Pretoria – “I didn’t think I’d become a businesswoman,” says Mavis Sibanyoni, who employs over 60 people in her cleaning services business.
Mdito Cleaning Services, which is based in Mpumalanga, was started in 2004 after Sibanyoni had to give up her job — twice — as a result of job transfers of her former husband.
“I told myself that as a woman, I need to prove a point that women can run businesses,” says Sibanyoni, who is one of many South Africans who has become a success as a result of government’s Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) legislation.
Government defines the policy instrument of BEE as “a growth strategy aimed at broadening the economic base of the country by targeting inequality, which remains the weakest point of the South African economy”.
BEE policy was crafted by government to benefit the majority of black people in the economy, who are categorised as ordinary black people, black women, youth and people with disabilities, among others.
The Department of Trade and Industry (dti), in collaboration with the Presidential B-BBEE Advisory Council, will today and on Friday, host the first ever Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Summit.
President Jacob Zuma is due to open the two-day summit, which will take place in Midrand, Gauteng.
The summit will be held under the theme ‘A Decade of Economic Empowerment (2003 to 2013)’.
The South African government adopted the B-BBEE Act in 2003, with the aim of establishing a legislative framework for the promotion of BEE to end the exclusion of black people from the mainstream economy and de-racialise business ownership through focused BEE policies.
Mdito is among the businesses that have flourished as a result of the legislation and is conducting business with some well-known companies.
Sibanyoni’s company provides cleaning services to companies such as Exxaro’s Arnot mine, which is situated some 43km from Middelburg, Mpumalanga, and Roshcon SOC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Eskom.
“In 2009, I made a proposal to Roshcon at Kusile power station [in Mpumalanga]. I got the tender with the value of … R6 million plus over three years. I am still doing work for them.
“In 2010, I got a tender with Hitachi Power, which has grown up to R6 million plus as well,” she said.
In order for her close corporation to get work, Sibanyoni did a lot of groundwork, registering her details on various companies’ databases in order to obtain work.
At Roshcon, Mdito started off with 14 cleaners, which grew to 35 cleaners. At Hitachi Power, Mdito employs 33 cleaners.
Following the recession caused by the global financial crisis in 2009 — which led to a considerable decline in companies’ contributions to BEE — a review of the BEE Act commenced in 2011 to tighten up the Act and address challenges such as fronting.
On 20 June 2013, long-awaited amendments to the BEE Act No. 53 of 2003 were passed by the National Assembly.
Among the amendments, the new Act contains a clear statutory definition of “fronting” and criminalises this practice (which essentially entails misrepresentation and falsification of BEE status to benefit from public procurement) and provides a framework for and sets new standards for the BEE verification industry.
The two-day summit will provide a platform for policy and decision makers to discuss the gains made and challenges in the implementation of this and other aspects of BEE.
The dti intends to use the summit to re-orientate the framework and reposition B-BBEE as a catalyst for economic growth and development. It also aims to demystify the myth of B-BBEE being viewed as non-productive and not growing the economy. – SAnews.gov.za
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