Association administrator, Ntando Tshabangu, said its membership has steadily increased from 35 at the beginning of 2009 to more than 200 currently.
“In January 2009 we had only 35 members due to the economic problems which led to most members cancelling their membership,” Tshabangu recalls. “We embarked on a membership drive which brought an increase to 103 members by the end of 2009. In the first quarter of 2010 membership increased to between 150 and 160 members, rising to more than 200 members by 2012”
He said there was a need for increased membership for the association to strengthen its voice on issues affecting the sector.
“It is my fervent wish that all engineering companies become members for purposes of lobbying. We have to speak with one voice and the game of numbers plays the trick as far as that is concerned.”
Tshabangu said the introduction of multi-currency use, especially the US dollar, posed problems for the members.
“Although the ushering in of multi-currency was greeted with pomp and fanfair, it soon created problems. Employers could not afford to pay salaries, forcing them to scale down operations as well as sending workers on forced leave,” he said.
Tshabangu said although the association is marking its 75th anniversary, it has gone through turbulent periods, especially during the economic downturn. The association, he said, had struggled but had prevailed through sheer determination and perseverance.
“ We have managed to survive because of the resilience and consistency of good leadership on the part of the association’s presidents, (both past and present), administrators and staff,” he noted.
Eisaz formed a six-member business council led by the association’s former president Peter Pyle to look at issues relating to business and trade. Each member of the association, Tshabangu said, had been tasked to focus on certain aspects of the business.
Tshabangu said the association was working with its members in a bid to fight the brain drain and retain skills for the industry. He said the industry’s reservoir of skills was hugely depleted during the construction of infrastructure in South Africa, including stadiums, when that country prepared for the Soccer World Cup in 2010. Tshabangu said Eisaz had now managed to reduce the rate at which the engineering sector was losing skills to other countries.
He revealed that Eisaz would be looking to set up offices in other towns to ensure convenience and efficiency as well as increasing its presence in the country.