Tim Harris will leave the City of Cape Town to head up Wesgro, the provinces trade and investment promotion agency. Photo: COURTNEY AFRICA

Cape Town - Tim Harris is to leave the City of Cape Town in March to head up Wesgro, the province’s trade and investment promotion agency.

Until then, Harris will remain in the city’s employ, said deputy mayor Ian Neilson.

“The city is pioneering a new approach to trade and investment and will continue to forge ahead with this work with Harris’s successor.”

It will be his third job move in 12 months.

Harris, the former DA spokesman on finance, left Parliament in May to join the mayor’s office as the head of trade and investment for the city.

Harris said then that with two years to go until the 2016 local government elections, the city was committed to extending Cape Town’s lead as SA’s premier investment destination. On Wednesday, he said he was looking forward to his role, this time with a provincial agency. “With a mandate to promote trade, investment and tourism in the Western Cape, Wesgro has a unique opportunity to help drive economic growth rates higher.”

Professor Brian Figaji, chair of the Wesgro board of directors, announced on Wednesday that Harris would take over from outgoing chief executive Nils Flaatten, whose contract expires early next year.

There had been 119 applications for the post. A shortlist of eight candidates was narrowed down to three, with Harris emerging as the most preferred candidate.

His appointment for a three-year term has already been ratified by the Board.

 

Harris said his team would work with the government and companies to make the city and the province one of the country’s most business-friendly destinations.

Alan Winde, MEC of Economic Opportunities, said Harris had a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the economy. “As the new CEO, he will be in charge of growing the Western Cape’s footprint on the global map.”

Winde said Flaatten had served the province with “vigour and great passion” during his term. One of the key results during this time was the merger of Cape Town Routes Unlimited into Wesgro. Under his guidance, Wesgro brought in R6.6 billion foreign direct investment into the province, creating more than 4 600 jobs. The agency also bid on conferences that had an economic impact of R474 million, said Winde.

But the appointment was slammed by Cosatu, who said Harris’s position had been a “parking bay” until he could move to Wesgro.

Tony Ehrenreich said: “The city created a job for Harris where there was none, and no budget. They took money that should have been used to deliver services to poor people, so that they could create white jobs. This is the clearest indication yet of the cadre deployment strategy of the DA, where incompetents are given cosy positions, with made-up jobs. There was a song and dance from the DA on the importance of the position that Harris was going to occupy in the city. Now it is exposed that he is just another ‘jobs for pals’ recipient.”

Flaatten will return to the private sector.

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Cape Argus