Black business disgruntled

Black Business Council in the Built Environment (BBCBE) is going to push for the government to introduce quotas in the multibillion-rand infrastructure outlay meant to reignite the morbid economy.

This is after black business formations raised concerns and their displeasure over JSE-listed Balwin Properties’ Mooikloof Mega City project.  The project is a private-public partnership between Balwin, Gauteng government and the City of Tshwane.

The organisation and its parent organisation, the Black Business Council, will meet the government this week to discuss the way forward. BBCBE CEO Gregory Mofokeng said the organisations’ members have raised displeasure over their exclusion in the flagship project.

“We will be presenting our solutions to the government. Our point of departure is that the broader economy and particularly the construction and property sector must reflect the demographics of the country. We are going to demand that government set quotas when it comes to these mega projects,” Mofokeng said.

“We are not going to settle for anything less than 50%, but we are going to push for 60% – 70%. Black business cannot be relegated to just sub-contractors. There is definitely space to develop black developers, black manufacturers and suppliers though this unfolding infrastructure programme.”

In June, the government announced the roll-out of an extensive infrastructure investment drive that would cover 55 projects across six sectors.

The programme is an attempt to kickstart an economy battered by COVID-19, as well as to address a history of chronic infrastructure underspending.

The Mooikloof project is one of the flagship projects in the more than R300-billion infrastructure built programme.

National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (Nafcoc) secretary-general Steve Skhosana said the government has relegated black business to the peripheries of economic development.

“Nafcoc will not be surprised to learn that the entire supply/value chain will also be reserved for white-owned  companies that will be dictating terms and conditions including rates to black SMMEs, and manual labour jobs like brick layering and tiling are for exploited illegal/undocumented foreigners,” Skhosana said.

Head of investment and infrastructure office in the Presidency Kgosientso Ramokgopa said transformation was at the top of government’s agenda.

“While this is private money [Mooikloof], we will place additional obligation on the developer to introduce new entrants into this space. The supply of the inputs [bricks, window frames, door frames, etc] must be procured from appropriately accredited, black-affirmed industries so that we are able to capture the value chain,” Ramokgopa said.

“The second element is people who will be doing sub-contracting work. The first condition is that these need to be black sub-contractors and the rates must be market-related so that they [emerging contractors] grow.”

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