Address by the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Nomsa Dube-Ncube

Address by the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Nomsa Dube-Ncube on the occasion of the Post Budget Business Breakfast. MEC is also Leader of Government Business

Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre

1 August 2019

Programme Director;

Board Directors of entities

CEO of Public Entities

Captains of Industry;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Members of the Media Present;

Good Morning

First and foremost, allow me to express my sincere gratitude to all of you for the support since my deployment into this portfolio.

I want to pause here and pay tribute to the former leaders previously deployed by the ruling party to this portfolio. I want to salute them for their role in transforming this province into a land of prosperity. The former MECs are: –

  • JG Zuma
  • Dr Zweli Mkhize
  • Mike Mabuyakhulu
  • And Sihle Zikalala

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have assumed my duties with a sense of comfort knowing that a solid foundation has been laid by my predecessors.

The successes recorded by this province, on economic fronts over the years, would not have been possible without the support from all of you Ladies and Gentlemen.

We have therefore converged here this morning, as partners, who share a common vision for KwaZulu-Natal characterized by economic growth and job creation.

Critically, your presence this morning, despite your busy schedule, is a clear indication that in you I have partners who will walk with me as we embark on a journey to prosperity.

I must hasten to point out that I am encouraged by messages of congratulations since we presented the Budget Vote on Tuesday. Equally, I have accepted, unconditionally, constructive criticism from every member of society.

The amount of messages I have received is unprecedented. Without a shadow of a doubt – we are a great nation in the making.  We have men and women who are prepared to contribute towards the creation of a better tomorrow.

Programme Director, we presented our Budget Vote on Tuesday in the face of many challenges. Perhaps, this morning we need to reflect on these challenges and collectively share ideas on how are we going to turn the situation around.

Firstly, the quarterly labour survey figures released by Stats SA indicates that unemployment in this country has reached 29% mark in the second quarter. This is a record 11-year high – and is the highest unemployment rate that we have ever experienced since 2008.

The figures point out that there is an increase of 455 000 in the number of people who are unemployed. We are further informed that the expanded unemployment rate, including people discouraged from looking for work, increased by 0.5 percentage points to 38.5 percent in the second quarter.

Secondly, the biggest challenge which we need to deal with is that there are 3.3 million people in the age group of between 15 and 24 years who are not in employment, education or training.

Thirdly, there is a net decrease of 326 000 in the not economically active population. We are told that women remain the most affected by unemployment.

Compatriots, Ladies and Gentlemen, these depressing figures require a special attitude and sense of collective determination to succeed as a people.

Three days ago we placed firmly on the table a solid plan to turn around the situation and ensure our survival through the current economic turbulence. 

Our main task today is to begin to work towards creating a win-win outcome for future generations despite challenges we are facing as a nation within a community of nations.

Honoured Guests, in our Budget Vote which is available online – we have outlined in detail a massive infrastructure programme, never seen before, as a way in which our province will defeat the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

We have set aside billions of rands with an aim of stimulating manufacturing and construction industry because these sectors are labour intensive.

The approach South Africa has adopted is that utilised by developmental states and lifted their countries out of deep depression; wherein massive investment has been poured into infrastructural projects to stimulate development.

The massive investment consequently encourages partnership between the public and the private sectors to maximize investments and grow the economy together.

The requirement in such developmental states is the capacity of the state to provide credible plans to unlock the potential of the economy based on a long- term vision. Another requirement is demonstrable capacity to implement the planned projects in time and on budget.

As I stand before you, with greater humility, I acknowledge the fact that a developmental state has a responsibility of ensuring effective coordination. Such a state must have the ability to enlist a united focus in the achievement of the outcomes for the success of the country.

To this end, we will ensure that we work with all spheres of government to ensure proper coordination and implementation of infrastructure projects.

The added advantage is that the expenditure on infrastructure is now being coordinated through the newly developed decision matrix emanating from the KZN Infrastructure Master Plan. The plan is aimed at improving integration and alignment of key infrastructure development projects within all spheres of government.

