DISGRUNTLED entrepreneurs in Nkangala, Mpumalanga, have demanded that an independent audit of both public and private business transactions be conducted to determine whether Premier David Mabuza has business interests he has not disclosed.
The disaffected group suspects the premier has vested business interests in the area hidden in a sophisticated proxy scheme.
The concerned group, which calls itself the eMalahleni Community, is to meet Deputy Economic Development Minister Madala Masuku on Friday to air its grievances. The meeting was prompted by a memorandum the group sent to the ministry last week. Ministry spokesman Thembinkosi Gamlashe confirmed the scheduled meeting.
However, Mr Mabuza has dismissed allegations that he has businesses in which individuals are fronting for him.
President Jacob Zuma signed the Public Administration Management Act into law last December.
The act bars public servants from doing business with the state. The government set up an integrity unit in January to “manage ethics, integrity and disciplinary matters” involving public servants employed in any sphere of government.
Bafana Lukhele, a member of the concerned group and an executive at the Nkangala Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Business Day on Monday that “greedy government officials” were stifling growth in the area by shutting the door on individuals outside of Mr Mabuza’s inner circle. Attempts to stage a protest march last week at the municipal offices in Witbank turned violent after police used rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators, he said.
In a memorandum, the group alleges that Mr Mabuza and his allies have monopolised business in Nkangala. Also, the group claims, private sector executives, particularly in mining, have been told not to speak to anyone but Mr Mabuza or those close to him.
Mr Mabuza and his allies, the memorandum says, decide who gets a job and where, and companies that do not bankroll him are excluded from doing business with the government.
Mr Mabuza’s spokesman, Zibonele Mncwango, said on Monday that the premier was aware of groups that approached mines in Nkangala “claiming to be negotiating jobs for local communities”.
Mr Mabuza had visited the various communities, where he was told mines were refusing to employ people from the area.
Thereafter he had created a forum in which local business, the government and communities could discuss economic development, including jobs, Mr Mncwango said.
The forum aimed to stop individuals approaching mines for jobs outside of formal structures. “Various groupings will approach the mines and claim to be representing communities,” he said.
But Mr Lukhele contended that individuals went to mines directly because they were “frustrated”.
The disgruntled group also said it opposed Mr Mabuza’s bid for a third term as African National Congress provincial chairman, as he was unable to govern.