Dear Cape Town
On Thursday this week, Parliament will hold an urgent debate of public importance on South Africa’s jobs crisis following my request. The DA will use this debate to put forward practical and workable solutions to revive our economy and get South Africa working again. I wish to call on all political parties, including the ANC, to see this as a moment in which our political differences are put aside as we work together across party lines in order to avoid economic collapse. This is what South Africans desperately want and South Africa desperately needs.
It is no secret that our economy is in a perilous state and fast headed in the wrong direction. Despite this, DA governments are taking deliberate action to provide hope and opportunity – especially to the more than 10 million South Africans who cannot find a job. Where we govern, we display both the innovation and the capability to provide real solutions to address our nation’s unemployment crisis.
Today I visited “The Business Hub” – a City of Cape Town initiative at the coalface of creating jobs and assisting job creators. Opened last month by MMC James Vos, this multipurpose hub is concrete proof of the DA’s passionate commitment to job creation and to expanding opportunities to all.
“The Business Hub” is designed to make small business and entrepreneurs more competitive and resilient in their efforts to create jobs and help build our economy. The hub acts as a one-stop-shop providing practical advice on starting a business, the requirements and legalities involved, and assistance in finding support to grow small businesses.
What began as a simple help desk has now become an established business hub in the heart of the city. To date, its helpdesk service resolved 95% of the 1049 enquiries from SMME’s and entrepreneurs within 2 working days. The Enterprise and Supplier Development programme interventions reached 850 SMME’s and city vendors, and this success has led to opening the doors of the hub we are in today.
The hub works to compliment the DA’s pro-innovation and pro-SMME approach to the economy. In government, we strive to create the conditions in which businesses – both big and small – can start, grow and thrive. However, it is small businesses and entrepreneurs that require particular assistance, and their success is the fastest way to create new jobs for the over 10 million unemployed South Africans.
Indeed, the current government’s own projection in the National Development Plan (NDP) is that 90% of all new jobs will come from SMMEs by 2030. We wholeheartedly agree with this – SMMEs should be the focus of the country’s economic policy. Every sphere of government ought to be obsessively focused on simplifying the path to entrepreneurship by empowering individuals who have unique business ideas, and the “Business Hub” is doing just that.
Our focus on SMMEs and innovation is bearing real fruit. Here in Cape Town, the unemployment rate stands around 6% lower than the national average. And in the Western Cape, the unemployment rate of 23% is over 15% lower than the national average.
In addition, The World Bank’s ‘Doing Business Report in South Africa in 2018’ recognised Cape Town as SA’s easiest city to do business in, and PWC identified Cape Town as the overall opportunity city in Africa.
Over the past 10 years, the Western Cape has seen opportunity expanded to more than half a million people who were previously excluded from the economy by creating over 500 000 new jobs. This is something I am extremely proud of. We must do even more to open up the economy to those South Africans who have been left out.
By governing well, attracting investment and supporting SMMEs, the economy grows and hundreds of thousands of new jobs are created. This is underpinned by building a capable state where only the best are hired, and those who are corrupt end up in jail.
We must now pursue this approach at national level. With total commitment to pro-growth policies, we can start rolling back the destructive tide of unemployment and place our country back on the path towards inclusive growth, increased prosperity, and a shared future. We cannot continue along the divided and incoherent policy path the ANC is leading us down.
I look forward to working with anyone who wishes to place the interests of our country first by building a stable, pro-growth, corruption-free approach to the economy that benefits all South Africans. This begins on the floor of Parliament this coming Thursday.
Leader of the Democratic Alliance