The Master Builders Association (MBA) North has come out to condemn the growing trend of infrastructure projects being hijacked around the country under the guise of transformation.

According to Kwakho Mpepho, Education and Transformation Manager at MBA North these lawless actions must be condemned because they compromises genuine transformation and will ultimately risk job cuts.

“We have noted with concern that attempts to hijack infrastructure construction projects in KwaZulu-Natal, by criminal consortiums under the guise of transformation, is spreading to Gauteng

“The Department of Trade and Industry created Black Economic Empowerment Codes to ensure that transformation takes place in an orderly manner, and that its results are able to be reported. The industry has bought into these codes,” says Mpepho.

“Unregistered entities who use transformation as a cloak to disguise illegal business practices are simply common or garden-variety criminals. Their actions have the potential to derail an entire industry.”

Enormous pressures

He goes on to explain that the construction industry is already facing enormous margin pressures, with many of the larger firms facing the prospect of bankruptcy or, at best, business rescue – with a knock-on effect on smaller firms. The added financial and emotional pressure of having to deal with criminal extortion could increase their vulnerability.

The construction industry is responsible for approximately 10% of total formal and informal employment in South Africa, and 16% of informal employment. However, the current poor economic conditions have meant that the sector is shedding jobs. In the second quarter of 2017, 110 000 construction jobs were lost, the highest of any sector.

“Construction should be seen as a national resource when it comes to providing jobs and also for its contribution to creating the infrastructure a modern economy needs,” says Mpepho. “We cannot afford for this vital industry to be ‘captured’ by criminals.