By Bahle Gama
The Eswatini Contractors Association (ECA) Normalisation Committee has urged contractors to re-register and subscribe for membership while it deals with pending issues.
This decision was made after a discussion among members and the committee on whether they should register or not during a GMO meeting held at The Gorge Hotel on Tuesday.
During the meeting, it was discovered that since members were no longer subscribing for about two years as per a notice published by the Construction Industry Council, they were no longer eligible for membership and now have to register as new members.
The notice by CIC stated that members were to pay their subscription fees directly to the organisation and no longer to ECA. The news about having to reregister as new members despite the duration spent operating was not warmly welcomed by the members as suggestions on how to counter the decision began flying across the room, with some failing to hide their anger and disappointment.
The dissolving of their membership is according to Section 5.3 of the ECA which states that membership shall cease if the member fails to pay yearly subscriptions which have been the case for most of the members.
Chairman of the Committee Isaac Magagula said the gist of the meeting was to also give feedback to contractors as per their task to bring normalcy to the operations of the ECA.
He disclosed that operations at ECA were suspended by the Construction Industry Council (CIC) because there were no longer functional and members were no longer subscribing, “the organization was dead.”
The reason was that the committee appointed in 2019 had never held a meeting with its members to date, which resulted in some resigning and others being fired, the situation was labelled abnormal which resulted in the interim committee.
However, the Minister of Public Works and Transport presented a new CIC board which has been labelled as fraudulent and illegal by the members and normalization committee as some of the members are said to be those who quit and were fired from the ECA committee.
“We came to give feedback in terms of how far we have gone with that process, which includes issues like the appointment of CIC board members. The Minister ended up appointing people who were illegally representing ECA members who were nominated by then Chairman singlehandedly when by law, the members of the Association are supposed to nominate members of the board,” he said.
This according to Magagula has since been challenged in court, and going forward, as part of the normalisation process, “all contractors should come back and subscribe at ECA so that we can be able to put our house in order.”
The Chairman was echoed by a committee member Phesheya Hlatshwako who stated that as a committee they are interested in seeing their house in order, instead of aspiring for what they believe the previous executing, looking at the assumes they are ambitious.
“That is not what we want, more especially because if you look at our constitution and how we used it when we appointed them, they are in office illegally at CIC because some of them were fired and some resigned, which makes ECA’s operation unsteady,” he said.
He emphasised that as they go about trying to return things to normal, they must continue subscribing.
“We also have a huge task that we return to CIC because they have found themselves in the predicament of being non-members because of a communique that came from CIC, whom we continue to have a problem with and how operations are done.
He stated that the communique was so ambiguous to contractors and did not give a clear direction to members, and behind our back, they recognized people who continued to do so ultra to the instruction they had issued.
“All we are saying is we are interested in seeing our office functioning because our interest is in the contractors along with the masses they employ,” said Hlatshwako.
We want to also safeguard money belonging to emaSwati not to be enjoyed by non-Swati contractors, they can work with them because of a lack of expertise here and there, but all in all, we want to ensure that the money circulates within Eswatini and we retain and grow our economy.
Meanwhile, another member Sabelo Nhleko said that as everyone knows that construction brings about the most difficult activity, and it is very sad that there are fights like these taking place when a lot can be done with time.
He stated that the committee intends to be proactive and add value to the industry, in terms of influencing the allocation of funds and ensuring that the ground is levelled for newcomers, even big companies which are encountering challenges.
“We want the industry to thrive in Eswatini, and bigger companies know exactly what they need to do to grow the economy. We also wish to return the organization’s image and at the same time share ideas with the ministry as well as CIC for the industry to grow and move forward,” said Nhleko.