01 June 2018

In celebration of the life and times of Mama Albertina Sisulu, the previously marginalised youth and women are set to benefit from thousands of job opportunities in the province with initiatives and projects directly aimed at driving inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

In delivering the provincial budget at the KZN Legislature last week, the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Sihle Zikalala was forthright in his message that the economy of KwaZulu-Natal must be configured in such a way that it empowers the previously marginalised, being Black Africans, the youth and women.

Although the current economic climate has left the province’s department with a little overR3 billion budget, MEC Zikalala has revealed that this will not deter the department from reaching its potential of creating some 20 000 or more job opportunities and ensuring that the province was unflinching in the manner in which it will advance radical economic transformation.

Operation Vula, the province’s radical economic transformation programme and the Radical Agrarian Socio-Economic Transformation (RASET), which were launched in the Harry Gwala District by the former State President, His Excellency Jacob Zuma, is set to be at the forefront of this mission with R57 million set aside to fund RASET projects that will be implemented in the 2018/2019 financial year. The RASET fund is to be administered by Ithala Bank.

Zikalala said this initiative would guarantee a market for small-scale emerging enterprises such as co-operatives that would supply products to different government departments. The fund will support, among others, projects in vegetable production, grain milling, poultry and dairy products. Beyond commitments to the programme by provincial departments and district municipalities, Zikalala revealed that the department has received a firm commitment from private sector stakeholders including the Spar Group to Operation Vula and RASET.

“Operation Vula is a practical vehicle to mobilise all sectors of the economy towards achieving meaningful economic transformation in the province and to remove apartheid inspired socioeconomic disparities where black communities were deliberately excluded from active participation in the country’s economy,” Zikalala said.

Also expressing concerns over the slow pace of radical economic transformation in the province, Zikalala announced that many of the challenges experienced with regards to this were as a result of the lack of capacity at district level and thus the provincial government would convene RASE laboratories in each of the 11 districts which “will craft detailed plans with clear targets as well as public commitment on the implementation of the plans”.The province’s Executive Council has also approved the establishment of the KwaZulu-Natal Economic Transformation Monitoring Council.

The Council will monitor the implementation of economic transformation initiatives; adherence to economic transformation prescripts and liaise with various bodies in order to strengthen the implementation of such initiatives.

The province will also convene a KZN Radical Economic Transformation Summit which will provide a platform for stakeholders to discuss and make recommendations on how to address various challenges relating to access to economic opportunities. The outcome of this Summit will be the crafting and adoption of a provincial framework for the implementation of radical economic transformation.

Zikalala also announced plans to undertake a B-BBEE audit of the province’s top 100 companies. “The audit, or verification process, which also extends to all government entities and departments, will include the identification of opportunities for small enterprises and will also analyse the procurement spend and who benefits from these opportunities”.

A total of R6,5 million has been set aside for the task that will see a full report forwarded to the KZN Economic Transformation Monitoring Council for processing and further action,” said Zikalala.