KZN Premier Willies Mchunu sees broader economic development as the key to liberation.
KZN Premier Willies Mchunu sees broader economic development as the key to liberation.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu has reiterated on various platforms the importance of the last two years of the term of office of this government.

He has stated firmly that radical economic transformation should feature in all programmes of provincial government departments, including municipalities.

He has singled out vulnerable members of society such as women, youth and Africans in particular as deserving special attention. He believes the redistribution of wealth and the creation of an equal society will help strengthen our democracy.

It is for these reasons he has been interacting with captains of industry and organised labour to ensure the uptake of all programmes aimed at speeding up radical economic transformation.

When we started the previous term of office in 2009, our province was reeling from the impact of the global economic meltdown. After many years of growth, South Africa’s economy was in recession for the first time since the new democratic dispensation.

The greatest impact of recession was in various sectors of the economy, especially manufacturing, with many industries closing down. Thousands of people were condemned to rural villages and peri-urban informal settlements with no means of survival.

Over the past eight years, programmes of the ANC-led provincial government have been implemented to help the people of this province to survive through the rough storm that all mankind in different parts of the globe has to navigate.

In August 2009, the provincial government established an Economic Council involving the major players in industry, especially, automotive, clothing and textile, manufacturing, construction and other sectors which were more adversely affected.

The response of our national government to the global economic meltdown was focused on injecting more resources in sustaining growth in the absence of increased inflows of private sector investments.

Our province had its fair share of these investments, such as in the refurbishment of the Durban and Richards Bay ports, the Ngula Eskom power station in the Drakensberg, Dube Trade Port, King Shaka International Airport, several road upgrades and provincial capital projects that have been publicised in the past.

Importantly, the provincial government took a decision to focus on Foreign Direct Investment.

Government identified FDI as one of the crucial catalysts for economic development, income growth and employment creation.

In this regard, the provincial government has been inviting potential investors from other parts of the globe and directing them to the Dube Trade Port and the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ).

In pursuing foreign direct investment, the provincial government is guided by the Provincial Growth and Development Plans which is linked to the National Development Plan.

All efforts aimed at attracting foreign direct investment are bearing fruit, judging by the number of investments that have been pouring into the province.

In RBIDZ, to date, government has signed investments of more than R11.9 billion representing different key sectors of the economy.

In the process more than 1 232 permanent jobs have been created with 3 136 jobs during the construction phase.

Over the next few months RBIDZ will be working towards finalising investments of more than R4.1bn emanating from different sectors of our key focus. From these we expect 868 permanent jobs and 1 260 jobs during the construction.

This week, the people of KwaZulu-Natal welcomed the announcement of a R4.5bn investment by Nyanza Light Metals at the RBIDZ.

Mchunu has reiterated that government’s quest to form partnerships is motivated by the desire to ensure that ordinary people benefit from natural resources.

Government is calling for a partnership with the private sector to convert our resources into wealth that builds rural economies for the benefit of communities who are the real owners of the land.

Mchunu has stated government is aware that development may increase income and spatial inequalities.

There are economic hubs such as Richards Bay, which were geared to serve the interests of the imperial metropolis at the expense of ordinary surrounding communities.

The focus is on increasing sharply the entry of people from previously disadvantaged communities into the mainstream economy.

We are creating a society in which there is no under-development and extreme poverty.

Poverty creates a vicious cycle of hunger and poverty across generations. It contributes to social instability such as crime and moral decay, and compounds the impact of under-development.

This government is therefore focusing on the elimination of all the root causes of poverty and under-development.

Mchunu is inviting captains of industry and foreign governments to join us on a journey to create an equitable and prosperous province.

He has stated unequivocally that our success as KZN is critical for the success of the continent.

• Sibiya is Premier Willies Mchunu’s spokesperson.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.