By Janet Semple MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Economic Development:
Gauteng economic development MEC Lebogang Maile has launched a forensic investigation into the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP).
In a letter addressed to the DA, MEC Maile agreed to investigate allegations of corruption and nepotism at the agency, and that the forensic team seconded from the Provincial Treasury had already started its work.
During a portfolio committee on Friday, Deputy Director General Makhukhu Mampuru confirmed that the investigation had started, in the process painting a picture of a government agency in crisis:
- More than R100 million in loans have been unpaid for the past 10 years;
- The former CEO and chairperson have both resigned in the past two months;
- Targets are not being met; and
- Beneficiaries were given letters confirming grants, but none have been received.
It is clear that the GEP is unable to support emerging businesses and to transform them into successful enterprises that provide jobs and make meaningful contributions to our economy.
What is required is a re-think of GEP’s role, and the Department for Economic Development should spend more time and effort concentrating on removing conditions that make it difficult to business, and leave loans and mentoring to people and organisations who specialise in business start-ups.
Business owners need a variety of skills to grow and remain competitive in a tough marketplace, and this gap will not be filled by throwing more money at the problem.
While the DA anxiously awaits the outcome of the investigation, we will continue to engage with the MEC so as to reconsider the way the GEP goes about its business, and to transform it into an effective business development body.