Johannesburg - The Black Business Council has accused
Passenger Rail Service SA (Prasa) of sidelining black business when the
parastatal issued a multi-billion rand tender to acquire train coaches.
BBC secretary general Sandile Zungu said the organisation
would, on behalf of all black business, “record our serious reservations at the
approach that Prasa has announced” regarding its “acquisition programme for
rolling stock (coaches)”.
The government announced in April that it will pump R4bn into Prasa over the next three years for the rolling stock acquisition
“Suggesting that black business must wait until a suitable
foreign contractor has been selected, is tantamount to saying black people have
no role to play and therefore no value to add in bid stages, technical and
financial work,” said Zungu.
“Prasa is suggesting that black people do not have the
skills. Why can’t black people be involved in the tender process from the
start?” he asked.
“This suggestion is extremely dangerous as it feeds into the
stereotype that BEE is about handouts. With due respect, we reject such a
notion,” he said.
Zungu noted that the BBC was not trying to control state
Prasa Group CEO Lucky Montana said the BBC’s statement was
unfair and the council had not approached Prasa with their concerns.
“Prasa views the issue of BEE as a historic necessity in
economic transformation which is embedded in our Constitution” said Montana.
Prasa’s approach to procuring new rolling stock focuses on
unlocking fulfilling government’s industrial policy objective. “We are currently
involved in the bidding process where bidders are encouraged to submit their
proposals by September 10 2012,” he said.
Montana said the timing of the statement seemed to coincide
with key political discussions currently underway.
Prasa refused to comment without legal advice.
“Prasa is more than willing to engage with the BBC and to
address its concerns, however, individual bidders will engage Prasa through the
normal procurement processes” he said.