Following the eThekwini Municipality recently hosting a rural and township investment imbizo to benefit SMMEs, small businesses in Durban say the government is not pumping money into infrastructure. Crime, poor maintenance and an almost nonexistent service delivery plague the state-owned complexes where these SMMEs are placed in townships, which is leading to them losing customers.
Vutivi News spoke to SMMEs who painted a grim picture of their situation. Lungisani Zwane, whose business Zebraah Paints is based in KwaMashu and services the townships, said that while complexes owned by the metro in the CBD and industrial areas were “always taken care of”, it was the opposite for those in townships.
“They are provided with adequate cleaning and security services and we are also in need of those. Here in the complex where my business is located, it is always filthy. At some point we went for three months without receiving any kind of cleaning service,” he said.
“There is also poor service delivery. For example, as a paint manufacturer, I need a constant supply of water, and when we have issues with water, it takes them forever to fix the problem.” Zwane did not place the blame squarely on Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, but also on the municipal employees. “The mayor is doing his bit, but he can only do so much on his own,” he said.
“We would also appreciate it if high-ranking officials would do oversight visits at our complexes and really see what we need.” Malusi Gumede’s business, Qwabe Interiors, also operates out of a municipal-owned complex located between the townships of Phoenix, KwaMashu and iNtuzuma. He told Vutivi News that they were also facing similar problems.
“Not every unit has electricity and five units are forced to share one source of electricity. This leaves us exposed to criminals who would find it easy to steal the cables that are dangling outside of our premises,” Gumede said. “We also don’t have any security at all and because there is so much crime in the area, we lose a lot of customers, who would rather travel long distances to areas that are safer and have security.”
He complained that SMME owners did not even have a parking space. Gumede told Vutivi News that he believed it was unfair that the government did not consult entrepreneurs about what they needed. “We were not just expecting an imbizo, but we were expecting the government to send the ministers that deal with SMMEs to come and have a look at how bad we have it and engage us to see how they can make doing business more tolerable for us.”