KZN: Radical Economic Transformation will be key in ensuring economic liberation

His Majesty the King Goodwill Zwelithini opening the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature at the Royal Show Grounds in Pietermaritzburg on 27.02.18

The radical economic transformation programme will be central in ensuring economic freedom for millions of people in KwaZulu-Natal. Today, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu presented the State of the Province Address, an event which was attended by the former President of the Republic of South Africa Jacob Zuma.

In his address, Mchunu acknowledged that it has been difficult to grow an inclusive economy and to create jobs within the context of slow international and national economic growth.

“We are however still on track to achieve our 2020 economic targets as measured against a 1% growth trajectory and our aim is to work ourselves to a 3% growth trajectory as soon as possible. We currently have 2.536 million people in employment and we have created more than 100 000 jobs over the last year. More will have to be done to address unemployment and in particular youth unemployment which now stands at 38.6%.”

Mchunu further pointed out: “ We understand that inclusive, expanded and sustained economic output is a fundamental driver for job creation and shared economic growth. In this regard we remain unwavering on Radical Economic Transformation.  There must therefore be a focus on the key drivers and sectors of the economy of KZN and increasing access to new entrants in a manner that will create employment.”

In the 2017 State of the Province Address, Mchunu committed the provincial government to improving the ease of doing business in KZN.  We are pleased to report that the Invest SAKwaZulu-Natal One Stop Shop was officially opened by our former President, Mr J G Zuma on 18 November 2017.

This initiative, managed by Trade and Investment KZN, was established through our engagement with our business partners and the KwaZulu-Natal Growth Coalition. This facility offers prospective investors a wide range of support services such as company registration, tax clearance, visa applications and all business registration requirements

Within the context of our Province and given the existing trends in global and national markets, Mchunu stressed that the focus of his government is in the short term, on agriculture, manufacturing and tourism. These sectors have been identified based on their potential to rapidly grow our economy and creating much needed employment.

“Our agricultural sector has gone through challenging times with unintended consequences of poor land reform implementation and the recent drought. Prospects in this sector are none the less looking much better. The Agriparks Programme, which is rolled out in our Province in collaboration with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is aimed at facilitating the participation of black people in production and agro-processing value chains beyond the farm gate.”

“In the year ahead we will strengthen the agriculture sector by expanding its strong linkages with the manufacturing sector and refocussing our Agri-Village Programme. We will convene an Agricultural Summit in 2018 to involve all stakeholders in this sector to identify challenges and seek solutions on how best to support our emerging farmers to use their land productively, growing a shared economy, creating employment and securing food for the nation.”

Mchunu was quick in emphasizing radical intervention in order to fast-track the entry of people from previously disadvantaged communities into the mainstream economy.

“We are aware that impediments to competition and high entry barriers impose structural constraints on inclusive growth and these are extremely challenging for new entrants to the mainstream economy. Many of these obstructions to a shared economy will require a “radical” intervention from government to open up new opportunities without stifling the growth.

“We are confident that we will achieve positive outcomes through the Radical Economic Transformation Programme in 2018, focussing on our Operation Vula, which includes inter alia the Radical Agrarian Socio-Economic Transformation (RASET) and the Black Industrialist Programmes.”

He further pointed out that the manufacturing sector remains the bedrock of our economy and its ability to sustain and create new employment opportunities are well known. With the upswing in global markets, this sector can achieve our ambition to become an African hub for local beneficiation and the export of value added products.

“We are encouraged by the progress our Special Economic Zones (SEZs) have made at Dube Tradeport and in Richards Bay, and we will expand this model to other industrial hubs throughout the Province. This requires a collective effort to ensure that we have appropriately zoned and serviced land readily available to attract new investors in the manufacturing sector.”

“On the tourism front we have experienced phenomenal growth with King Shaka International Airport’s (KSIA) annual passenger throughput having increased by more than 1 million since the opening of the Airport in 2010. Over this period international passenger numbers have increased by 90%. KSIA registered an overall passenger growth of 6.4% in 2017, the highest among all South African Airports.”

KZN hosted the World Economic Forum on Africa in May 2017. This event attracted 800 of the largest companies in Africa as well as global Fortune 500 businesses and provided an unrivalled opportunity to showcase investment and collaboration opportunities in the Province.

“We are excited about prospects of growing a shared economy in our tourism sector through strong public, private collaboration in building the required tourism infrastructure, to create an environment where local and foreign visitors would love to work, live and play,” Mchunu quipped.

“We need to attract investment to gradually develop low-end tourism destinations in rural areas and the periphery where the majority of our population live. We must move beyond the point from where our communities are mere observers in the tourismsector, to where they can become active participants and true tourism ambassadors for our Country and Province.”

“We will further support developments in our Blue- and Green Economies to ensure that we build on the gains we have made. We were honoured by our former President, Mr J G Zuma hosting the Presidential Stakeholder Engagement in our Province on 6 October 2017, for him to be briefed on the progress made with the nationwide implementation of Operation Phakisa. The fact that the boatbuilding industry is now partly revived in the Port of Durban and that our Tugs are now built here, is proof that we are making progress. The Provincial Maritime Incubator Programme is now established and provides much needed business training, mentorship, guidance and business support, targeting previously disadvantaged individuals, women and youth.”

“Our SMME and cooperative development and support programmes provide the mainstay of our quest for entrepreneurship development to broaden participation in a growing economy. Partnership agreements have been concluded with tertiary institutions in the Province to provide much needed business development training and incubator support.”

“In times of poor economic performance and sluggish employment creation, with rising unemployment, government cannot be a passive observer. Government has an important role to play in the manner that it procures and renders services. The Expanded Public Works Programme and other government-led job creation programmes provide an important bridging opportunity for new entrants to the labour market.”

These programmes provide experiential work opportunities for in-service training to enable members of marginalised communities, in particular women and the youth, to prepare themselves for real, meaningful and sustainable employment.

“Over the last year we created more than 41 000 full time equivalent jobs and 166 000 work opportunities through these Programmes and we aim to increase this by at least a further 10% by 2020,” Mchunu revealed.