Durban – ETHEKWINI Municipality’s attempts to improve the spending power of Africans – under the age of 35 – by excluding Indians and coloureds from an official car auction drew widespread criticism this week.
The event was officially dubbed a radical economic transformation (RET) auction. It involved the selling off of various used municipal vehicles from the city fleet site and was advertised in a newspaper which stipulated that it would only allow the participation of young people from townships as well as military veterans.
The event stemmed from a promise made during a conference on RET earlier this year, where the eThekwini Municipality said it would – through business associations – accelerate interventions to achieve “economic emancipation and equality” for previously marginalised businesses.
As a result, only those registered on the National Military Veterans’ database, and those under the age of 35 who lived in townships or communities under traditional authorities, were allowed to bid and buy at the municipal auction.
However, people classified as Indian and coloured told the Sunday Tribune that they shouldn’t have been excluded because they also lived in townships and were also previously disadvantaged. Some of them said they had registered for the auction but were not allowed to enter the auction premises and bid during the event.
It was alleged that members of Delangokubona Business Forum and MK military veterans prevented Indians from entering the venue where the auction took place.
City spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said there was no deliberate exclusion of people by race, but the city wanted to give everyone a “fair chance”. Mayisela said there were 200 vehicles and only 100 were auctioned on Thursday.
“We will be having another auction in January where everyone will be allowed to take part.
“In previous years, you would find that people from rural areas and townships went back empty-handed because those with buying power push the price too high in a way that some people couldn’t afford.
“We wanted to give previously disadvantaged people an opportunity to get something. Those who want to take part are welcome at our next auction in January,” he said.
Reggie Cele, spokesperson for the Federation for Radical Economic Transformation, said having an exclusive auction helped to equip the poor, who were able to bid.
“Almost everyone who was at the auction went home with something, unlike in other auctions where one person or group takes more than 10 (cars). It’s an open secret that well-established car dealers buy these cars in bulk and fix them.
“This denies poor people an opportunity to own just one car. But by having such an auction it gives everyone a fair chance,” Cele said.
Vishay Chundar from Chatsworth said the municipality was unfair to Indians because they were also previously disadvantaged.
“I have been to a number of auctions for buying cars, but I was never treated like I was.
“We were denied access to the premises and we could not buy even a single car.
“We also have small businesses and should have a chance to buy plant equipment.
“We should be given equal opportunities as Africans. We also live in the township,” Chundar said.
This report does not necessarily reflects the opinion of SA-news.