Durban — Buy local. That’s the rallying call Proudly South African, the country’s official localisation advocacy campaign, has made to the private sector in Durban this week.
The call comes at a time when the rate of unemployment is at its highest and the economy sluggish.
Eustace Mashimbye, CEO of Proudly South African, appealed to the business community and those with buying power to think about the impact of their purchases.
“Every time you buy products from outside the country, you take away work from a South African. Buying local means you create jobs and sustain the ones we have,” said Mashimbye.
He painted a depressing picture of how the manufacturing sector had suffered over the years, and while business was being conducted with international companies and economies elsewhere were boosted, locals with skills to produce the same goods were now unemployed.
“The impact of products coming into the country when there are other alternatives is that it takes away contributions to the GDP. You have less people paying tax by way of employment taxes, revenues of businesses that are doing well, because as companies continue doing well, their revenue goes up and their tax contribution goes up,” said Mashimbye.
He said goods that carried the Proudly South African logo had gone through stringent testing and followed set standards, including material that had been locally sourced and produced, met a standard of quality, was conscious of the environment and complied with labour relations.
Economist Iraj Abedian, a keynote speaker at the event, presented the third Revitalising SA report looking at manufacturing and its subsectors.
The report took into account the multiplier effects manufacturing has on the country’s growth, exports, job creation and fiscal revenue generation.
The report found that the economy had been languishing under years of structural impediments that stifled its optimal growth.
Abedian said: “Localisation of the industry is possible but requires removing some obstacles. Some of them are systematic like electricity, water and infrastructure, while the other is sector-specific. If you want to revitalise agro-processing, you must ask those in the agro-business what obstacles they face. That is something the sector must resolve and that then brings us to the government’s policy of master plans for different sectors,” he said.
Abedian said an injection of investment in one of the sectors would impact the rest of the economy.
“An investigation into the potential impact of injections into the manufacturing sector has increasingly become important given the deteriorating state of the economy, the structural nature of the country’s labour force, widespread poverty and dire unemployment prospects,” he said.
Sihle Ngcamu, CEO of KwaZulu-Natal Trade and Investment, said the government was committed to supporting businesses that ensured local production.
He said there was a growing frustration among the youth and that frank dialogues about what could be achieved practically would be needed to bridge the gap. He envisioned this to take place at a business and youth event planned for June.