Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams unravelling red tape or tying new knots?

Issued by Jan de Villiers MP and Henro Kruger MP –
14 Jun 2023 in News

 The Democratic Alliance (DA) acknowledges the introduction of the National Small Enterprise Amendment Bill, 2023 into Parliament, a legislative move that aligns with our long-standing recommendations.

A key feature of the bill is the proposed merger of the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), the Co-operative Banks Development Agency (CBDA), and the Small Enterprise Financing Agency (Sefa) into the newly established Small Enterprise Development Finance Agency (SEDFA). This is a step in the right direction. The DA has always championed for a streamlined, efficient public sector that minimises the number of overlapping entities. By reducing bureaucracy, we can better deter the exploitation of government positions, an unfortunate trend often observed within the ANC’s governance approach. This consolidation will ensure more effective deployment of resources, leading to a more dynamic, supportive environment for our nation’s small enterprises.

Another promising aspect of the Bill is the establishment of the Office of the Small Enterprise Ombud Service. This initiative is long overdue, as the lack of appropriate regulation in relationships between small and big businesses has been a gaping void in our legislative landscape and has left small businesses vulnerable to predatory behaviour from larger entities. Current dispute resolution mechanisms have failed to provide the necessary protection to small enterprises that often bear the financial burden of unresolved disputes, a situation that has been detrimental to the survival and growth of the sector.

Interestingly, the Small Business Development Committee, dominated by ANC members, recently tabled a similar bill. We are puzzled by the apparent lack of coordination within Government. It seems the ANC, in its haste to adopt the DA’s ideas, has become entangled in its own bureaucratic web, and now risks a delay in the Ombud Service’s establishment.

Notably, the DA, in the previous Parliament, tabled a Private Members Bill proposing the establishment of a similar Ombud Service. However, the ANC majority, unfortunately, rejected it.

While we welcome the above developments, the Bill does contain provisions that raise significant concerns. One such provision grants the Minister the power to declare certain practices relating to small enterprises as unfair and to regulate them. The exact nature of these “unfair practices” remains unclear, creating an environment ripe for overregulation. Overregulation is a bane to entrepreneurial spirit and innovation, stifling the growth of small businesses, and hindering economic growth.

As proponents of an enterprising economy, the DA has consistently advocated for a business environment free from stifling red tape, particularly for the small business sector, which forms the backbone of our economy. Therefore, we will be writing to Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams seeking further clarification on this vaguely worded provision.

We urge the ANC to ensure coherence in its legislative efforts, to avoid confusion and to facilitate the swift implementation of these much-needed reforms. The DA will continue its advocacy for an enabling environment for small businesses, as we firmly believe in their potential to drive inclusive growth in South Africa.

Be part of the mission to rescue South Africa, register correctly to vote now at