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SALGA Council of Mayors: Boosting local economies, creating an enabling environment for both job seekers and job creators

 


Posted: 06 February 2019

Day one of the SALGA Council of Mayors (SCoM) kicked off today, Wednesday 6 February 2019 with over 150 Executive Mayors and Mayors in attendance at the Council Chambers in Cape Town.

Delegates were welcomed by the City of Cape Town Deputy Executive Mayor, Ald. Ian Neilson who unpacked some of the challenges faced by over 10 million South Africans who are in need of jobs. Neilson further acknowledged the efforts made by SALGA to convene the gathering which aims to grapple and tackle these issues.

The Alderman stated that local government needs to activate all the levers available to us to boost South African local economies and create an enabling environment for both job seekers and job creators. Moreover, municipalities need to start working together to ensure that more citizens are able to acquire the skills and resources needed to access employment. “As local government we need to activate all the levers available to us to boost our local economies, creating an enabling environment for both job seekers and job creators,” Neilson said.

Sharing some of the innovations the city is implementing Ald. Neilson highlighted that the Department of Investment and Enterprise is funding a number of special purpose vehicles to facilitate investment and job creation within Cape Town. As a result, between July and December 2018, three of these SPVs, namely Business Process Enabling South Africa (BPeSA) Western Cape, Wesgro and GreenCape, facilitated investments to the value of R1,2 billion and in the process created 2 286 employment opportunities.

In addition, following the Department of Health regulations to improve the hygiene and safety practices of informal food vendors, the City started hosting free monthly training sessions for informal vendors to help them become compliant with these regulations. This practise is then evident that interventions do not always have to be large-scale and costly.

Whilst setting the scene for the two-day event, SALGA and UCLG President Parks Tau encouraged delegates that discussions should focus on “the direct or indirect role of municipalities in promoting investment through the creation of a conducive environment that will ultimately lead to meaningful job creation”. In doing so, Cllr Tau referenced President Ramaphosa’s 2018 State of the Nation Address wherein he proposed a range of measures to set the country on a new path of growth, employment and transformation. This included the implementation of the Economic Stimulus and Recovery Plan – “a response to years of stagnant economic growth, declining Foreign Direct Investment, high unemployment rate, high household indebtedness and high levels of poverty.”

“The interest of Local Government leaders should be on how the Plan will land in the respective localities and impact on the role of municipalities,” Tau said. Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Zweli Mkhize further reiterated the point when he called on Mayors to champion Local Economic Development and support in municipalities. The minister highlighted that it is the responsibility of each mayor and council to find a competitive edge to attract more investment which could include the development of industrial parks.

During his address, Dr Mkhize recognised the importance of small businesses stating that they are at the “heart of creating employment” and that each municipality should be leading in creating employment in their spaces. “Some of the efforts already underway involve conversations with the DTI and Department of Small Business Development, Dr Mkhize said.

In achieving this, complemented Mr Bheki Sibiya from WinWin-Partners “business and governments need to stop being rude to one another.” For instance, arrogance exists between both parties, which calls for cooperation resulting in mutual survival and prosperity.

Throughout the day, the common thread amongst the debates and discussions was clear that ‘Enhancing the role of municipalities in promoting investment and job creation’ requires urgent attention across multiples sectors and platforms. As summarized by Ald. Ian Neilson, “we acknowledge that we cannot do this alone, we have to find ways to work more closely with partners across all sectors if we are to turn this ship around”.

Day two of the SCoM will continue on Thursday, 7 February 2019 where topics such as Enhancing Strategic Partnerships to promote inclusive growth and Revitalisation of Small Towns to stimulate investments will be explored.

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