Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL
DA Provincial Spokesperson on Economic Affairs:
The Democratic Alliance calls for regulations forcing Solar Electricity Plant operators in the Northern Cape to adopt social and labour absorption plans that will benefit the Northern Cape.
Re-investment in the communities where solar plants operate should be a priority.
The social and labour plans must provide for the promotion of employment, economic growth and social development. Why should solar plants be held to a different standard than mining houses? Both offer great economic opportunities for the province and the local communities should benefit.
During our recent oversight visit to the Abengoa solar plant in Upington, it became very clear that local labour is not being absorbed into the plant. This is cause for serious concern, given the expanded unemployment rate of 38% in the province. The reason offered for the importing of labour is that work at the plant is of a skilled, technical nature. If this problem had first been addressed in a social or labour plan, the local community would benefit more from the plant.
We commend the Droogfontein solar plant in Kimberley for its assistance to the Galeshewe SMME incubator. We hope to see that the solar plants elsewhere in the province take their lead from this initiative.
We also call on director-general Justice Bekebeke to refrain from misplaced attacks. His comments that solar plants and mining houses should move their headquarters to the Northern Cape and pay their taxes here are nonsensical. The paying and collecting of taxes is a national competency. Mr. Bekebeke should know that taxes go into a central fund and are not ringfenced for the province where taxes are generated. We encourage the director-general to rather focus on whether or not companies are tax compliant.
We would like to see that the headquarters and data processing offices of the SKA project gets moved to Kimberley, especially in light of the new Data Sciences degree to be offered at Sol Plaatje University.
The DA will continue to press for the absorption of local labour into big projects in the Northern Cape, rather than importing of labour when our unemployment rate continues to rise.