Leader of the Democratic Alliance
This is an extract of the speech delivered by Helen Zille in Meyerton, Midvaal Gauteng, as part of the DA’s Jobs Campaign.
I am delighted to be in Midvaal today to see the amazing results of the Midvaal Leadership Programme.
This programme’s success is built upon the fact that it is a shared initiative between Midvaal Local Municipality, the Oliphant Institute of Leadership and North West University. The programme works because it is a partnership between an innovative government, socially responsible businesses and the brightest young people in the area.
One of the biggest problems in South Africa’s economy today is the mismatch between the huge demand for skilled workers and the small number of skilled graduates to fill those spots. This is bad for job creation because economic growth relies on skilled, talented and entrepreneurial people. The DA’s Plan for Growth and Jobs proposes several policy interventions to address this structural problem.
In practice, wherever the Democratic Alliance (DA) governs, from Midvaal to Cape Town, we are developing sustainable and evidenced-based approaches that help young people cross the bridge from school to employment. The Work and Skills Programme in the Western Cape provincial government, for instance, is such an initiative.
This smart approach, tested and perfected, is replicated in this Leadership Programme. Designed for young people without a job, the entry requirement is that the candidate has a matric qualification, and is not presently studying.
The course consists of 5 modules: Marketing Entrepreneurship, Life Skills, Leadership and Diversity, and HIV/Aids education. The programme is practical and hard skills-based, while also being accredited by a leading university. It drives learning through experience, and is a pathway to lifelong education.
Excitingly, 30 out of the 80 students who participated last year have already been placed in full time jobs. Simply put, it works. We have four of them with us today. Akhona Ntontela, Gift Kgaphona, Ishmael Molelekoa and Mandisa Mpauleni will be sharing their remarkable stories with us, and we congratulate them on their achievements.
Clearly local government has a specific and smart role to play in enabling small business to succeed. This is why the Midvaal Municipality and the Oliphant Institute of Leadership funds this programme.
With initiatives such as this, it is not surprising that the most recent statistics available from the Quality of Life Survey by the Gauteng City Region Observatory shows that Midvaal’s unemployment rate, at 25%, is much lower than other municipalities in Gauteng. For instance according to the same survey, Ekurhuleni unemployment rate stands at 40% while Westonaria stand at 36.5%.
There is another ingredient at work in Midvaal too: strong political leadership, and a capable administration. When the DA took over the municipality in 2000, infrastructure under the ANC had crumbled. Trade and commerce were almost absent. Since then the DA has rebuilt the municipality’s infrastructure, and today Midvaal is a magnet for investment from BSI steel to Heineken to Ferrero Rocher. This investment represents billions of rand pumping into the local economy, transforming lives and communities.
But it has not been easy; it has required perseverance, as well as the energy and talents of the local residents.
This is why investors know that their investments are safe here. Predictability in driving economic growth is of the essence. Investors know that the municipal services in Midvaal will work, that billing procedures will be simple, consistent and accurate – and that red tape will be kept to a minimum.
The proof is clear. The DA has received 9 unqualified audit reports since 2000. Is this sheer luck? No. The ANC-led Emfuleni Municipality next door has not received a clean audit over the last 5 years. Leadership, as this Programme showcases, is everything. According to Global Insight since the DA first won control of Midvaal in December 2000, its local economy has been growing at an average of 8% per annum.
There is a lot of capital in the world that is waiting to be invested across South Africa, if other municipalities were to emulate Midvaal’s example.
This is one part of the story.
The DA also asks young people and employers what they can do to create new jobs. The government, as our joint partnership here clearly shows, does not itself create jobs. It has a responsibility to create the conditions for businesses to create jobs, and unlock young people’s potential.
If we work together, we can transform South Africa’s economy so that every person can enjoy the dignity of a decent day’s work and pay.