Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Reflections on the election and my legacy of five years as Shadow Minister of Small Business Development

Over three months have passed since the election and the end of my five year term in Parliament. I had hoped to return for another five year term but the party had other ideas.

After the DA's poor electoral performance, in which its share of the vote dropped and the Parliamentary caucus went from 89 to 84, a three-man review panel was set up to look into the reasons why and what reforms the party should consider to bring it back to a growth path. So far, there has been zero accountability in the senior echelons of the party, with the exception of the resignation of Jonathan Moakes, the campaign director and former CEO. Instead, the leadership have taken "collective responsibility" for the first drop in the DA's national vote since 1994 - language which we associated with the ANC, not the DA, where personal accountability has always trumped the collective. Not any more, it seems.

Friday, 26 April 2019

The Financial Mail endorses the DA's economic policy, positive comments about approach to small business

This week's Financial Mail gives a strong thumbs up to the DA's economic policy, in its lengthy cover story by economics writer Claire Bisseker.

In her article she quotes Lumkile Mondi, who chaired the panel discussion I sat on at the SBI Indaba two weeks ago.

"Wits economics lecturer Lumkile Mondi chaired a recent panel discussion organised by the Small Business Institute in which the main parties were invited to present their policies for supporting the SME sector.

In Mondi’s view, the ANC "disadvantaged itself" by being unable to say what it would do differently, while the EFF offered no policies of its own and simply claimed it would do a better job of implementing the ANC’s if it were in power.

The DA had "a very good story to tell", however, based on its approach of boosting SMEs through deregulation."

I must say I am chuffed to have got his approval for my comments.

Bisseker also quotes my colleague and DA spokesman on jobs, Geordin Hill-Lewis as follows:

"...the DA would improve the operating environment for small firms by ensuring government departments pay them in 21 days, not the current 30. It would also exempt SMEs from most labour and employment equity legislation, reduce red tape and return to sector-specific minimum wages with a new minimum floor of R1,780 a month. "We need a recalibration of the power relationship between big unions and small businesses," says Hill-Lewis. "Shop-floor strike ballots should be mandatory and bargaining council agreements should not be imposed on small businesses which are not represented. These two reforms alone would go a long way in forcing the two towards a better working relationship."

The DA's policy on small business outlined in our manifesto has won the approval of most commentators. I am proud to have played a significant hand in writing it. 

Letter in Business Day about corruption in the Dept Small Business Development

Yesterday's online version of Business Day publishes my letter about rampant corruption in the Department of Small Business Development. It seems corruption is now everywhere. People laud Minister Rob Davies for his sound management of the Department of Trade and Industry which he has run since 2009 but under his watch corruption has spread like a cancer and Minister Zulu has done nothing to stop it after inheriting the "small bits" of the DTI when her department was set up in 2014.

Until now. Last month she suspended nine officials on the strength of an Auditor General's report, and I hope this will be just the start of a cleanup process to root out corruption entirely.

You can read the letter here or below for non-subscribers to BusinessLive.

Minister Zulu must release the Auditor General’s report on corruption in her department and initiate lifestyle audits on all her officials
25th April 2019
Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, must release the Auditor General’s report on its investigation into corruption by officials in her department which was finalised in March. She must also initiate lifestyle audits on all department staff, many of whom are living lifestyles way beyond what their salaries would afford.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Minister Zulu's international trips revealed

Questions to Ministers, both written and oral, are an excellent way to extract information from the executive they are reluctant to reveal through other means. 

See how taxpayers' money is spent by one such minister, Lindiwe Zulu, Minister of Small Business Development. The air travel costs alone amounted to R1,3 million for 12 trips, some of which were paid for by the host country/organisation. That's over R100 000 per trip. 

The DA has been pressing for the Ministerial Handbook to be amended to minimise expenditure by the executive. Finance Minister Tito Mboweni might be forced to listen as a cost-cutting exercise will soon become mandatory, due to the government's coffers running dry.

Manifesto debate at the SBI SME Indaba

On Thursday 11th April I participated in a debate with the ANC and EFF on our election manifestos. It was part of the Small Business Institute SME Indaba held at the Bryanston Country Club.

My counterparts were ANC MP Ruth Bhengu, Chair of Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development and a colleague of mine for the past 5 years on this committee; and Mandisa Mashego, Chair of the EFF in Gauteng. It was moderated by economist, commentator and SBI director, Lumkile Mondi.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

My final speech in Parliament

On Thursday I delivered my final speech in the 5th Parliament, a declaration on the Small Business Committee's report on our trip to Spain last September.

I will be writing a valedictory piece closer to the time (or maybe once the elections results have been announced) to share my thoughts on my time as an MP since May 2014.

"The purpose of this study tour was to visit the Mondragon Corporation, Spain’s leading exponent of cooperatives as an organising principle of business, learn from its successes and failures and understand the role government plays in the cooperatives sector and social economy.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Small Business Institute Indaba 11th April - programme notice, I'm on the morning panel

I have received notice of the SBI's first Small Business Indaba of 2019 in which I
will be appearing alongside representatives from the ANC and EFF in a panel
to discuss our manifestos as they pertain to SMEs.

See details below and the link to the provisional programme here.

SBI  #SMEIndaba 11 April - Bryanston

Dear SBI Members, business colleagues, and partners,

The first SBI #SMEIndaba of the year will be on Thursday, 11 April, at the Bryanston Country Club in Johannesburg.

We hope you can join us for what promises to be another memorable morning of speeches, debates and inspiration.