The Chairperson of the NCOP
As I unmute the speaker to address the honourable members, I wish to indicate that the people of KwaZulu-Natal have hope for a better future.
They are convinced that as elected public representatives, we will use this sitting, to debate plans that we have put in place to radically restructure and redevelop the economy of this province.
Over the past few months, we kept on assuring the people of KwaZulu-Natal of our determination to bridge the gap between them and prosperity.
Our Strategic Goal is Job Creation
Chairperson, today - we affirm our determination to turn COVID-19 into an opportunity.
Last week, Wednesday – the Provincial Executive Council approved the Economic Reconstruction and Transformation Plan. This plan was also presented before the KZN Economic Council held last Friday.
We view Job creation as a primary means through which economic growth and quick recovery can occur.
We want to achieve this by distributing the benefits of economic growth more widely and consequently reducing dependency on the welfare system.
Our strategic focus is the following:-
Creation of employment through unleashing agricultural potential;
enhancing industrial development through investment into the key productive sectors of Reviving the manufacturing Sector, Agricultural Sectors tourism, Informal Economy and SMEEs and Cooperatives, Telecommunications and Digital Economy, Oceans Economy, and the Green Economy and Renewable Economy, transport and logistics, and service sectors; and many others
Expansion of government-led job creation programmes, promoting SMMEs and Cooperatives and entrepreneurial development and promoting innovation and localisation.
Food Security – Job Opportunities
Chairperson, our greatest concern is that job losses have resulted into spiraling levels of poverty.
Many people have been retrenched and condemned to rural villages and peri-urban informal settlements with no means of survival.
In addition, spiraling food prices is rapidly increasing the number of people who are food insecure.
Last week we visited a farm that is funded by Ithala Development Corporation, through a Loan of R5milion through the programme called Imbokodo iyazenzela.
Another government entity, Agri Development Agency allocated more than R2 million for the acquisition of infrastructure such as fencing, irrigation, tractor, implements, delivery truck and a cold-room.
In total, more than R76 million has been set aside by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to assist women who are in farming.
The agricultural potential of KZN, the diverse topography, climate and the soil virtually make this province a “world-in-one.”
Instead of wallowing in self-pity, we are saying the lockdown regulations, which resulted in the disruption of global value chain, is a blessing in disguise. Indigenous people are being empowered to be self-sufficient and produce their own goods.
RASET - Radical Agrarian Socio-Economic Transformation Programme (RASET
Honourable members, we are firm in saying KwaZulu-Natal must no longer be the net importer of agricultural products.
Through the Radical Agrarian Socio-Economic Transformation Programme (RASET), we are utilizing our influence as a purchaser of goods and services to ensure the redistribution of wealth.
We identified products and services that should be provided by previously disadvantaged groups such SMMEs and co-operatives.
We have committed to double our efforts in order to remove the red tape in public procurement for the benefit of small players.
We are placing an emphasis on supporting the poor, who through our history of apartheid are locked in the vicious cycle of poverty.
We have successfully coordinated the procurement of perishable food through the 5 prioritized District Development Agencies (DDA) for 3 months. We have supplied emerging farmers with fifteen refrigerated trucks, ten bakes and ten two-ton trailers to transport food.
We are also supporting DDAs with revolving funds of about R15 million to pay the emerging famers on time.
More than 27 public hospitals and retail shops have been secured and are supplied agricultural products such as vegetables weekly by emerging farmers. The agricultural products are valued at more than R44 Million.
Our emerging SMMEs and Co-operatives involved in farming are supplying the following:-
PCK Distributors: Weekly orders for Potatoes, Cabbage, Green pepper, butternut and Banana.
Fieldcrest (Boxer agent): making weekly orders for Cabbage and butternut supplying Boxer Shops.
Port Natal (Market Agent): making weekly orders for Butternut and Cabbage
Agrihouse: making weekly orders for green papers, tomatoes, cabbage and butternut;
Oxford Market: for Lettuce, tomatoes, butternut, cabbage and potatoes;
Massmart is also purchasing goods from our emerging farmers.
Support to the Informal Economy – Small Players (SMMEs and Co-operatives)
Chairperson, shortly after lockdown, we set up One-Stop-Shop through our entity Trade & Investment KZN.
Since April 1, we have received more than 5000 enquiries in various forms such WhatsApp messages, emails, telephones etc.
Through the One-Stop-Shop, we have performed the following services:
Assisted SMME’s and companies to claim UIF benefits from Department of Labour and Employment;
Assisted SMME’s and companies to access Business Relief Funding Schemes;
Provided advisory services on which measures were available to smaller businesses, cooperatives or firms operating in the informal sector, and what has been the outcome of these;
Assisted KZN applicants to access national Temporary Relief Schemes which saw 1 805 KZN applicants being approved for TERS in April and May.
