Fri Oct 21 17:10:29 CAT 2016


By unknown | Jul 23, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

ANC SECRETARY-general Gwede Mantashe this week pointed out how jobs for pals in the public sector was making a mockery of Affirmative Action and Black Economic Empowerment.

ANC SECRETARY-general Gwede Mantashe this week pointed out how jobs for pals in the public sector was making a mockery of Affirmative Action and Black Economic Empowerment.

It is the black economic empowerment aspect of Mantashe's outcry that rang my bell.

It reminded me of the case of a Soweto-born young man who pulled himself up by his bootstraps and opened a car-wash in a Chinese Mall.

This one is situated along Xavier Road in the Gold Reef area outside Johannesburg.

My first experience with these malls was in Beijing where they are centres for one-stop shopping.

One can buy anything from a fridge to tailor-made silk suit from these outlets.

The haberdasheries in these malls are normally ran by yellow-toothed old Chinese men in horn-rimmed spectacles who give their customers the choice to decide what label they want on their newly made suits.

The labels in stock range from Gucci to Louis Vuitton. Now we know where those ill-fitting "designer" suits normally worn by some of our Members of Parliament come from.

Vusi, I later learned that it was the young man's name, although most of his customers called him "Mhlekazi" because that is how he addressed his male clientele, ran a tight outfit with a team of diligent car-wash attendants.

They provided an excellent service, charging only R30 for their efforts.

Many a Saturday my friends and I went to the car-wash, watching our dirty vehicles being turned into shiny machines.

Another attraction about Vusi's car-wash was the social banter, both the clientele and his team engaged in, as well the camaraderie that prevailed at the place.

Now Vusi's car-wash has been taken over by the landlord at the mall who has increased the charge to R40.

About two months ago I went to Vusi's car-wash and found a notice saying the place was closed for renovations.

When I visited the place last week I noticed that some shelters for the cars had been erected.

In the place of Vusi there was a surly Chinese girl in (you guessed right) horn-rimmed spectacles and ill-fitting "Made in China" jeans who oversaw the whole operation.

One member of Vusi's former squad, who still works there, told me that Vusi left because the landlord demanded an exorbitant rent. When he complained, the landlord showed him the door and took over the operation.

The free marketers will most probably dismiss this as a case of competition in a free market.

My suspicion is that the landlord saw Vusi's roaring trade and wanted to squeeze more money out of him.

My source at the car-wash complained about the peanuts the new boss was paying them. He revealed that Vusi paid them better. He went on to indicate that business was also slow.

There are three things that made Vusi's place a real case of black economic empowerment. It was located in a busy place where he had abundant clientele. He provided quality service that made his clientele happy. He created employment for other young people.

All these have come to nought.

From an employer, Vusi has joined the ranks of the unemployed youth.

I am told that now and then he comes to "temp" and is paid peanuts by the new owner.

We are even told that the business might not be sustainable.

What happened to Vusi was because of the landlord's greed, who, incidentally, in terms of the laws of this country, qualifies as a beneficiary of Black Economic Empowerment.


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