The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber agrees with the focus on the National Development Plan as the road map to future economic growth in South Africa in the 2013 State of the Nation Address by President Jacob Zuma. We agree also that the economy will have to grow threefold to create much-needed jobs. It is going to require business, labour, government and all of society to work together to achieve this. The Business Chamber commends the strong leadership shown by the president from lessons learned around the events at Marikana, as well as his emphasis on the constitution as our guide in its vision of the society we are building.
We welcome the spend on infrastructure, which we believe is critical to create an enabling environment for business, which would see South Africa prosper.
We were particularly gratified by the improvement of goods and overall logistics in the country, and also by the focus on the Port of Ngqura as a key transshipment hub. This is core to the strategy of building our relationships with the BRICS economies, as well as those on the greater African continent.
We are, however, disappointed that there is still no announcement regarding Project Mthombo, which we had hoped would be committed to.
The spend on electricity transmission lines to major economic hubs and rural areas is positive. However, we would welcome further an intense focus on the ailing electrical infrastructure within the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro. We call for national government to focus on this matter, as it impacts business efficiency and competitiveness.
The spend on renewable energy programmes – which is a core focus in the Eastern Cape, particularly with the major wine projects within the Nelson Mandela Bay region – is welcomed. So too are plans for the expansion of broadband internet access through fibre optic cables; we look forward to 100% penetration in South Africa by 2020.
The state of education in South Africa is a key area of concern throughout the country. For this reason, we applaud the building of the forty new schools proposed for the Eastern Cape to replace mud schools, as part of the Eastern Cape premier’s programme to create an environment conducive to educating the children of this province. We are grateful for the intense focus the president placed on education as a priority in our nation. To ensure a critical supply of skills into the workplace, especially the industrial sector, we support moves to emphasize education in math, science and technology. The private sector would welcome further engagement on this vital issue, and echo the president’s view that schools should be developed into centres of excellence.
We compliment the government on the progress demonstrated in the gap housing market, particularly in the Walmer Links project in Port Elizabeth and others around the country.
We are particularly pleased to hear government commitment to pay small business owners on time, and that accounting officers will be held accountable for progress in this area. The three billion Rand approved for the job creation fund is also very welcome. Business will continue to engage with government on the development of apprenticeships to support youth employment initiative principles.
The strong focus against corruption and violence against women and children is timely and welcome. Filling top vacancies in the criminal justice system could help to ensure efficient and effective justice in our country, send a strong message in the fight against crime, and help to restore faith in the criminal justice system.
The Business Chamber is pleased by the proposal of an integrated urban development framework between all three spheres of government to focus on rapid urbanization around key economic centres. We need to ensure effective service delivery to all citizens in the main economic hubs of South Africa.
The president’s insistence that the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster ensure the upholding of rights with regards to peaceful protests is pleasing. Citizens should ensure that protests do not lead to injury, death, or the wilful damage and destruction of property. The government’s urgent action to enforce the rule of law is appreciated. These measures will hopefully restore confidence within the business community, the citizens of this country, and in the eyes of international investors.
The focus on the BRICS relationship and our international relations is critical, and we look forward to even greater initiatives from government in this regard. We do, however, request more proactive inclusion of the Eastern Cape business community, and particularly from within Nelson Mandela Bay as an economic hub, to enhance our trade and grow the investment so desperately needed in this region to revitalize the socio-economic landscape.