Honourable members, under the programme on debt relief provided by the national government, we wish to report the following:-
We assisted 270 SMMEs and saved 4 596 jobs. About of R97 million was approved for this purpose;
Under the Spaza Shops Support Programme, which focused on strengthening the purchase power of small players - about 401 spaza shops owned by the youth and women have been assisted with a total budget of R1, 4 million;
More than 607 businesses in the tourism sector have received funding from the National Tourism Fund. We can confirm that all these establishments received R50 000 each.
In addition, we wish to report that we supported 736 registered KZN Tourist Guides to apply for the Tour Guides Relief Fund. About 323 received funding, whilst 413 are being reassessed after found to be registered for UIF
Operation Vula – Assistance to Entrepreneurs
In addition Chairperson, our funding mechanisms for the small players have been strengthened with Operation Vula Fund allocating R18. 3 million.
This is for fifteen (15) existing small enterprises in the toilet paper manufacturing.
More than R11, 7 million has been allocated to support fifteen (15) existing small enterprises in bakery and confectionery in the township and rural areas. We want to ensure that every rural area has these bakeries.
An amount of R5, 4 million has been allocated to support five (5) small enterprises in detergents and chemical cleaning products manufacturing;
R25, 6 million has been committed to support eighty seven (87) existing small enterprises in the clothing and textile sector;
Skin and Hides Training
Honourable members, another area of focus is the training of communities within the various districts on skins and hides preservation and curing.
This training is part of feeding into the proposed Leather Processing Hub which we are establishing in Pietermaritzburg.
A total of 42 people have been trained in the uMgungundlovu and uThukela Districts. The training is being rolled out in other districts.
Over and above the skins and hides being beneficiated locally for the production of leather related goods and by products including the automotive industry, it is envisaged that the surplus skins, hides and leather will be destined for export.
Price Hikes – Support to Spaza Shops
Chairperson, during lockdown, our Consumer Protection Unit conducted worked with law enforcement agencies to monitor price hikes.
We received more than 3000 complaints related to price hikes. Owners of business were criminally charged for contravening the Consumer Protection Act Regulations and Disaster Management Act Regulations.
Businesses range from pharmacies, butcheries, to retail shops.
In view of the price hikes, we supporting Spaza Shops across the province.
In the next few weeks we will invite Spaza Shop owners to apply for a working capital of R100 000. This will help to acquire stock and to fund a shortfall of liquidity for SASSA pay-outs.
A grant facility of R50 000 will also be made available to Spaza Shop owners for the refurbishment of their outlets.
This will ensure compliance with Consumer and Customer Protection Regulations, as well as Environmental Health and Food Safety standards.
Critically, we have identified Ithala owned buildings and industrial parks across all municipalities. These are being converted into Bulk-Buying facilities where commodities required by Spaza Shops will be available at cheap prices.
SMME – Co-operatives – Rent holiday
Chairperson, Ithala has 1020 tenants, 969 of which were restricted from trading during COVID 19 lockdown
IDFC offered two forms of relief on a case by case basis: deferred rentals and discounted rentals as follows:
130 tenants requested relief and :
23 were granted deferred payment relief;
5 were not granted any as they operated during lockdown;
102 did not indicate interest in any form of relief.
Skilling of the People – Post COVID-19
Chairperson, on the issue of skilling - allow me to talk briefly about the importance of re skilling of the people of KwaZulu-Natal.
As government we have an enduring partnership with key industry role-players and civil society through various forums and Chambers Including Cooperatives, the KZN Economic Council and KZN Human Resources Development Council which is comprised of representatives of academic institutions.
We have began engagements with institutions of Higher Education with a view of ensuring that various industries are linked with institutions so as to ensure that we have the required skills for what the industry want to hire.
To this end we have done a Research to establish as to what are the Skills Gap between the Industries and the Communities of KZN.
We have checked what the market wants.
What are the important skills for the future work?
Our focus is on reskilling people who have been retrenched or lost their jobs in both informal and formal economies. We want them to be re-absorbed in other sectors or in the new businesses.
With their skills they could operate in the following areas:-
Electricians and plumbers;
Small scale famers and Large Farmers;
Catering and retail;
We have been having ongoing discussions with a number of industry players with a view of ensuring that we replace commodities that many industries have been obtaining from outside of South Africa particularly from India, China and Many other Countries.
To this Extent we already have Women who now Supply Uniliver with Sunlight dish washing gel which was previously obtained from China. We are compiling a list of many other commodities and helping small Business to manufacture and produce these many product taking advantage to the COVID -19 and the closure of Boarders.
There are other workers in the creative industry, tourism and many other sectors too many to mention. With the right training, we want them to become entrepreneurs capable of creating job opportunities in the townships and rural areas. Getting to producing even for the very same Hotels and Restaurants of retail businesses they used to work for.
