Thursday, 30 July 2020

DA media statement - DA welcomes Minister Ntshavheni’s commitment to long-overdue Small Enterprise Ombudsman

Today my former colleague, Henro Kruger, issued a media statement that gave me a warm feeling, though I have to admit with a hint of schadenfreude.

I give credit to the Department of Small Business Development for not allowing the issue of finding an alternate dispute resolution mechanism for small businesses to die with my private member's bill, which the ANC effectively killed in October 2018. Now, the (relatively) new Minister has nailed her colours to the mast by honouring my bill, though more in the breach than the observance.

But I hope the ANC members who sat with us on the portfolio committee for five years squirm in shame as they realise they condemned small businesses, who they were meant to represent, to two years of unnecessary pain.

The acting chair of the committee at the time issued a media statement disingenuously claiming the bill was rejected not because of its contents but because it duplicated work the Department was already doing to amend the National Small Business Act. Needless to say, this amendment has not seen the light of day.

30 July 2020
Release: Immediate

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the Minister of Small Business Development, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni’s reaffirmation to her commitment, first made over a year ago, to table a Small Enterprise Ombudsman Services Bill in Parliament, in her budget speech before the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Tuesday.

The DA team in the Small Business Development Committee has for the past six years been advocating for the necessity of such a bill and the establishment of a Small Enterprises Ombudsman in order to tackle the problem of late payments of invoices of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) and the unnecessary bullying by Government and big business.

In May 2018, after four years of research and inputs from small businesses, the then DA Shadow Minister of Small Business Development, Toby Chance, tabled an identically named bill after the portfolio committee was bombarded with complaints from small businesses and pleas for action. Mr Chance took the initiative, wrote and published the bill and, after consultations and submissions from the public, presented it to the committee.

The fact is that an Ombud service could have already been operating had the ANC members in committee not rejected the DA’s private member’s bill as “undesirable”.

The Department of Small Business Development has now seen the sense of such a bill and will hopefully keep the flame burning. Minister Ntshavheni was quick to see its relevance to small business stakeholders after taking office in May 2019 and the Department conducted several consultative workshops later in the year where support for such a bill was overwhelming.

The DA looks forward to reading the new bill when it is published, and hopes that the Government will not remain talkers in this regard, but become doers like the DA.

We have long believed that small businesses too often find themselves on the receiving end of bullying by Government and big business, not just in late payments but in contractual negotiations, terms of trade and other matters where their bargaining power puts them at a disadvantage.

An Ombud service which looks after their interests will go a long way to leveling the playing field and creating the conditions for small businesses to be treated fairly and aiding post-Covid-19 economic revitalization through mass job creation.

Media Enquiries

Henry Kruger MP
DA Deputy Shadow Minister of Small Business Development
083 258 5734

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Business Day publishes my article on Richard Maponya

Business Day was kind enough to publish my article on Richard Maponya, which I edited to make it shorter and sharper. You can read the text below or in BusinessLive here. They got my title wrong - I was not an MEC (Member of the Executive Committee of a province) but never mind, hope springs...

Richard Maponya was accorded the rare honour of a state funeral which took place at the University of Johannesburg Soweto Campus. This honour recognises Maponya’s heroic struggle to build his business in the face of the apartheid regime’s putting every conceivable obstacle in his way. 

It was convenient for today's governing party to lionise one of its own to deflect attention from its long history of racist, anti-business rhetoric, summed up in the pejorative epithet ‘white monopoly capital’. 17th century French author and moralist Francois de la Rochefoucauld had a nice way of putting it: “hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue”.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Richard Maponya – will his life lessons be learned?

Attending several of the services commemorating the life of the late Richard Maponya these past few days has been an eye-opener. In often moving tributes, representatives from business, local communities, politics, religion and academia recalled how Ntate Richard Maponya changed their lives for the better during his 99 years.  

