President Jacob Zuma File picture: Phill Magakoe
Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma will on Tuesday launch the 1038-hectare Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at the cash-strapped Maluti-A-Phofung Local Municipality in Harrismith, eastern Free State.

Zuma will be joined by the Minister of Trade and Industry (DTI) Dr Rob Davies and his deputy, Gratitude Magwanishe, the Premier of the Free State Ace Magashule and several provincial MECs.

Magashule said in a statement that the SEZ would create opportunities for manufacturing as well as a regional and international trade environment with added value chain within the Maluti-A-Phofung Municipality.

Magashule said:"The social and economic benefits, as well as regional development, will be key and will be enhanced by creating a prosperous trade city and functional trade ecosystem, which will enable the beneficiation of mineral and natural resources and attract foreign direct investment".

He added: "The priority sectors for the Maluti-A-Phofung SEZ are automotive, agro-processing, logistics, ICT, pharmaceuticals and general processing".

Davies said the launch of the Maluti-A-Phofung was another significant milestone in the implementation of the department’s SEZ Programme, which is aimed at accelerating economic growth and development in designated regions of the country. "The Industrial Policy Action Plan identifies SEZs as key contributors to economic development. They are growth engines towards government's strategic objectives of industrialisation, regional development and employment creation," Davies said.

"The SEZ programme has entered a full implementation phase. This is one of the critical instruments that the dti is using to accelerate industrialisation in the country."

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Maluti-A-Phofung Municipality, which includes areas such as Harrismith and Qwaqwa, recently threw a "homecoming" concert for former SABC chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, in Phuthaditjhaba.

Qwaqwa residents have in recent times gone for periods without water, relying on water tanks deliveries in the area. The tankers then stopped delivering water claiming they were owed payments by municipality.

The SEZ programme is one of the critical instruments which the dti is using to accelerate industrialisation in the country has attracted billions of rand to South Africa.

A number of incentives and benefits are available to ensure SEZs growth, revenue generation, creation of jobs, attraction of foreign direct investment and international competitiveness. These include a preferential 15 percent corporate tax, building allowance, and customs controlled area.