File photo: Gauteng Premier David Makhura has appealed to township residents to help transform their settlements into economic hubs.

Johannesburg - Gauteng Premier David Makhura has appealed to residents of Soweto and other townships to help transform their settlements into economic hubs as a viable means of job creation.

Makhura pledged that the provincial government would help empower and finance people who formed small enterprises and co-operatives.

This, he said on Monday, was part of the government’s “radical economic transformation” and a fitting way to honour the young people killed in the June 16, 1976 Soweto uprising.

“We want the bread eaten here to be baked by people from Soweto, the uniform to be made by the people of Soweto. Our commitment is to revitalise the (township) economy and break the barriers of the capitalist economy,” Makhura said.

He was speaking at the official unveiling of the June 16 Memorial Acre in Soweto.

A fired-up Makhura, flanked by Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi and Finance MEC Barbara Creecy, made bold promises about supporting small businesses in the townships.

“I pledge that this government has a budget. The City of Johannesburg has a budget of R40 billion. The (Gauteng provincial) government I lead has a budget of R80bn… The time is over for our fathers and mothers to wait for work from the firms. We must tackle the problem of unemployment through township enterprises.”

Makhura later led hundreds of schoolchildren and residents on a symbolic walk of freedom from Morris Isaacson High School to Phefeni High School in Orlando West, where he handed broadband and wi-fi devices to the school.

He promised informal carpenters making furniture along the way that “the City of Johannesburg and our Department of Economic Development will help them to register”.

“The Gauteng Enterprise Propeller is going to train them to produce the best, even better-quality furniture. And if the government I lead buys furniture, all the departments are going to buy furniture from township enterprises,” he said, also singling out an informal restaurant in Orlando West.

“The townships must be able to produce everything you eat and everything we wear. They mustn’t go to Sandton to buy there. Those who live in Sandton must buy from Sandton; you must buy from the township,” he said to rapturous applause.

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The Star