After many years of appeals, forums, meetings and protests by the business owners to get attention from government, the tenants at the NU 11 business complex now feel despondent.
The above mentioned complex is one of many small business centres built by the governments of the former homelands ( Ciskei and Trasnkei ), in the late 70’s and early 80’s to encourage communities to start businesses. They offered spaces and workshops for a range of services such as welding, appliance repairs, hair salons, sewing, car repairs, battery centre and a glass fitment to name just a few. Unfortunately, in the then Republic of Ciskei some centres were vandalised in the early 1990’s when the homelands were done away with, and a few that are still standing are in a neglected state.
Once a vibrant place of business and full of hope, the NU 11 premises in Mdantsane is now in a state of dilapidation from broken windows, gloomy walls, fallen and torn fence, visible electric wires, tall grass and old cars which are an eye-saw to both owners and customers.
Vuyisa Rasimeni who has taken over the running of his late father’s battery charging business feels great sadness that his father died having not realised his wish of seeing the complex being given the attention it deserves.
“This was my father’s pride and joy which he opened in 1983 when it was under the Ciskei Development Coperation ( CDC ), which looked after it well. Over the years he witnessed the place changing for the worst state it is today, and he passed away recently after fighting tirelessly to restore it to its former glory, but to no avail,” he said.
Committee member Margaret Jajula who has been running her business there since 2005, said that they have lost hope of getting help from ECDC.
“All they want from us is the money for electricity, they do nothing for us. Our only hope is to apply for section 21 so that we can be allowed to run this place because we believe we can do a better job.”
Bigboy Mdibaniso owns a panel beating business at one of the two run-down small businesses in Dimbaza, he also feels that the government is failing them because they have also been trying to get their attention but are ignored.
“We have to use our cars to fetch water because there is none here, the toilets are broken and there is no fencing. We have been asking government to fix this place so that we can pay rent but we are told ECDC owes them a huge bill,” he said.
The dire situation has led to Mdibaniso contemplating shutting down the business but his sympathy for the five permanent employees has kept him going.
Government has been encouraging people especially the youth to start their own businesses so as to help fight the scourge of unemployment, which has reached alarming proportions in the country. With such lack of support for existing struggling businesses, this leaves the question as to whether the powers that be are serious about helping the destitute or are just selling people false hope.