Makhura delivered the keynote address at the official opening of Khato Holdings’s multi-million rand headquarters at the Midway Industrial Park at Samrand on Friday. Makhura turned his attention to Khato Holdings, praising the company for the R600 million headquarters. Properties on the premises include two office blocks, home to Khatho Civils and South Zambezi and a state-of-the-art workshop.
Khato Civils and South Zambezi are the construction and engineering arms of Khatho Holdings.
"I want to start by congratulating the team from South Zambezi and Khato for the hard work you have done, this is a phenomenal achievement, especially by a black company," said Makhura, adding that people who don’t have a permanent address are always suspicious.
"If you meet people and they can’t tell you where they come from, they have no address, they are very suspicious people. Especially if you meet businesspeople and they have no address, they are very, very suspicious people. The first thing that you need to do as a business is to have an address so that if I give you a job and things don’t go well, I know where to find you."
There is no more a powerful statement to make in business than to build your own place to say, said Makhura, adding that permanent premises communicate the message that “we do exist. It’s not just a rumour, we do exist.”
"The first thing that you need to do as a business is to have an address. The first business people I trust are those who have an address."
The premises, said the premier, were a powerful statement that Khato Holdings chairperson Simbi Phiri was a legitimate businessman and not "black by day and white by night".
Khato goes continental
Khato Civils chief executive Mongezi Mnyani thanked the government for entrusting black construction firms with construction work.
"We are now big players. We don’t regard ourselves as an emerging construction company anymore. You can’t be forever emerging. We are now as big as some of the well-known construction firms. We can do anything that they can do. We can build any stadium or freeway anywhere in the world."
Khato Civils is involved with a controversial mega water project in Giyani, Limpopo.
In 2014, the Department of Water and Sanitation gave a R500 million tender to LTE Consulting without going to tender.
The department later piled more contracts on LTE Consulting, without opening public bidding as required by the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), bringing the value of all work to over R2 billion.
Over the years Phiri has maintained that Khato Civils has done nothing wrong as the company was hired by LTE boss Thulani Majola to handle the construction.
On Friday he told City Press: "You can ask me any question about how construction is progressing there and I will tell you. Anything else, talk to Thulani Majola."
Phiri said Khato was now diversifying into Africa. "Our plan is to have 80% of our projects spread throughout the continent while 20% will be for the businesses we will be undertaking in South Africa. We hope to achieve that in three to five years."
Apart from various local projects such as the M1 Double Decker Bridge rehabilitation and upgrade in Johannesburg and the Giyani Water Project, the company has also been appointed to carry out the US$500 million Lake Malawi Water Supply Project.
The project is designed to pump and deliver 50 million litres of potable water from Lake Malawi into the capital Lilongwe and some neighbouring districts. The company also has operations in Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Namibia.
Phiri said the new premises were part of a strategy that delivers turnkey construction projects using their own equipment and personnel.
"We have professional experts. We have also invested in training. Our success is heralded by the best personnel we have. While many companies hire equipment, we use our own. Khato Civils and South Zambezi have a fleet of trucks, graders, diesel tanks, front loaders, trenchers, abnormal trailers, excavators, and tipper trucks."
Credit: City Press