglove in King Williams Town, said that currently there is no verification system in place to ensure the "buying local" policy is adhered to. "Government should enforce compliance in relation to its local content procurement policy. The policy of buying local could be a winner, if it can be implemented effectively. This factory could then employ more people because production would double," he told the members during a visit to his factory on the first day of the Taking Parliament to the People Programme.

He said his business could employ up to 400 people, but currently employs only 150 because the company is competing with imported protective wear. Mr Daniels lost a tender to supply gloves to the South African Defence Force to state-owned arms manufacturer Armscor. He feels this is unfair, because Armscor imports the gloves. Women make up 95 percent of the workforce at Proglove and most of its products supply the mining industry.

Another unhappy small businessman is Mr Jabu Batala, who runs Mngqesha Great Place Lodge in Dimbaza. He complained that his business receives no support from government because it is not graded by the Tourism Grading Council.

"We appeal to government to start using this facility. It has the potential to create economic activities in the area of Dimbaza and then we can develop it further and get the stars (grading). These protocols and systems can be a stumbling block for small up-and-coming businesses," said Mr Batala.

NCOP delegate and Chairperson of the Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Mr Jihad Mohapi said local economic development is a constitutional obligation for government. "It is not a privilege for the municipality to support small, medium and micro enterprises, it is a constitutional obligation. The municipality has an important role to play in local economic development," he said.

Mr Mandla Rayi, leader of the delegation focused on economic development, said shunning black-owned businesses could result in the continuation of apartheid's legacy. "We are going to recommend to the Parliament Finance Management Committee that during our oversights we must use small black-owned facilities," Mr Rayi said.

The delegation also visited a group of young people in the rural township of Dimbaza outside East London, who are on course to join the highly competitive agri-processing and food production industry. The young men and women currently farm vegetables in greenhouses and dream of becoming a big agro-processing business that will create jobs for the community.

The determination of Mr Thozamile Landingwe and his colleagues at 5-Up Primary Agricultural Cooperative impressed Members of Parliament and the Legislatures. The cooperative started in 2012 with funding from the municipality and the Department of Agriculture. It produces tomatoes and green peppers and supply retailers and informal traders in the region.

When the produce fails to meet quality requirements, the produce is turned into jam, which helps to mitigate losses. However, the cooperative has not been able to get the jam on retailers' shelves because it has not yet been approved by the South African Bureau of Standards, as required by retailers.

Plans to revitalise abandoned factories built by the Ciskei homeland government before 1994 and use them to establish another agri-processing park are also in the pipeline.

Source: Parliament of South Africa.

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