MBA North condemns attempts to capture infrastructure projects

27 July 2018

The Master Builders Association (MBA) North notes with concern that attempts to hijack infrastructure construction projects in KwaZulu-Natal by criminal consortiums in the guise of transformation is spreading to Gauteng and Polokwane. Such lawlessness must be condemned, says Kwakho Mpepho, Education and Transformation Manager at MBA North because it compromises genuine transformation and will ultimately risk job cuts.

In Durban, an unregistered and shadowy organisation based in uMlazi, the Delangokubona Business Forum, is using violence and intimidation to shut down municipal depots unless it receives tenders, and is demanding Mafia-style protection fees from workers and contractors in private-sector construction companies. Similar tactics have now been reported from Pretoria] and Limpopo.

“The Department of Trade and Industry created Black Economic Empowerment Codes to ensure that transformation takes place in an orderly manner, and that its results are able to be reported. The industry has bought into these codes,” says Mpepho. “Unregistered entities who use transformation as a cloak to disguise illegal business practices are simply common or garden-variety criminals. Their actions have the potential to derail an entire industry.”

He explains that the construction industry is already facing enormous margin pressures, with many of the larger firms facing the prospect of bankruptcy or, at best, business rescue – with a knock-on effect on smaller firms. The added financial and emotional pressure of having to deal with criminal extortion could increase their vulnerability.

The construction industry is responsible for approximately 10% of total formal and informal employment in South Africa, and 16% of informal employment. However, the current poor economic conditions have meant that the sector is shedding jobs. In the second quarter of 2017, 110 000 construction jobs were lost, the highest of any sector.

“Construction should be seen as a national resource when it comes to providing jobs and also for its contribution to creating the infrastructure a modern economy needs,” says Mpepho. “We cannot afford for this vital industry to be ‘captured’ by criminals.

“Our members want to make a contribution to the country, and we run training courses to help them understand their obligations under law. People who act outside of the law must and will be prosecuted.”

More information from Boitumelo Thipe, Tel: 011 805 6611 / Email:   [email protected]

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