It is difficult to argue against the success we’ve had in the Western Cape: more than 500,000 new jobs, R100bn in foreign direct investment, R6bn in tourism income, and the naming of our capital city as the top financial centre in Africa — all in SA’s sluggish economic climate.
The province has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, but there are still too many who cannot find or reach work. We know the government does not create jobs — businesses do. But to create real and sustainable jobs, the government can and must do two things: make it easier for businesses to create jobs, and make it easier for our residents to get those jobs.
The Western Cape government has already had great success with reducing barriers to job creation, generating R1bn in savings for businesses in the province. We are well on the way to becoming the easiest province in which to do business, but there is more that can be done.
Our red tape reduction unit will be expanded to deal with more red tape legislation, and we will focus on removing the regulatory burdens on small businesses and entrepreneurs.
There are some sectors that need special support. Our agriculture sector is bouncing back from a devastating drought, and we will continue to fight to make the Western Cape an international hub of experience and technology in agriculture. And the informal sector, where so many innovative businesses are being built, will benefit as we build supportive infrastructure and reduce barriers to access.
The most obvious risk for South African businesses is an unreliable power supply. The near collapse of Eskom through outright theft and mismanagement is tantamount to the ANC sabotaging businesses. Each stage of load-shedding costs the economy R1bn per day — a crushing blow to job creation.
As a province blessed with green energy resources, the Western Cape must reduce its reliance on the ANC-run state-owned enterprise. Already domestic production of solar energy has been legalised in 22 municipalities — in 18 of these, you can feed this into the grid for compensation. We will now move to procure our bulk power from independent power producers, who have been treated with hostility by the ANC government and its allies.
Job creation means little if our people cannot access those jobs. The SA job-seeker faces challenges on all fronts: a mismatch between jobs and skills, a lack of efficient transport and spatial disparity. These challenges are most acutely felt by young people, which is why we have invested so much in our schooling system and spent more than R483m on bursaries, learnerships and internships for nearly 16,000 young people.
We will go further by expanding our successful youth café programme, which offers IT access to young people looking to enter the job market and start businesses. We will introduce a transport voucher that allows young job-seekers to easily reach job interviews and opportunities.
We are also leading the charge to have underutilised national government-owned land in strategic economic areas released for housing and businesses. Our dynamic model for human settlement projects includes business and travel considerations, to support economic activity where people live.
Only the DA has a credible plan to grow our economy and create jobs in the Western Cape. We will fight to make it easier to start and run businesses in our province, building on the progress we have made so far. If we work together, we can deliver opportunities for all South Africans — not just connected ANC cronies.
• Winde is the DA’s Western Cape premier candidate.