By Janet Semple MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Economic Development:
Gauteng MEC for Economic Development, Lebogang Maile, has promised to work with township business owners in Tembisa, Ekurhuleni, who have sited municipal rates as the major stumbling block holding back their growth, in an effort to bolster his departments Township Economy Revitalisation Programme (TERP).
However, what the MEC has failed to realise is that while his intervention, while outwardly noble, is far too focused on one location for his TERP to be viable across Gauteng.
Of all three metropolitan municipalities across the province, Ekurhuleni has the lowest rates for water, electricity and other municipal services.
While the claims of township business owners in Tembisa are, as the MEC put it – most likely legitimate, Tembisa is not the only township in Ekurhuleni nor the province where business owners have challenges paying municipal rates.
For the TERP to truly distinguish itself and be a viable programme, wider consultation must be held with all stakeholders from all municipalities across Gauteng both local and metro.
What is evident from the limited information offered by both the MEC and the department is that TERP is more of a talk shop project than one of any real substance and it is highly unlikely that any real significant change will be made to improve the climate of township economies.
One of the ways in which the MEC could assist would be to establish special economic zones in townships, as recommended in the Department of Trade and Industry’s Industrial Policy Action Plan, reducing cumbersome bureaucratic regulation and incentivising SMMEs.
The DA will continue to support township businesses and offer positive solutions to get people working in sustainable ways, not simply attempt to gloss over real issues with empty promises.