Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a talk given by Western Cape Premier Alan Winde. He addressed the audience on federal powers and some of the success regarding policing and electrical production.
It appears that the Western Cape, working with the City of Cape Town, has put an enormous amount of their respective budgets into developing self-sufficiency for policing and electrical production.
I had an opportunity to discuss the issue with regard to job creation in the province and the premier’s initiative with regard to the reduction of red tape across the board.
I had some ideas about how the provincial governments could enhance job creation by taking a careful look at the labour legislation and working within the law. The premier advised me that he had a team working on ideas, within the ambit of the legislative framework, on how to tackle specific areas of need in the province.
The premier was excited to include a careful look at the labour legislation to see where the province could enhance job creation in certain instances. Likewise, I have been engaging with the Free Market Foundation in Johannesburg. It has also had a careful look at ways to create jobs, within the legislative environment.
Some of the ideas could be matched with forward-thinking provinces that would want to go beyond the restrictive environment set by the national government.
I am aware of at least three provinces that are carefully looking at ways to enhance small business and their ability to take up unemployed individuals within their businesses.
The unemployment situation is so dire in South Africa that we can’t wait for the national government to eventually realise it can’t be business as usual.
About three years ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa set up another one of his think tanks to have a look at legislation that is hindering economic growth and development.
Ramaphosa’s idea resonated strongly with me. I was hoping and praying that the concept would go beyond thinking and would translate into practical suggestions and changes.
As far as I am aware, the think tank has not been dissolved, but it has not produced results. One would have thought that over the past few years, we would have seen at least a few reports and some movement. However, this was not to be.
We are all aware of the promises made in Ramaphosa’s most recent State of the Nation Address (Sona). As part of the promises and ideas expanded in the Sona, Ramaphosa turned to the small business community and job creation. Once again, I was excited about the prospect. At least our president has acknowledged that the government does not create jobs; it could create only an environment to enable the business community to create jobs.
At least the Presidency has recognised and espoused the fact that it is small business that should be the first port of call to tackle the scourge of unemployment. All this is exciting. The unfortunate problem with the Sona and the think tank is that, a usual, there is no mention of urgency or even target dates for some sort of movement. The whole of South Africa has become aware that a lot of the promises, thoughts and even dreams mentioned in the past few Sonas never come to fruition.
The presidential thoughts, dreams and promises are destined to remain mere words on paper. The premiers and their provincial governments are at the coal face of the astounding poverty in each of their respective provinces. The nine premiers have Ramaphosa’s blessing, as expounded in his past Sona, to explore and implement the reduction of red tape and ways of enabling the business community to create jobs.
His blessing should be seen as the catalyst and an instruction. Winde is aware of the urgent need to make the environment business friendly.
Winde comes from a small business background and is well versed in the problems faced by small businesses. In his position, he has the ability to research and implement ways to remove the obstacles. Likewise, every other premier should ask their governments to form task teams on how to make their province job creation friendly. South Africa is a great country. We have innovative people, a young population and a thirst for innovation.
All the provinces have natural resources and a dire need to get the youth into the workplace.
The incentives are there and I strongly believe our Constitution and law will allow every premier to step in and help the business community overcome every obstacle in their way.
I come from a Chamber of Commerce background and am aware that every Chamber of Commerce would be more than happy to assist the premiers with the urgent task.
* Michael Bagraim.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
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