Following confirmed reports of violent intimidation and harassment of its members and their employees by mafia-style business forums on construction sites in KwaZulu-Natal and other parts of the country, Master Builders South Africa (MBSA) – the country’s federation of construction companies – has been alerted of new reports of similar incidents by forums that have now organised themselves in Gauteng.
MBSA Executive Director, Roy Mnisi says the federation is gravely concerned about the spread of this trend to other provinces and has called for the country’s law enforcement agencies to assist in bringing sanity to the sector.
He explains that the forums’ modus operandi is to demand 30% of the entire construction contract price while claiming to be fulfilling government’s mantra of radical economic transformation. “This is being done without regard for the fact that main contractors may have already subcontracted a proportion of the work that often far exceeds 30% of the contract to SMMEs and/or black contractors.”
Due to the often-violent nature of these incidents, construction companies have been forced to delay work on affected projects, escalating their cost and rendering workers on such sites redundant for long periods on end, as efforts are made to deal with these forums.
Mnisi adds that the MBSA is committed to transforming the sector and to providing more support to emerging contractors, but emphasises that the violent and criminal nature of these disruptions has no place in a progressive economy. He warns that the use of violence, intimidation and harassment will only reverse the gains made to date in giving a legitimate voice to the call for transforming the industry.
“As a federation of employers in the building industry, we represent over 4000 members – the vast majority of which are small and medium-sized construction companies. They are sub-contracted at various levels in these major construction projects and, despite having scheduled their work accordingly, now often find themselves idle when work on sites is suspended,” says Mnisi.
In 2016, when similar incidents were reported in KwaZulu-Natal, MBSA engaged the local forums. All parties agreed on a roadmap for transformation and committed to continued and non-violent engagement, amongst other concessions. However, Mnisi shares some challenges experienced in managing the forums’ demands: “With the forums being numerous and, in some instances, not formalised, discussions with some of them sometimes achieve very little, if anything at all. Transformation is a very legitimate issue that must be addressed, but as an industry we are now at risk of losing the traction that we have gained if these incidents are allowed to fester and if we allow members of our communities to embark on illegal activities under the guise of pursuing radical economic transformation.”
He urges all genuine built environment-related business forums to engage MBSA and other legitimate voluntary associations in the sector to work together and find sustainable and lawful ways of addressing the imbalances of the past.
“As a federation, we require all MBSA members to comply with all BBBEE-related laws, Procurement Regulations and the Sector Charter Codes. We are working with our members to ensure speedy transformation of the sector. In 2016 a pledge was made in the form of a Transformation Declaration which commits all our members to programmes for sustainable and meaningful socio-economic transformation of the sector through skills development and wider economic participation. Through this Declaration, we have rolled out a Small Builders Development programme that provides support to largely black contractors. We have also been actively engaging relevant parties and secured commitments on behalf of our emerging-contractor members regarding Preferential Procurement Regulations and late/non-payment issues, because we realise the impact of such matters on small/medium sized construction companies,” concludes Mnisi.
The issue of on-site intimidation by business forums, along with others affecting the industry, will be addressed at the MBSA’s upcoming Congress in Port Elizabeth.
Master Builders South Africa is a federation of registered employer associations representing contractors and employers in the South African construction industry. For more information contact Mr Roy Mnisi on 011205900 or visit https://www.masterbuilders.org.za.
KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) is realising its vision to become a prosperous province and a gateway to Africa and the world. The province already contributes upwards of 16% to South Africa’s overall GDP and boasts the highest export propensity and level of industrialisation in the country.
In line with KwaZulu-Natal’s emergence as a hub of industrial development in sub-Saharan Africa, the 2nd annual KZN Construction Expo opens its doors on 7 February 2018 in Durban – convening thousands of construction professionals, government and investors to support the infrastructure development, service delivery, development partnerships and industry transformation currently underway in the province.
The KZN Construction Expo provides an unprecedented opportunity to access the province’s building and construction value chain, ranging from concrete; construction; digital construction; mechanical, electrical & plumbing; surfaces & finishes; smart buildings/ ecobuild and tools & equipment. This interactive platform not only catalyses new investment into infrastructure but also builds capacity for local architects, construction professionals and small to medium sized contractors through free education and technical skills development during training workshops.
Industry transformation is at the top of the agenda for 2018 and highlighted during the 2nd annual KZN Construction Expo through various interactive presentations and training workshops. Aubrey Tshalata, National President of the National African Federation for the Building Industry will address the audience on the topic of enterprise development. The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry – one of the event partners and supporters – will highlight opportunities for small, medium and micro-sized enterprises within KwaZulu-Natal’s construction sector.
Sponsored by Spider Mini-Cranes, Carmix and SA Leak Detection and supported by over 60 exhibiting companies and 20 association partners including the Concrete Society of South Africa, Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal, South African Council for Architectural Professions, The Concrete Institute and the Southern Africa Ready-Mix Association, the 2018 edition of the KZN Construction Expo is an unprecedented opportunity to access KZN’s building and construction value chain in a unique setting allowing for prestigious visibility, interactive networking and on-site demonstrations.
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