Working with the national government, we will focus on the upgrade of N3 corridor. N3 has been identified as a strategic corridor for advancing industrialisation of the country through its importance on the movement of cargo between Durban and Gauteng and to Southern African region at large. 

Many businesses, especially transport and logistics have expressed concerns about the about the N3 capacity constraints between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, especially around the following areas: Paradise Valley, Cedara, Townhill, Cato Ridge areas and E B Cloete interchange at the intersection of the N2 and N3.

We believe that improvements of these sections will go a long way in improving the movement of cargo and people between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

We will continue to work with national agencies such as Transnet to improve the Port and rail infrastructure. Our focus is to augment SANRAL’s efforts in improving mobility between Durban and Johannesburg. Indeed, improving connectivity along N3 and N2 will go a long way in improving the efficiency of our ports in the movement of cargo between Durban and Gauteng and other key markets.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a great deal of excitement from stakeholders in the aviation industry following the adoption of our KZN Integrated Aerotropolis Strategy and the 50 year Durban Aerotropolis Master Plan (DURAMP).

We have received inquiries from potential investors interested in setting up their businesses in our envisaged Airport City which will be centred around King Shaka International Airport.

Plans are afoot to deliberately turn the region into a bustling hive of economic activity for the benefits of neighboring municipalities such as Ilembe, King Cetshwayo and Zululand. The Durban Aerotopolis is ideally situated to leverage and nestle itself in the supply chain link, to support fast moving aviation-orientated firms to speedy connectivity to their suppliers and customers, nationally, the SADC region and worldwide.

At this stage we wish to announce that we will be hosting an International Investment Conference in September 2019. This is aimed at promoting and attracting investment into the province. With the Durban Aerotropolis having its diverse range of opportunities and great potential economic impact, the first iteration of the conference will be Durban Aerotropolis.

Honoured guests, we believe that Aviation plays a central role in supporting the tourism sector and can also support and facilitate trade of high valued time-sensitive goods. It is therefore our view that regional airports can a much larger role in economic development. These airports play a critical role in emergency medical, disaster, fire and rescue flights, freight aircraft, fuel supply to aircraft, pilot training, firefighting training, anti-poaching exercises, tourism and other aviation activities. However given the fact that airports are generally viewed as a means of travel for the elite members of our society and the situation is further compounded by the fact that air transport is also not identified as a form of public transport, the past investment in regional airports has been lackluster.

We see these airports as important means to induce regional economies.  KwaZulu-Natal regional airports are envisioned to increase accessibility of our regional economies by both domestic and international travellers. Many of these regional airports are surrounded by vacant developable land that makes provision for non-aviation activities. Public land around Airports offers an outstanding development opportunity for investment and the possibility of securing funding for capital expenditure on airport infrastructure. We have provided extensive support and continue to do so for Mkhuze Airport and will be undertaking infrastructure upgrades at Margate and Pietermaritzburg airports.

In addition, Ladies and Gentlemen, we wish to reiterate our permanent intent of uniting all our efforts, across all racial lines. When we talk about radical economic transformation no one should feel marginalized. We must create a win-win outcome for future generations by ensuring equal participation of our people in the provincial economy.

I wish to point out programme director that we will pay a great deal of attention to those who are at the bottom of our pyramid – the small players. The Small Business and cooperative sectors is very important in terms of employing those people that Stats SA point out as discouraged job seekers.

We must internalize the fact that unemployment is a significant contributor to poverty. Unemployed poor people in KwaZulu-Natal are concentrated among Africans, in rural areas, among women and the youth.

We therefore intend to deepen the support needed by co-operatives and SMMEs to survive. We want to improve the participation of street traders, primary and secondary cooperatives and small business in the mainstream economy and monitor progress in this regard.

This intervention, Ladies and Gentlemen, must also be viewed within the context of creating opportunities for millions of people who have been retrenched. Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa detailed sectors of the economy where job losses will be felt for a long time.

