Cape Town - 140219 - The debate on President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address (SONA) entered a second day today as opposition parties and ANC members took turns debating. Pictured is Tim Harris. Picture: David Ritchie

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma’s promise of “far-reaching interventions”, to fix the frail economy, has been welcomed by both the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape government leaders in economic investment.

Head of investment in the Mayor’s Office Tim Harris told the Cape Argus on Wednesday: “The president re-committed to accelerating economic growth to 5 percent in five years, working with business to remove constraints to investment, boosting trade in Africa, and implementing a new national broadband strategy to reduce the costs of connectivity.

“If these commitments translate into actual action by national government, then this programme will align with the City of Cape Town’s efforts to turn ours into an ‘opportunity city’.

“If there is no implementation, then our city government will be left to do much of the heavy lifting to drive growth higher and extend opportunity in Cape Town.”

The Western Cape’s Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde, said: “We will continue to focus on economic growth and jobs.

“The president spoke on two of our main growth sectors, being agriculture and tourism. We are working hard to create jobs in both these spaces and we hope to see the same commitment from the national government.”

But Winde warned the ANC had actively “disrupted the agriculture space by fuelling conflict between employers and employees, politicised an important job-creation tool like the Industrial Development Zone and threatened to take successful tourism events away from the Western Cape and hold them in other provinces”.

Regarding specific projects cited by Zuma, Winde said they supported the raising of the Clanwilliam Dam, and agreed with the National Development Plan that irrigation projects and infrastructure were “key job creators”.

On the tourism sector, Winde reported in the second quarter of last year the Western Cape got 23.6 percent of South Africa’s total tourist spend.

“Over the next three years, the province is set to welcome 3.6 million international visitors. Tourism spend is set to total R39 billion between now and 2017.

“By giving tourists more reasons to visit the Western Cape, we aim to increase the industry’s contribution to the province’s GDP from 10 percent to 15 percent.”

And Winde agreed with the president the agriculture sector remained “one of very few viable industries in the South African rural areas”.

“The million jobs the president mentioned relates to the National Development Plan ’s take on agriculture. The basic argument of the NDP is that labour-intensive, export-oriented irrigation farming should be the foundation of employment and wealth creation in the rural areas. This type of agriculture is already well established in the Western Cape.

“We can still expand through increased water use efficiency, a focus on appropriate crops and the construction of new irrigation schemes.”

Winde called for top-level meetings with the national agriculture ministry to make this happen.

“In terms of the land reform, there are 81 equity share schemes that are growing and creating jobs. We are asking the national government to reconsider financing this model. An independent audit recently found in terms of other land reform projects, 62 percent of these projects are sustainable.”

Cape Argus