The Gauteng government has four priorities this year and SMMEs will play a large part in building the province’s economy, according to Premier David Makhura.
During his State of the Province Address on Tuesday, Makhura said it was key for Gauteng to take a lead in South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan, as well as Africa’s industrialisation agenda.
The other three priorities are:
- Fighting Covid-19, which includes building capacity to fight any future pandemics
- Revising social policy to improve educational and health outcomes, fighting crime and protecting the most vulnerable sections of society against urban poverty and hunger
- Improving governance to focus on delivering results and improving the quality of life of residents as well as enhancing ethics, integrity and accountability
Makhura said that small businesses had especially been hit hard by the pandemic.
“Half a million jobs have been lost and 42% of small business were forced to close with no prospect of ever reopening,” he said.
The premier said it was critical that the township economy was supported to help SMMEs, as well as focusing on high-growth priority including vehicle manufacturing, aerospace and defence; transportation and logistics, and food, beverages and agribusiness.
As President Cyril Ramaphosa did during his recent State of the Nation Address, the premier highlighted the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (TASEZ) as an example that was beneficial for small and big businesses, and the local economy.
“Working with the Mamelodi community, entrepreneurs and SMMEs, TASEZ is providing non-financial and financial support to 262 SMMEs. Over R1.7-billion worth of SMME (financial support) has already been allocated and another R531-million of work will be allocated to township SMMEs in the coming months for the built programme to construct the first set of factories,” he said.
The zone has seen an investment of R4.3-billion by suppliers and a further R15.8-billion announced by the Ford Motor Company. In the next year, this was likely to result in 3288 new jobs in addition to the 8600 construction-related jobs already created during the first phase, Makhura said.
On township enterprises, and black and women-owned businesses, the premier said 916 infrastructure maintenance projects were registered to small businesses valued at R598-million.
A total of 50 emerging black firms as contractors and subcontractors, including women and youth-owned businesses had been empowered. And 20 emerging contractors has been trained through the contractor development programme.
“In addition, 154 township-based SMMEs are subcontracted to various new infrastructure projects to the value of R131-million,” he said.
Also, Gauteng planned on passing the Township Economic Development Bill this year.
“This… historic piece of provincial legislation… will remove the institutional and regulatory obstacles that hinder the development and growth of township businesses,” Makhura said.
He said the Welfare-to-Work programme – an initiative aimed at reducing the number of people on grants – 3000 jobs and small business opportunities for young mothers had been created.
And through the Tshepo 1 Million programme, 94,839 young people had been placed in formal jobs, internships, learnerships and business opportunities.
He said Gauteng was an example of how the state could be involved in contributing to job creation and business development, while at the same time creating an enabling environment for mass employment in the private sector.