By Ina Cilliers MPL, DA Constituency Head: Merafong
Despite Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s grand plan to revitalise forgotten municipalities throughout the province, as outlined in his concept of provincial corridors, little has been done to advance the economy of the West Rand.
In fact, the premier’s so-called “corridors” are nothing new – they are geographical areas that arose as a result of Apartheid spatial planning.
With the decline of mining activities on the West Rand in recent years, the primary employer for many residents, its economy has been dealt a serious blow.
In an attempt to reverse it, Premier Makhura insisted that his administration would roll out a plan to diversify the West Rand economy, focusing on the following:
- Positioning the West Rand as a hub for agri-businesses, agri-processing and horticulture – as well as the establishment of a freshwater prawn farm;
- The investment of R20 million, budgeted over the next two financial years, to establish a milling facility in Randfontein;
- The establishment of solar farms and;
- Investing in the manufacturing of coaches to supply mass transit bus fleets
I was extremely alarmed by the replies to questions I posed regarding the above to Gauteng MEC for Economic Development, Lebogang Maile.
All initiatives for the establishment of agri-businesses, agri-processing, horticulture and the freshwater prawn farm are to be driven by the private sector – with no financial support or involvement from the provincial government.
Similarly, the solar farms and mass transit manufacturing of buses are both private sector initiatives.
Despite proposing to invest R20 million in the milling facility over the next two years, no effort has been made to link this project to its related market – its success is to be measured on its physical construction and not its economic viability.
While Premier Makhura has been touted as the “people’s Premier”, it would appear that the façade of unsubstantial rhetoric is starting to slip.
The West Rand will not experience the economic stimulation required to regenerate and prosper under this ANC-led administration.
Its people will be forgotten, unemployment and inequality will spiral out of control, while the Government of the day continues to provide plans devoid of substance.