By Boitumelo Babuseng MPL, DA Northern Cape Provincial Spokesperson of Finance:
The DA is devastated at yesterday’s unemployment figures showing that the Northern Cape saw the largest increase in the unemployment rate of any province in South Africa: growing by over 5% year-on-year. Our provincial government is failing the hopes and dreams of our people, as it fails to create jobs, fails to grow the economy and fails to dedicate itself to service of the community.
According to the 3rd Quarterly Labour Force Survey, the official unemployment rate in the Northern Cape grew from 29,7% in the third quarter of 2014 to 34,8% in the same period this year.
It is ironic that this news comes amidst the recent resignation of former Northern Cape MEC of Economic Development, John Block, who was found guilty on charges of corruption, fraud and money laundering – but until Block is replaced with a committed and dedicated Economic Development MEC, no change can be expected.
While people continue to lose their jobs, this MEC post remains vacant. We call on Premier Lucas to urgently fill Block’s vacated office.
Under the economic leadership of Block, the province failed to meet its annual target of creating 16 000 per annum, as set out in the Provincial Growth and Development Strategy.
Block never took the bold steps needed to create an environment conducive to economic growth and development. Instead, his focus was channeled more on mega events, mega projects and mega foreign deals that maintained a large amount of state control and have significantly cost the province but have not borne the injection needed to kick start the Northern Cape economy. Mega projects have meant mega spending, and within that mega opportunities for mega corruption.
This was largely at the expense of the development of the informal and SMME sectors, attracting sustainable investment into the province and harnessing the province’s strengths to transform this landscape into an economic hub.
The Northern Cape totals a third of the land mass of the entire country, has entrances to two international borders, is home to three major rivers and has an abundance of natural resources. The potential of the province is huge but dynamic leadership is necessary to effectively and responsibility maximize on it.
In this regard, one of the key things that government can and must do is to recognize the importance of the informal sector and make it easier for the people of the Northern Cape to be able to start and grow their own small businesses.
We therefore encourage Premier Sylvia Lucas to consider implementing initiatives from the DA’s 5-point “Jobs” plan.
Some initiatives that have provided positive results in the Western Cape include the following:
- Provide safer trading spaces for informal traders.
- Provide targeted support to micro-entrepreneurs to formalize their businesses and increase growth potential.
- Build OneStop Shop Opportunity Centres for business support and information.
- Stimulate entrepreneurship activities, and launch entrepreneurial support that is open to all, not only open to the politically connected.
- Help small businesses to benefit from government work for which they are always paid within 30 days.
The DA has no doubt that through the implementation of sound policies which create more economic opportunities, more growth and more jobs, the Northern Cape can become a vibrant leader in the South Africa, where opportunity, personal responsibility and effort coupled with reward all provide for economic freedom.