South Africa Government

10/22/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/22/2020 01:30

Premier Sihle Zikalala: Speaking points during debate on South Africa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan

Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Thandi Modise;

Chairperson of the NCOP, Mr Amos Masondo;

His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa;

His Excellency, Deputy President David Mabuza;

Honourable Members;

On the 15th of October, President Ramaphosa presented to the joint sitting of Parliament South Africa's Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.

I wish to join the President in pledging solidarity with our citizens for their sacrifices, patriotism, and extraordinary resilience as we face the pandemic and our socio-economic headwinds.

We remain inspired by the goodwill and fortitude of our people. In 'Long Walk to Freedom', founding President Nelson Mandela says this about South Africans: 'My country is rich in minerals and gems that lie beneath its soil, but I have always known that its greatest wealth is its people, finer and truer than the purest diamonds.'

On the approach to Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, we fully agree with you Honourable President Ramaphosa that it can never be business as usual. As you say, to embrace the 'new normal' our great nation must, 'rebuild, repair and restore our country not after COVID, but in the midst of COVID'.

Understanding the enormity of our challenges and the need to act now to implement the plan, we wish to assure the people of South Africa that we are on course to use this historical moment to make a 'rupture with the past' and achieve 'fundamental and lasting change' that will deliver a South Africa which is truly united, non-racial, non-sexist, equal and prosperous.

The objectives which is to create jobs, reindustrialise the economy and accelerate investments respond direct to the devastating catastrophe imposed by Covid-19 on our economy but will effectively go a long way in addressing the persistent apartheid legacy of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

This plan partly responds to the call for economic restructuring which should find expression through the overhaul the economic structure.

On infrastructure build programme, we believe the focus on social infrastructure such as schools, water, sanitation and housing for the benefit of our people. We see this as both immediate stimulus which will unleash immediate job opportunities, but will also serve as the enablers for future economic development which feed on other economic sectors.

Critical to this plan is the localisation wherein all building material would be manufactured domestically. Infrastructure provides opportunities for skilled and unskilled labour.

Your Excellency President Ramaphosa, as KwaZulu-Natal, welcome the infrastructure plan and we believe it will expedite the implementation of the strategic projects such uMzimkhulu Dam which will provide people of Ugu and Harry Gwala with water. This will expediate ports development, including Durban port, which is biggest port in Sub Saharan Africa, and carries about 60% cargo for our country. Ports development remain critical for enhancement the country's trade competitiveness. Our primary interest is for our country to enhance domestic production and increase its export markets.

Honourable Members, in KZN we are finalising the establishment of the KwaZulu-Natal Strategic Infrastructure Development Agency (SIDA) to accelerate radical economic transformation.

We will use the SIDA to implement the Provincial Infrastructure Master Plan and transform the construction, maintenance and management of the infrastructure sector.

The construction sector contributes about 4% to total Gross Geographical Output of the Province. It employs 219 613 made up of 134 585 in the formal sector and 85,028 in the informal sector.

The sector has value chains with almost every sector such as metals fabrication, plastic, forestry, timber, glass, steel industry, mining and quarrying as well as tooling.

The sector is also dominated by youth, SMMEs, informal players and we are reprioritising budgets towards high impact projects.

The apartheid regime failed to enhance export, and since the democratic breakthrough, we continue to see more trade balance between exports and imports. As reported by Stats-SA and highlighted by the President in his last week address, it is welcome news that last year, South Africa recorded its first trade surplus with the European Union, driven by record exports of manufactured goods.

Growth exportation is the reflection of the domestic production growth, which has a potential to grow employment, but this growth should be anchored on diverse and inclusive economic ownership which include blacks, women, youth, and people with disabilities.

We stand firm against high economic concentration which thrive on monopolistic tendencies. We equally remain firmly opposed to imperialism whether it comes from West or East. Ours is mutual trade which develops domestic economies and eradicate poverty as a commitment to achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Honourable Members, the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan talks to Agriculture and Agro-processing which remains critical for food security for our country and exportation. In this regard, we applaud the work that is currently underway on land redistribution. In the 2020 State of the Nation Address, the President indicated that the state will release 700 000 hectares of land to enhance black participation in Agriculture.

On 1 October 2020, the Minister Didiza, announced that the state is ready to release land and fulfil the undertaking made by President Ramaphosa in the SONA in February. This process has identified 21 farms in KwaZulu-Natal measuring approximately 9307 hectares. The criteria include the prioritization of women, youth and people living with disabilities. This land will be advertised by the national Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development before the end of this month.

