BREDASDORP, WESTERN CAPE – In a concerted call to action, the residents of Overberg District in the Western Cape province have advocated for the introduction of a new clause in the National Small Enterprise Amendment (NSEA) Bill. The amendment aims to cater to the distinct challenges faced by small-scale fishermen and farmers in the region.
According to Parliament of South Africa, submissions made during the public hearings held by the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development at Overberg Academy of Sports, the local fishermen have expressed that despite fishing being a financially viable trade, obtaining finance from commercial banks is a significant obstacle. They conveyed their expectation that the newly proposed Small Enterprise Development Finance Agency (SEDFA) could be a beacon of hope in overcoming these financial hurdles.
The NSEA Bill outlines the creation of SEDFA, a merger of several agencies including the Co-operative Development Banks Agency, the Small Enterprise Development Agency, and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency. The Bill delegates the Minister of Small Business Development as the representative shareholder for the South African government and its people.
During the hearings, small-scale farmers shared their predicament, particularly the scarcity of agricultural land. They proposed that the Bill includes a clause detailing the allotment of land to small-scale farmers based on their developmental stage in farming, a measure they believe would greatly support their growth and sustainability.
Participants further recommended the Bill to provide for a small enterprise tribunal, beyond the Office of the Small Enterprise Ombud Service. This tribunal would be responsible for resolving disputes that may occur between small-scale enterprises and larger, more established businesses.
These hearings are part of a constitutional mandate under section 59(1)(a), which obliges the National Assembly to promote public involvement in the legislative processes. The Western Cape is the fifth province to engage in such public hearings, following successful events in Limpopo, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, and Free State.
The Portfolio Committee is set to continue their public consultations on the Bill with the next session scheduled at the Joseph Stone Auditorium in Athlone, within the City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality.