South African industry and civil rights groups are pushing back against a draft procurement law aimed at supporting small businesses that were disadvantaged under White minority rule, warning that the measures are open to abuse.
The Public Procurement Bill requires the government to evaluate the ownership makeup and capabilities of small businesses when they bid for contracts before taking price considerations into account, Willie Mathebula, the National Treasury’s chief director for supply chain management: policy and legal, told lawmakers in Cape Town.
The Group Of Construction and Engineering Companies, the National Research Foundation, Corruption Watch and other groups criticized the law because it didn’t specifically exclude politically exposed people from winning deals.
The legislation also ignored a judicial panel that spent four years investigating state graft and recommended that procurement policy should focus on ensuring the government got value for money rather than on empowering the Black majority, they said.
Parliament’s finance committee will hold further deliberations on the draft law before deciding whether to refer it to the National Assembly for approval.