Transcript of SOPA Debate speech by Beverley Schäfer MPP – DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture:
Speaker, we are here today to debate one of the most important issues affecting our citizens – how we plan to build a resilient, inclusive and competitive space – unlocking and unblocking the growth potential of this Western Cape Province.
You see Speaker, national government has failed dismally to really tackle the unjust disparities of our past, and in particular, the economic exclusion where so many SA’s find themselves – the small insider group of the ANC versus the massive outsiders – the people of South Africa.
How are we in the Western Cape providing solutions to changing this huge disparity that still exists in our country today?
It is through the Western Cape’s focused economic strategy, which aims to stimulate specific sectors of our economy, where the greatest opportunity for jobs and economic growth can occur.
In face of the national job-crisis, I am happy to say that the Western Cape is still able to provide more jobs than the rest of the country. According to Stats SA, between 2008 and 2015 more than 200 000 new jobs have been created. In the same period, while we in the Western Cape created these new jobs, the unemployment in South Africa has increased by almost 1.2 million people.
It is absolutely astounding that President Zuma just yesterday publically stated, that David van Rooyen was the most “highly qualified” finance minister he has ever appointed! I say the President has absolutely no jobs plan and definitely does not understand the economy! Speaker, because what happened after he said that? The Rand reacted and once again tumbled: 9/12, the day the rand crashed.
You see Speaker, the Western Cape has a jobs plan! A real jobs plan. With Project Khulisa, our focus on tourism, the oil and gas sector and agri-processing, the Western Cape is well on the track to creating these new jobs. A sign of a province on the right track, is when business speaks to the confidence they have in this Province, with the 654 000 square meters of commercial and residential development that has been approved for construction in the past year – nine times more than Gauteng? I say business confidence in this DA led Province is at an all-time high. Markets react and the markets have spoken.
The Western Cape recognises that youth unemployment requires focused intervention and has developed programs that speak directly to skill development, entrepreneurship and innovation. CapaCiTi our special purpose vehicle is a case in point, acting as the bridge between training and employment, guaranteeing that individuals who qualify from a CapaCiTi programmes are ensured employment in the field that they studied.
CapaCITi has placed over 96% of all of our graduates at over 150 companies since 2011, trained and placed in excess of 600 unemployed youth to-date. In 2015 they trained over 200 previously unemployed youth in scarce tech skills matching them to high value tech jobs with another 300 youth in the project for 2016. CapaCITi specifically develops programmes in direct response to industry demand, ensuring that the curriculum covers a ‘real-world work environment’. Assisting our youth to accessing opportunities, bringing them into the economy is what an accountable and capable government does.
Speaker, while we have seen some record numbers of people moving through Cape Town international airport this last season, South Africa has seen a decline in tourist arrivals of 6.8% for 2015 from 2014. The great numbers seen at this airport were not sufficient to ensure that SA maintained a continued growth in tourism for the first time in its history. According to a report by Grant Thornton, “Because Tourism arrivals only grew by 7.5% during 2014 it meant that 2015’s negative performance wiped out two years’ worth of vital tourism growth.”
That is what the impact of the Amended Visa Regulations has done to a key sector of both the Western Cape and SA at large. It has taken close to two years now for Minister Melusi Gigaba’s department to bow down to pressure and begin to implement the concessions decided by his cabinet to undo the damage of the Regulations and still we find a reluctance from him to do so.
Minister Ebrahim Patel in his recent economic speech stated that his government engages with business and stakeholders, but on every level, Home affairs failed to engage with the tourism sector, failed to listen or heed calls made by industry and failed to take our extensive report on the impact of visa regulations tabled by this parliament seriously. Even trafficking numbers that the Minister Malusi Gigaba used were thrown out as grossly overstated.
Despite this, we took our visa frustration through to the Red Tape Reduction Unit and one by one tried to solve them. And instead focused on new markets through the launch of the Western Cape’s Air Access Strategy to improve competitiveness and ease of access into targeted African markets.
The proposed upgrade and realignment of CT International Airport of R3.1bn will see an increase capacity of new flights by 50% adding 3000 additional jobs and unlocking massive economic growth in the surrounding areas – the aerotropolis. This is where the Western Cape has identified that the poorest, youngest and most marginalised of communities live. This is where the Western Cape will ensure that the people will benefit from this massive expansion project the most.
Speaker, while the country faces a severe drought, and await from national government for the official proclamation of the Central Karoo and the West Coast declared as disaster areas, the Western Cape is financially assisting our emerging grain farmers from risk of failure. On the one hand the ANC talks about land reform and building an inclusive agricultural sector, on the other hand, they fail on policy implementation and real land reform in SA.
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has a policy to acquire land – Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS) where an emerging farmer access a 9 year lease to farm. The problem is the massive backlog of leases to be issued. The ANC puts people on land with no sustainability, instead acquiring land for itself and no return of land to address the disparities of the past and the land just becomes a liability to the State. Speaker, we in the DA are going to watch the 31st March 2016 like hawks! The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has been mandated that all PLAS farms must have lease contracts in place by then. Not to mention the District land Committees set up with no budget. That’s how serious the ANC is about land reform.
Last but not least, my colleagues such as Member Cameron Dugmore need to hear this on the other side. No commercial farmer even if they wanted to get involved in land reform can do so, as there is no policy that speaks to this in national government. Yes, they will deny it but show me the policy and I will make a public apology. No policy exists at all!
Speaker let the ANC take heed of this quote, “Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be…” (John Wooden)
I thank you.