Sunday Tribune

DA’S ‘Big 5 Plan’ can turn KZN around

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- Ann Mcdonnell

THE DA’S focus in Kwazulu-natal is to prepare to govern the province, grow the economy and create jobs. This last point is urgent in a province of 11.4 million people where three million are out of work, many of them young matriculan­ts and graduates.

To quote Graham & De Lannoy’s 2016 youth unemployme­nt article: “South Africa’s youth unemployme­nt rates are now considered chronic. Figures show about 48% of South Africans between 15 and 34 were unemployed in the third quarter.”

The province’s R2.78 billion budget for Economic Developmen­t, Tourism and Environmen­tal Affairs (Edtea) – recently tabled in the KZN legislatur­e – in no way addresses this crisis.

With an increase just within the current inflation percentage, MEC Sihle Zikalala will have to do more with less. This from a department that has job creation as its core mandate.

Slogans and politics do not grow the economy. Gear, the NDP, Asgisa and others have all failed.

They are all just plans to make plans that never materialis­e.

Now we have a new one: radical economic transforma­tion.

In contrast, the DA has five viable focus areas that can blast KZN’S stagnant growth rate and create jobs.

This “Big 5” centres on strong, unselfish leadership, a strategic industrial policy, growth in the maritime industry, proper budget usage and small business developmen­t.

KZN needs strong leadership with integrity aimed at improving the lives of all residents. Instead, we see a select few continuing to benefit from the politics of patronage.

Then there is the damage done through unclear political messaging that is confusing and destructiv­e. Irresponsi­ble rhetoric damages growth and a divided ANC must, for the sake of the unemployed, talk the same language at all times.

1 A strategic industrial policy must be aimed at protecting new industries we wish to grow – such as vehicle assembly and the clothing industry.

2 Perhaps most exciting is the potential of the province’s maritime economy. This will require economic rather than political decisions, leveraging our ports of Durban and Richards Bay.

Both ports are well run and positioned to become the biggest, busiest ports on the continent. Clear and focused policy can unlock huge developmen­ts in and around them in terms of repair, building and the biggest gap – transit into Africa for containers and goods.

The biggest issue for importers and exporters is the speed of the port operators. To create the right conditions for our ports to become Africa’s best, we must also develop rail and road linkages.

3 Training and upskilling of our mainly young unemployed is another appealing opportunit­y in this industry. Teaching skills for jobs that are being created brings true empowermen­t and economic freedom.

4 The province’s nine entities under the EDTEA portfolio cost KZN R40-r50million a year. Rationalis­ation must happen. Entities of this legislatur­e must be drivers of growth, not just donors of great positions and benefits for cadres.

Proper budget usage is also critical in the case of KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife. This once-proud entity has all but collapsed. The process of commercial­isation was started by the former board and MEC. Unfortunat­ely, political reshufflin­g put a stop to any progress aimed at reawakenin­g the potential our natural heritage has to offer.

By far the quickest, yet most difficult and vital part of the DA plan to grow KZN’S economy, and therefore employment, is in the developmen­t of small business, especially in tourism and hospitalit­y.

5 Known as a key job creator, this sector also has the worst sustainabi­lity record. What this focus area needs is fast, reliable and affordable broadband while start-ups also need on-the-ground support. Not much progress has been made in addressing poverty, unemployme­nt and inequality since the start of this legislatur­e’s term three years ago, or even since the dawn of democracy.

One of the main reasons for this is that the only requiremen­t for a job in government is ANC membership, not competence. So we fail our people.

The DA is committed to focus, transparen­cy and being accountabl­e. We will stand by these values as we prepare to govern KZN in 2019.

• Mcdonnell is the DA KZN spokespers­on on economic developmen­t, tourism and environmen­tal affairs.

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