Retrenchment is not only about people losing income but about people being denied access to opportunities and choices to lead a decent life.  Retrenchments results in people being denied their freedom, dignity and respect which are things that matter most for human existence.

Our message this morning, Ladies and Gentlemen, is that let us hold hands.

We must remember that our strength as people has always been our higher sense of idealism. We have always had a strong vision for a better future and our determination to achieve the lofty ideals of a free and prosperous nation underpinned our achievements over the years.

Honoured Guests, because our intention this morning is not to do another presentation of the Budget Speech, allow me programme director to invite specific stakeholders to examine what would be their role in realizing a better life for this province during this financial year and beyond.

As the provincial government we uphold a firm belief that chambers across the province must be a formidable force in steering government, citizens and business communities to sound policies and best practices.

In the last 20 years the provincial government has facilitated a smooth integration of our chambers who share one vision. These include Pietermaritzburg, Durban Chamber and Zululand and Newcastle. This move was aimed at ensuring economic integration, economic growth and more importantly to improve the lives of our citizens.

As we move forward, I intend having regular meetings with chambers in order to exchange ideas and find solutions to challenges facing both the public and private sector.

We will strengthen the work of an all-inclusive KwaZulu-Natal Chamber of Business, which was formed as a result of the merger of the historically segmented business institutions whose separation was based on nothing but racial formations.  

We will seriously reconfigure our work as the department in relation to the expectations of the KZN Growth Coalition – the KZN Economic Council, KZN Climate Change Council, BEE Advisory Council and the KZN Planning Commission.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we pointed out in our Budget Speech that we will do things differently. In this regard, we will ensure that our engagements with all these structures are not only confined to once off quarterly meetings.

The relevancy of these structures and our engagements will only be enhanced by our ability to meet the expectations and aspirations for improvements in livelihoods among ordinary people of this province. We need to agree on clear targets in terms of growing the provincial economy and job creation. We need to identify bottlenecks towards economic growth and investments; and implement with a sense of urgency the agreed interventions.

We want to enhance industrial development through trade, investment and exports. Our focus is on the key sectors of our economy such as manufacturing (automotive, chemical, metals and maritime), agriculture, tourism, transport and logistics, and the green economy. In our Budget Speech, we outlined our interventions in stimulating these sectors of the economy.

Honoured Guests, we pause here and congratulate eThekwini Municipality for setting up a City Planning Commission. I have been informed that the Commission had its inaugural meeting weeks ago. I had asked my office to extend an invitation to the commissioners and I hope they are here with us.

We undertake to work with the KZN Planning Commission to ensure that our municipalities have Planning Commissions. We are emphasizing the alignment of the municipalities’ Integrated Development Plans with the Provincial Growth and Development Plan. We must all work towards achieving common targets. Where there are gaps, we need to share resources to correct weakness.

We will be conducting workshops in various municipalities to assist them to ensure this alignment with the PGDP. The main objective is to ensure that the identified sectors of the economy create job opportunities for millions of local communities especially young people.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as I draw towards conclusion, we wish to reiterate our position that our public entities must complement one another and not compete against each other.

Foreign investors are keen to invest in this province due to a conducive economic environment. However, our inability to follow up on potential investments and ensuring that all entities combine their efforts – and work towards sealing a deal may prove detrimental. This is an area which will receive my undivided attention.

We must spread investments throughout the corners of the province including deep rural areas. We must not accept the fact that economic activities in the province are mainly concentrated in Durban and Pietermaritzburg, with significant contributions in the Richards Bay, the Ladysmith, Newcastle and Port Shepstone. Our entities must direct potential investors across this province working with all municipalities and business chambers.

We want our special economic zones – the Dube Trade Port and Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone – to act as catalysts for investments into the province not only in major cities. The small decaying towns must also benefit as part of the revitalization of Township and Rural economies. Our view is that all citizens of this province despite their spatial location, gender or class should benefit from the investment in social infrastructure.

Ladies and Gentlemen, with those words – I wish to thank you once again for your indulgence.