As reported in this house before, KwaZulu-Natal remain steadfast on the implementation of Radical Economic Transformation, hence we are progressing with Radical Socio-Agrarian Transformation, wherein we support small-scale farmers through logistical implements, mentoring and sustainable government and private sector markets. As a result, women owned entities are benefiting through the Government School Nutrition Programme as well as retail stores where they supply vegetables on weekly basis.

We are equally on track on the programme of building four agri-hubs which will ensure processing of all agricultural products, including vegetable crops and livestock, for all our eleven districts.

While many industries were hard-hit by Covid-19, Agriculture has remained as one amongst those resilient sectors and have a great potential for our country.

Thus, normalising relations between farmers and farm workers requires our undivided attention. We should address farm killings and at the same time deal with exploitation which have seen farm workers and dwellers leaving in appalling conditions and their livestock which is sometimes impounded by farmers.

The plight of people living on farms remain very much similar as defined by Sol Plaatjie, in his classic, 'Native Life in South Africa'. Plaatjie writes about the devastating impact of the 1913 Land Act through the Kgobadi family that was removed on the farm and the death of their child whom they had nowhere to bury. Plaatjies says:

'The deceased child had to be buried, but where, when, and how? This young wandering family decided to dig a grave under cover of the darkness of that night, when no one was looking, and in that crude manner the dead child was interred - and interred amid fear and trembling, as well as the throbs of a torturing anguish, in a stolen grave, lest the proprietor of the spot, or any of his servants, should surprise them in the act. Even criminals dropping straight from the gallows have an undisputed claim to six feet of ground on which to rest their criminal remains, but under the cruel operation of the Natives' Land Act little children, whose only crime is that God did not make them white, are sometimes denied that right in their ancestral home.'

Even today some people on farms have no burial sites, no access to water and electricity, thus enjoy no human rights. As the ANC, we remain committed to build a prosperous society where these heinous conditions will be thrown to the dustbin of history.

We will focus on critical network infrastructure such as ports, roads and rail that are key to our economy's competitiveness.

We have taken steps to remove the constraints that have hampered infrastructure delivery in the past.

To ensure that there is active implementation of our infrastructure-built programme, we have established Infrastructure SA and the Infrastructure Fund with the capacity to prepare and package projects.

The South African Economic Reconstruction and Recovery plan announced by the President comes at an opportune time when the Provincial Government of KwaZulu-Natal has formulated the Economic Reconstruction and Transformation plan which is aimed at recalibration of the economic growth trajectory of the province following the Covid-19 induced economic crisis.

The KwaZulu-Natal Economic Reconstruction and Transformation plan is aligned with the national Economic Reconstruction and Recovery plan and covers:

  • Agriculture, agro-processing and land Reform;
  • Industrial Development/ Manufacturing with great focus on Automotive sector, pharmaceuticals and Clothing and Textile;
  • Oceans economy with Durban/Ethekwini positioned as maritime hub of the African Continent
  • Tourism and support Creative Industries, Sports and Culture;
  • Infrastructure development (Economic, Roads, rail, social, housing, hospitals and schools);
  • Renewable Energy;
  • A thriving Small and Micro Enterprises.

Honourable Members, the province of KwaZulu-Natal has identified a number of opportunities for localisation of a number of the products that the province and the country are importing which can be produced locally. We highly support the commitment by President to accelerate the Public Procurement Bill to provide for localisation and set asides for local enterprises. This will allow exploration of varied industrial value chain for localisation.

In KwaZulu-Natal, we are promoting the localization of value chains in the following specific industries and many others where there is potential.

We agree with you Honourable President that government should provide a focused support programme for SMMEs as they 'offer the greatest untapped potential for growth, employment and fundamental economic transformation.'

Through the packaged support for SMMEs:

  • KZN has allocated R18, 3 million from the Operation Vula Fund to support fifteen (15) existing small enterprises in the toilet paper manufacturing.
  • R11, 790 million has been committed to support fifteen (15) existing small enterprises in bakery and confectionery,
  • R256 million has been committed to support eighty seven (87) existing small enterprises in the clothing and textile sector. We are promoting the Buy Local campaign.
  • R5, 4 million has been committed to support five (5) small enterprises detergents and chemical cleaning products manufacturing.

Honourable Members, allow me to report that notwithstanding the devastation of Covid-19, the tourism industry in the province is weathering the storm. The hospitality industry in Durban has reported more than 60% occupancy rate since the progression to Alert Level 1. As we move to the festive season, I invite you to take a short left to the beautiful and hospitable province of KwaZulu-Natal.

I am sure that you will find a people hard at work to turn our economic adversity into opportunities for radical economic growth and transformation.

I thank you.