Cape Town. 140409. Ebrahim Patel visits the Levi factory in Epping industria to speak about the future of the working future. Reporter Jason Felix. PIcture COURTNEY AFRICA

Cape Town - Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel has told clothing factory workers that his department invested R5 billion into creating jobs in the industry since he took office in 2009.

On a visit yesterday to workers at the Levi Strauss factory, the only in Africa and one of four globally, Patel said that there was a future for the industry – and more jobs could be created with innovative fashion thinking.

He said South Africa was lucky to be the only country on the continent to have a Levi Strauss factory.

“We know that Levi’s is a company that outsources all their manufacturing. They did no want to do business with South Africa during apartheid, but at the dawn of our democracy they came here to do business,” Patel said.

His visit to the factory in Epping comes after workers had asked him to report back on what the government had done to assist the clothing industry.

Patel, a former SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu) general secretary, left the union in 2009 and was appointed to the cabinet by President Jacob Zuma.

He added that in the last five years there had been a dramatic reduction in job losses with new factories starting up.

The formal industry employs just over 94 000 people and the informal sector 56 000, he said.

“There are many challenges we have in the clothing sector. Our infrastructure is outdated, the speed of production is still lacking. We also have the problem of illegal goods that sees people evading paying taxes,” he said. - Cape Times