Western Cape Government Should Focus On Mass Economic Reform To Curb Poverty, Joblessness And Social Insecurity

GOOD Statement by Shaun August
GOOD National Organiser & Member Of The WCPP

20 September 2022

The global Covid19 outbreak floored international trade and destroyed national economies; a tragedy unlike anything we South Africans and the global world of nations experienced before. Now, in the face of the Provincial Economic Review Outlook (PERO) the Western Cape government should place a central focus on economic reform as a key priority of our post-Covid19 recovery. 

These are indeed unprecedented times, and the importance of restoring our economic framework should take preference, but we will fundamentally fail if we repeat past mistakes that only benefits a select group of stakeholders, at the expense of others. 

The WC economy and that of local municipalities were not left unaffected by the global health challenge; however, poor economic activity is not the sole result of the pandemic as the provincial economy has been on a steady decline since 2012 with economic growth ending up at a mere 0.22% in 2019.

In 2020, understandably, the Western Cape economy entered a recession which saw it plummeting to -6.02%. Last year, due to the return of economic activity and ease of lockdown restrictions, we observed a leap in economic growth to 4.83%.

Factors influencing this growth are mining and quarrying; agriculture, forestry and fishery; wholesale and retail, and hotels and restaurants. The growth we are seeing stems from established, industrialised conglomerates who dominate sectors of trade. 

Township economies and informal traders are disregarded as their contribution, in comparison to bigger players, is often considered insignificant. Nationally, spaza shops contribute approximately R100- to R200bn annually to the economy, with the township food market alone valued at R80bn. 

In his 2022 State of the Province Address Premier Alan Winde stated that our single biggest priority is to create jobs and establish an environment where the private sector leads with job creation. MEC Wenger reiterates this call but fails to deliver on exactly job creation will be prioritized, the sectors in focus and what resources the provincial government will make available to spearhead this employment campaign. 

We accept that the private sector plays a vital role in our economic recovery and job creation is our single strongest intervention to change how majority of the people of this province accesses or participates in the economy. However, as important as it is, the informal sector should be regarded as equally important as established businesses. To drive and champion mass employment, all avenues must be explored, not only those sectors that will benefit the businesses of friends of politicians. 

Promising industries such as aquaculture, the circular economy and horticulture have shown great potential in which SME’s can be established, operate and become sustainable businesses to positively contribute to our national unemployment crisis. 

With all this in mind, ineffective policy, economic bias and clouded judgement from this provincial administration is keeping locks on a lucrative sector, informal trade, that could grow local development, secure mass employment in those corners of the province that remains completely overlooked and develop communities that DA-policy is perpetually keeping poor. 

Media Enquiries:

Shaun August, GOOD National Organiser & Member of Western Cape Provincial Parliament
Cell: 074 746 7378
Email: shauna@forgood.org.za

Janke Tolmay, GOOD: Media Manager
Cell: 0733671223
Email: janke@forgood.org.za