Though much was said, there were four recurring themes – family, respect for others, hard work and entrepreneurship. Maponya exemplified bringing them all together in one life, lived with a purpose. He himself worked until the day he died.

But at another level, the services revealed many of the ambiguities and contradictions in our society which are hard to reconcile and how politics invades even the most intimate moments in a nation’s life. The comparative absence of white faces also reminded me, if I needed reminding, of the deep racial cleavages still dividing our society.

Maponya, a South African and more pointedly a black business titan, was accorded the unprecedented honour of a state funeral which took place at the UJ Soweto Campus. It is convenient for the governing party to lionise one of its own to deflect attention from its long history of racist, anti-business rhetoric, summed up in the epithet ‘white monopoly capital’.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Keepers of the Light - new book and film on Portland Bill lighthouse, Dorset

Two artists from the West Midlands, Brendan Jackson and Geoff Broadway, recently launched their book and film about the construction of the Portland Bill lighthouse on the Dorset coast in England.

They are magnificent works of art in themselves, portraying how the firm of Chance Brothers built a global business on lighthouse design, construction, installation, commissioning and maintenance which lasted for over 100 years.

Monday, 11 November 2019

My article in Business Day on why the DA must embrace the entrepreneurial class and exports

Today's Business Day carries my article on two "killer app" economic policies for the DA - please enjoy!

Hundreds of people turned up at Hyde Park Corner mall to hear Mcebisi Jonas launch his book After Dawn in August. The allusion to dawn was not missed, coming eighteen months after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ‘New Dawn’ state of the nation speech which did so much to raise the hopes of our nation.

Things are a lot darker now, and not just because the ratings agencies are scouring the horizon for signs of an economic upturn, finding little but thunder clouds. Their assessments are met with determined statements of intent that we must “do better” but with little of the political will required to underpin hopes with a realistic plan.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Why has getting Brexit done been so difficult? - Lord Hill in conversation with Toby Chance

Last week I had a fascinating conversation with my friend Jonathan Hill, who I've known since our student days at Cambridge University. The last time we were together in SA was in 1989, when he and his new wife Alex came for a three week holiday. We recalled how we spent Christmas Eve in Durban watching the toppling of Nicolae Ceaușescu, president of Romania, and his execution, along with his wife, the following day. It was a symbolic moment in the collapse of communism in the USSR and eastern Europe.

South Africa was about to experience its own brand of freedom, with President de Klerk announcing the unbanning of the ANC and the release of Nelson Mandela a few weeks later.

Now Britain, of all the least expected countries, is undergoing a political crisis, with the traumatic process of withdrawing from the EU inflaming tensions across the country. In trying to make sense of it all, I was keen to hear Jonathan's views, which are published in today's Daily Maverick - you can read the interview here or in full below.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Measuring the informal economy - stats and impact: the debate continues

GG Alcock's article in BizNews, his interview with Alec Hogg, my response and his riposte, and the Editor's Desk discussion between Alec and Felicity Duncan, have stimulated a lively discussion on how we measure the informal economy and what its impact is on SA's GDP, unemployment and growth.

BizNews has followed this up with a summary of the comments and points made by readers.

Long may this discussion continue, and hopefully it will filter through to the Treasury and Stats SA where the capacity and expertise lies to do the heavy lifting.

It is interesting that the Treasury's economic growth strategy document released yesterday with an accompanying press statement places great emphasis on the role SMEs will and must play in our growth. Many of its recommendations come straight out of work I did with my colleague Henro Kruger in the 5th term of Parliament between 2014 and 2019 - including his Red Tape Impact Assessment Bill, my Small Enterprises Ombud Service Bill, our focus on late payments and early-stage funding for SMEs, the need to exempt SMEs from regulations and bargaining council extensions and focus on exports, amongst others.

One topic it does not dwell on is the role of the informal economy in the broader economy. I will be sending my comments to the Treasury on this and other matters. Send comments to