The integrated industry waste-tyre management plan unveiled by Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa earlier this month but withdrawn last week was allegedly “hijacked” from the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) and one of its constituent associations.
The plan by the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of SA (Redisa) was previously approved by the department but the approval was withdrawn last week. This followed the SA Tyre Recycling Process Company (SATRP) lodging an application at the South Gauteng High Court to interdict Molewa and Redisa from implementing the plan and to order Molewa to provide it with a timeframe to resubmit its own proposal.
Over the past 12 years the SATRP has spent R9 million to develop its waste-tyre plan. The organisation, which represents 70 entities it claims comprise about 85 percent of the formal tyre and motor vehicle industry in South Africa, withdrew its court application on Friday after it was given until April 30 to resubmit its plan.
Jeff Osborne, the RMI’s chief executive, said on Friday that its waste-tyre plan was hijacked by Hermann Erdmann, then the national chairman of the Tyre Dealers’ and Fitment Association (TDAFA) and now the chief executive of Redisa.
Osborne said the TDAFA’s plan was submitted to the department but then withdrawn and changed and renamed Redisa by Erdmann, with ownership also reverting to Erdmann, who would profit commercially from it. This was done by Erdmann without the mandate and involvement of TDAFA members and had cost the TDAFA R600 000, he said.
Osborne said there was huge unhappiness about this, which resulted in a vote of no confidence in Erdmann at a TDAFA national executive committee meeting last year.Osborne said Erdmann had acknowledged that TDAFA funds had been used to develop the Redisa plan and agreed to repay the costs once it was implemented.
He said the Redisa plan had been approved by the department without it being gazetted for public comment. The RMI’s view was also that the waste-tyre regulations made provision for multiple players but this multimillion-rand business was to be given to one entity, which would result in a monopolistic situation.
Erdmann said allegations that he had hijacked the TDAFA’s plan were “totally untrue”. However, Erdmann admitted that he had undertaken to repay the association for money spent on the plan and confirmed that he had received an invoice from the RMI for R600 000, although he believed only about R400 000 was owed.
Erdmann denied he had resigned as TDAFA national chairman after a vote of no confidence, claiming that he did so because the Competition Commission and the government believed he should not be sitting on any industry body.
Etienne Human, the chief executive of the SATRP, said on Friday that it had launched the court application because the Redisa plan had not followed the procedure laid down in the waste-tyre regulations. It also wished to get the minister to answer the SATRP’s request to provide the reasons for the rejection of the company’s plan and provide a date by which it could re-submit its plan.
Human said the SATRP had received an e-mail in May last year indicating the department was happy with its plan and all the required modifications.He said the department had confirmed the SATRP’s plan and the minister had signed gazetting documents on July 22 last year but there had been a delay in it being gazetted.
Redisa had then entered the market and the ministry had embraced Redisa and its plan to the exclusion of others, particularly the SATRP. Human said that in an apparent about-turn, the minister notified the SATRP on November 15 that its proposal had been rejected, and gave notice to Redisa approving its plan.
“That there is foul play at work is obvious,” he said. – Roy Cokayne