DA opposes Small Enterprise Development Bill due to excessive discretionary powers for Ministers

Issued by Heinz de Boer, MPL – DA KZN Spokesperson on EDTEA
09 Apr 2024 in Press Statements

While the intent and spirit of the Small Enterprise Development Bill is to be commended, the ANC government has – at a national level – again made a mockery of proper public participation processes.

Nationally, the select committee hurriedly adopted a public participation programme between 26 October and 19 November 2023, which saw the committee travel through all nine provinces and attend 26 public meetings, of which seven were scheduled during weekends.

Despite the DA’s objections to the programme being adopted, the ANC bulldozed it through. Similarly, the ANC believes it can push the draft legislations through the National Assembly this year – and through the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

The DA largely supports the establishment of the Office of the Small Enterprise Ombud Service. However, like much of the legislation recently bandied about, these new proposed Bills give Ministers wide discretionary powers. It also enables the Minister to declare certain practices, in relation to small enterprises, to be prohibited as unfair trading practices.

While the DA concedes support for the amalgamation of Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) and Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA), as well as the establishment of the Ombudsman, we remain extremely concerned about the Ministers powers to declare certain yet unknown business practices as “unfair”.

At best, this is an attempt to meddle in the affairs of Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME’s). At worst, it is probably a backdoor for more radical empowerment legislation.

The ANC-run government’s ongoing obsession with emboldening Ministers, coupled with the shocking performance of many Ministers must serve as a clarion call for rational legislation to be passed.

The arrest of senior Members of Parliament in recent days has clearly shown the need for curtailing ministerial power. This bill serves as a prime example of good intent being subverted by political power mongering at its worst.