27 April 2010 | Neil Oelofse in South Africa
A leading Swaziland business organisation has called for the government to favour women-owned firms in a new Procurement Bill.
Zodwa Mabuza, CEO of the Federation of Swaziland Employers and Chamber of Commerce, told SM: “We are lobbying lady members of parliament and senators for the inclusion of a clause that will discriminate positively.”
As a signatory to the Southern African Development Community’s Gender and Development Protocol, Swaziland’s government should empower women through its procurement policies, Mabuza said.
The United Nations (UN) pledged that this year its agencies working in Swaziland would source 50 per cent of goods and services from female-owned companies. “We would like to use the UN Development Programme model as a benchmark,” said Mabuza.
The Swazi Finance Ministry’s small and medium enterprises (SME) unit director Michael Zwane has promised some government tenders will go to women, but it is feared without a clause in the bill, not enough will be done.
The Chamber of Commerce has launched its first women-owned businesses directory to help women access opportunities. Mabuza said the directory would particularly help businesswomen who lack profile because they work from home.
Lungile Mzizi, a project manager at the Business Women’s Forum of Swaziland, told the AllAfrica news agency her organisation would use the directory to lobby government and encourage businesswomen to buy from, and partner with, other women-owned firms.