PRETORIA – President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday urged companies doing business in South Africa, government entities and the general populace to prioritise purchasing locally manufactured goods and products in a bid to create and save jobs.
"For the economy to grow and for jobs to be created, it is essential that there is a substantial increase in domestic demand. This means that South African companies, government and consumers must buy local," said Ramaphosa in his keynote address at the jobs summit in Midrand.
"If we do not buy the food that comes out of South African soil, there will be no farms and no farmworkers. If we do not buy the goods made by South African hands, there will be no factories and no workers.The most direct way for South Africans and South African companies to create jobs is to buy only South African products."
Ramaphosa said the message to "buy local must reverberate across the country and it must find expression in concrete action".
"Government has undertaken to simplify and speed up the process for the designation of products for local procurement, and organised labour, in partnership with Proudly SA, will proactively identify opportunities for new designations. As part of this agreement, a number of companies have made specific commitments to local procurement initiatives as part of their operational strategies," said Ramaphosa.
The companies mentioned by Ramaphosa include Adcock Ingram, Anglogold Ashanti, Clientele, Coca Cola SA, Edcon, First Rand, Lixil, Mondi, Nandos, Nestle, AB InBev, Sappi, Sasol, Standard Bank and Tsogo Sun.
Buy SA Circle
"They will be the first to be invited to join a ‘Buy SA Circle’, which recognises companies that are leaders in buying local and have demonstrated in practice their commitment to supporting South African enterprise. Companies that sign up to this commitment will, among other things, be celebrated at an annual dinner convened by the President," said Ramaphosa.
He said while promoting local demand, social partners have also identified the need to more aggressively promote South African exports.
"From this Jobs Summit, we will embark on an export drive that prioritises manufactured and processed goods, ensuring that we derive the full employment benefit of our mineral and agricultural resources. We will seize the opportunities presented by regional integration and the establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area to produce more goods for other African markets," said Ramaphosa.
"Social partners have agreed to unblock impediments to expanding exports – such as inefficiencies at ports and poor knowledge of potential markets – and to ensure greater support to companies seeking export opportunities. Through this framework agreement, we will be mobilising finance on a far greater scale, ensuring that it is focused on building our manufacturing capacity."
He said the financial sector in South Africa, as part of its transformation code, will invest R100 billion over five years in black-owned industrial enterprises.
Ramaphosa said his government will work with the financial sector to develop facilities for financing at preferential rates and extended repayment terms.
The President convened the summit as South Africa grapples with stubbornly high unemployment, currently at 27.2 percent of the labour force.
As the summit kicked off on Thursday afternoon, a group calling itself Unemployed South Africans gathered outside the venue, arguing that their interests are not represented in the conference.
African News Agency (ANA)