KwaZulu/Natal Embarks On Major BBBEE Implementation

Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal government has taken a bold step to implement broad-based black economic empowerment - at least 50 percent of all goods and services bought by all provincial departments must now be locally produced and supplied by BBBEE-compliant suppliers.

The government of KZN, through its Department of Economic Development and Tourism, signed a pledge to buy local products and make use of local services on Tuesday morning.

This is in line with the Proudly South African "buy local" campaign and the Local Procurement Accord, making KZN the first provincial government to get on board.

Proudly South African will approach other provinces to collaborate with them to promote the local industries.

In the next 10 years, this target will increase to 70 percent and will include services and goods such as advertising, media and communication, interior and exterior cleaning services, clothing and textile, computer equipment maintenance and repair of buildings and stationery.

The timely launch follows President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation address, Premier Zweli Mkhize's State of the Province Address and the Budget Speech by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, all of which talked about government's decisive action to intervene in the economy by rolling out a multibillion rand infrastructure programme.

"The decision by the government to use infrastructure programme as the lynch pin of our economic growth has been widely hailed by economic observers from across the spectrum," said MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, Mike Mabuyakhulu.

It is hoped that the partnership will see the quality of goods produced in the country and province reach world class standards. Mabuyakhulu said the partnership will also enable government to be globally competitive, attract investments and create jobs.

CEO of Proudly South African, Advocate Leslie Sedibe, said: "If we are to meet the challenges of inequality, poverty and unemployment as a nation, we need to change our mind-set. We need people who are patriotic and loyal to South Africa, who have a social conscience to the problems we face. If you buy local, you help invest money in the local economy."

Mabuyakhulu said the aim of the initiative, which is being implemented in phases, was to find out how far the government had gone with the implementation of this critical economic instrument so that swift remedial action can be taken where necessary.

"The initiative is informed by the fact that it is our belief that we cannot begin to crack the whip on others when our house in not in order," said Mabuyakhulu.

All KZN government departments are being verified and results of the first four departments will be released shortly.

"We will be the first to admit that all of us, including government, have a lot to do to ensure that the implementation of BBBEE is accelerated in the province.

"It is not enough that we should only insist that local suppliers should be considered for preferential procurement when they themselves do not buy local products," said the MEC.

The achievement of BBBEE broadly has been a challenge to measure. For the 2009/2010 financial year R8.6 billion was allocated for procurement spend but only R740 million has been spent on BEE companies.

"This shows that we still have a long way to go as government," said Mabuyakhulu.

Buying locally-manufactured goods also helps foster fair labour practices, said Mabuyakhulu, who was concerned at the alarming amount of counterfeit goods in the country.

"While we acknowledge that not all products that are not made in South Africa are counterfeit, we want to stress that the Proudly South African tag on all the products that are bought gives the buyer peace of mind in terms of the quality of the product; and the buyer also knows that, through their purchase, they have contributed to economic growth and job creation," said Mabuyakhulu.

"We call on everyone in the province and all sectors of the economy to support this critical initiative. We have no doubt that this will go a long way towards boosting the economy of the province and ensuring our global competitiveness."

Kemantha Govender
- BuaNews