Job creation must be at centre of major DEDT organisational review

Anthony Benadie MPL

DA Provincial Leader and Spokesperson on Economic Development:

Job creation, economic development and the establishment of sustainable and financially viable parastatals must be at the centre of the major organisational review, currently being orchestrated by the Mpumalanga Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDT). So too, the DEDT’s bureaucracy must be downscaled to create a lean an efficient department, dedicated to stimulating economic growth and creating jobs.

According to information received from DA sources, the Mpumalanga Executive Council (EXCO), during a cabinet Lekgotla last year, took a resolution for the design and implementation of a turnaround strategy for the Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDET) and its parastatals.

This decision comes after years of organisational turmoil, mismanagement and most importantly political instability within this department and most of its parastatals. In addition, during the organisational review the department has found that:

  • DEDET has no shared understanding of the departments economic development mandate,
  • The department and its entities have overlapping mandates,
  • Leadership within DEDET has been grossly inadequate. (the average time spent in the department by an HOD or MEC has been less than 15 months, creating widespread instability)
  • DEDET and MEGA have overlapping mandates, and so does DEDET and MTPA, especially in tourism management,
  • DEDET has no coherent strategic direction, resulting in continuous crisis management in the department, and
  • A severe skills shortage exists, with no skills audit having being done, and a gross mismatch between incumbent staff and job requirements.

These findings essentially amount to an admission of failure by DEDET and expose the department’s inability to comprehend its own purpose.

That said, according to the DA source, there are also a variety of proposals that will give effect to the organisational review, including:

  • Clarifying the mandate of the department and its stakeholders,
  • Re-engineering MEGA and the MTPA,
  • Designing a framework that includes a value proposition, values framework, value chain, a business model, operating model,
  • Creating entities that are main implementing agents.

Of concern is that one of the proposed solutions is the creation of an Enterprise Development company, to be created and incorporated under MEGA as a subsidiary company to ring fence SMME and cooperative financing and non-financial support services.

Given MEGA’s track record, continuous and close scrutiny of this entities financial management is needed, to ensure it does not become a vehicle for channelling funds away from economic development, to the pockets of the well connected.

While MEGA has failed dismally in their mandate to be Mpumalanga’s primary economic stimulator and job creating entity, it has been the worst performing and most corrupt of all government entities. We don’t need more entities, we need better ones.

The DA would replace MEGA with a watertight public-private partnership between DEDET and functioning business chambers of commerce and industry – with a clear mandate of empowering the poor, by placing millions of rand, currently being squandered, in the hands of those truly committed to building the economy, creating jobs and eliminating poverty.

Shockingly, the department also proposes to recall the tourism planning, policy, and regulation and enforcement function from the MTPA, begging the question – what will the MTPA’s tourism mandate then be?

However, the DA firmly believes that to become a revenue generating entity, all MTPA parks and lodges must be commercialised. This would immediately shift much of its assets from enormous liabilities to revenue generating facilities, resulting not only in increased financial stability, but also job creation.

The DA will closely monitor the roll-out of this departmental organisational review, to ensure that these changes are not just another smoke-screen designed to draw ours and the public’s attention away from government’s continued inability to stimulate economic development and create jobs.