We have been monitoring weekly a list of companies applying for Section 109; Companies that are applying for liquidation, or retrenching.
So far out of 62 Companies that applied for liquidation nationally only 12 were from KZN.
SMMEs in construction
Chairperson, the enhancement of industrial development and manufacturing is fundamental to the creation of employment and to growth and development within the Province.
Importantly, manufacturing sector contributes 17.4% to KZN Gross Value Added. A total of 334 714 people are employed in the sector, of which 295 557 are formal and 39 200 are in informal.
By intervening in the manufacturing sector, we want emerging small players such as SMMEs and Co-operatives to be involved in the entire value chain of manufacturing.
This will happen through ensuring a decentralised approach of SEZ Clothing and Manufacturing in the whole Province taking into cognisance Logistical arrangements.
Critically, we have identified our key strategic assets to be the catalysts of manufacturing and industrial development. These assets include Durban and Richards Bays Ports, the Richards Bay IDZ, the Dube Trade Port, new Clothing and Textile SEZ and Automotive Supplier Park which already before it could start has attracted Billions of investments from industry players such as Toyota etc.
Honourable members we wish to confirm that SMMEs and Co-operatives will be involved in the construction of manufacturing plants of two companies in Richards Bay IDZ.
The companies are Wilmar Palm Oil which is investing R1, 3 billion and Nyanza Light Metal – a chemical company investing R4, 3 billion. Construction should have started in March but was affected by the lockdown.
At the Dube Trade Port, there are 9 investments worth R3.2 billion that have been approved and are not yet operational due to lockdown. These investments presents opportunities for emerging small players and will create an estimated 2 342 direct jobs.
We have said, our entities such as KZN Growth Fund must provide much needed funding to the small players through Black Industrialists programme. This funding will enable these small players to participate meaningfully in the SEZs.
Chairperson, we are moving with speed to set up a Clothing and Textile SEZ in uThukela/Amajuba Corridor. The Textile Belt will integrate all projects around N3 and N2 corridors and share existing resources.
Clothing and Textile is the largest manufacturing employer in the province and one of the most labour intensive sectors. More than 90,000 people in the formal sector and close to 10,000 in the informal sector.
We have taken a decision to intervene in order to ensure the diversification of manufacturers from fashion to PPE because of high demand of PPE from local manufacturers. We are extending support to SMMEs and Co-operatives owned by women and the youth.
We are facilitating training on basics of garment design and different categories of fashion. We are empowering them with skills such as Drawing and Illustration, Basic Fashion Photography and Creative Computing.
Instead of importing from Asia and other continent, we are encouraging the Buy Local campaign.
SMMEs – Cooperatives and Digital Economy
Chairperson, we are also rolling out the digital infrastructure as part of fast-tracking the entry of previously marginalized people into the digital economy.
We are saying the people of KwaZulu-Natal, irrespective of where they live, the must have access to economic opportunities created by the 4IR.
The socio-economic benefits of Free Wi-Fi Hotpots and JL Dube Broadband include ensuring that:-
1. 2 million jobs are created over 5 years;
2. 2000 self-sustainable SMME’s are created over 5 years;
3. 80% of the population have access to affordable internet over 5 years;
4. 12% ICT Sector GDP growth in the Province over 5 years;
5. Locally manufactured technologies exported throughout the globe;
6. Fast and efficient government services made possible through e-Governance;
7. Highly skilled and capable human capital in the 4IR skills.
Chairperson and honourable members, when we do our work, we are often inspired by the pathfinders of this freedom.
Through their hard work, we are enjoying this freedom. But we are conscious of the fact that our freedom is not be complete while millions continue to live in poverty.
In addition, we are alive to the fact that this country is facing economic challenges that have resulted in budget cuts. Having said, it is important to remember what Kevin Dcruz once said:
“We don’t need to have deep pockets or be rich to help the needy, the poor and the hungry. We need to have a heart.”
Honourable Members, we offer to show the people of KwaZulu-Natal that we feel their pain and we offer not to disappoint them.
We will continue to rely on the National Council of Provinces as a critical pillar of our democratic dispensation. Synergising, as it does, the functioning of government at national, provincial and local levels, the NCOP is also about engendering participatory democracy and promoting inter-governmental relations.
We also recognize the importance of the Select Committees of NCOP in terms of interrogating strategic plans and budgets of departments - whether they are assisting in driving the transformation agenda.
We offer to work with the NCOP especially in monitoring and evaluating our work are a concurrent function of National and provincial governments.
These include education, health, social development and agriculture. NCOP must monitor and assess whether we are using state expenditure to stimulate the economy drive the transformation agenda.
Whilst we must all be proud of the successes notched by the democratic government over the years, we do not have the luxury of time to sit and bask in the glory of our success. The impatience of our people is growing.
We dare not fail the pathfinders of this freedom.
I thank you