President Cyril Ramaphosa's government is directly responsible for the recent jobs bloodbath, say small business owners who have had to close shop because the state, both national and provincial, owes them R7.1bn in unpaid invoices for services rendered.

The figure was revealed by Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni in a written reply to a parliamentary question from the DA last week, notes the Sunday Times.

The details showed that provincial departments (which owe R6.5bn) were the worst offenders.

Invoices should be settled within 30 days, according to government policy. Gauteng is the worst offender at R2.6bn, followed closely by the Eastern Cape, which racked up R2.1bn in unpaid invoices.

Struggling small business owners interviewed by the newspaper described how the non-payment of their invoices was killing their companies and forcing them to retrench workers.

DA MP Leon Schreiber, who put the question to Ntshavheni, accused the government of ‘crippling’ businesses, while it had no qualms about paying civil servants who are illegally doing business with the state.

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