The Democratic Alliance in the Northern Cape has launched our Plan for Growth and Jobs as a first step toward building a policy platform for winning the 2014 provincial election.
For the first time, the people of the Northern Cape will be able to make a voting decision based on two starkly different economic directions for the province – the DA path of jobs, or the ANC path of cronyism and corruption.
The Plan is a collaborative effort between the Northern Cape provincial leadership and newly elected Provincial Leader in the Western Cape, Dr Ivan Meyer, who is with us today.
Given the province’s 35.8% unemployment rate, which includes people who have given up looking for work, the need for decisive leadership in provincial government has never been greater.
We believe that the DA’s Plan, much of which is already being implemented successfully where we govern, is the answer to the unemployment crisis in this province.
Key job creation proposals in the plan are:
- The establishment of a Jobs Zone in the John TaoleGaetsewe district to attract investment to the area. To attract business, the key characteristics of these Job Zones would be exemptions from labour legislation; tax and trade incentives for investors; and the prioritising of investors for preferential loans through the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).
- Fast-track roads and basic service infrastructure roll-out through Public Private Partnerships (PPP). This mixed financing approach will raise significantly more capital than direct state financing alone, and will contribute to mitigating the budget deficit while also ensuring that other budget priorities (such as social security) are not compromised.
- The DA would establish an independent not-for-profit economic agency to bring together public and private actors to guide the provincial economy’s development. The Economic Development Partnership (EDP) would be a membership-based organization headed by a Board of representatives. The EDP would seek to empower local and regional government, the private and non-profit sectors, and communities with the opportunity to work together to improve the local and regional economy. It would focus on enhancing competitiveness, increasing sustainable growth and ensuring that growth is inclusive.
- The DA would introduce a comprehensive government internship programme across all Departments to help bridge the “study-work” divide and equip recent graduates with valuable professional skills and knowledge. The DA would also scale up the current EPWP programme to provide temporary relief from unemployment. In contrast to how the EPWP is currently implemented, with a focus on very menial work, the DA’s EPWP would have a distinct focus on skills training and transfer.
- The DA would roll-out the Work and Skills programme model, successfully implemented in the Western Cape. The project would give young South Africans aged between 18 and 35 the opportunity to participate in a 12-month work experience programme. Run by the Department of Economic Development, each participant is placed with a company and supplied with a R12 000 per month stipend.
- Ensure that bids awarded for state contracts are fully in line with Preferential Procurement and that all contractors are paid within 30 days, as required by public finance law. Where the DA governs, bids awarded to Historically Disadvantaged Individuals (HDIs) increased from 40% under the ANC before the DA took office in 2009, to 89% by 2011. The payment of suppliers on time also ensures that small businesses can sustain and grow their operations, creating more jobs in the process.
- Establish a dedicated fund to support Farm Equity Schemes (FES) in which commercial farmers sell stakes in their farms to farm workers, either on an individual basis or to farm worker trusts. The key aims of the programme are to broaden ownership in the agricultural sector, promote land reform in areas of high-value agricultural land and spearhead an incentives-driven approach to empowerment.
- Expand hands-on support for emerging farmers by increasing the budget for mentorship programmes where successful commercial farmers partner with emerging farmers to grow their agri-businesses. This is a far more successful model than the current piece-meal training provided by the Northern Cape Agriculture Department which does not meet the needs of emerging farmers.
The full plan also contains key proposals for drastically improving the quality of education in the Northern Cape as well as putting a stop to rampant public sector corruption.
In the coming weeks and months we will use the legislature and public platforms available to us to push for the current Northern Cape government to reform their approach to job creation and governance.
We believe these are the right policies to turn the provincial economy around and in 2014 we will present the people of the Northern Cape with a credible alternative.