As the country gears up for the national and provincial elections, expected to take place in May, Proudly South African put a few political parties on the spot to debate their policies on local procurement.
Proudly South African is the country’s advocacy campaign that aims to influence procurement in public and private sectors, to increase local production, influence consumers to buy local and stimulate job creation.
Last Thursday, February 28, representatives of the African National Congress (ANC), Democratic Alliance (DA), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), GOOD, Congress of the Peope (COPE), AGANG SA, the Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO) and The Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP) together with trade unions, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) were provided with a platform to share their plans for local procurement as a means to create jobs and grow the country’s economy.
Representing the UDM, Western Province leader, Mphuthumi Ntabeni said they took local manufacturing seriously.
He said the country should have control where it has an economic advantage.
“Take platinum, for example, 87% of the platinum that was produced globally was coming from South Africa yet only 13% of it was manufactured here. What we would do as the United Democratic Movement (UDM), if we could have the licence, we would say up to 60% of what you get here, must be manufactured here, the platinum is mined here and it must be manufactured here,” he said.
AgangSA’s Andries Tlouamma said to understand localisation, the country needed to know who controlled it first.
The DA was represented by its spokesman on Trade and Industry, Dean Macpherson, who said they wanted the private sector to come on board and support local procurement.
He said there’s a need to drive down the cost of manufacturing in South Africa.
“Cut taxes on manufacturers to make it more cost efficient for them and I have no doubt that we’re going to create a South Africa with great and sustainable jobs,” he said.
The ANC’s Faiz Jacobs said the “Local is Lekker” slogan needed to be brought back.
He said this required work and co-operative engagement among citizens.
“We have to understand that it’s wrong to import stuff from Brazil that we know will kill local businesses.”
Mr Jacobs was grilled about thousands of ANC branded T-shirts that were manufactured in China in 2014. He answered that that had been wrong of the ANC.
The EFF’s Yoliswa Yako, said the EFF represents the marginalised group hence they were the first party to fight for in-sourcing.
She said their plan was to create and stimulate industries that will be sustainable in the long-term and create jobs.
“When we talk about massive industrial development, we are talking about specifically where people from, for example, are mines contributing back to the communities which they are surrounding? No, so we want to enforce the state that 80% must plough back to the communities,” she said.
Representing the Good party, Brett Herron, said the starting point was to ensure that almost everything was local.
He said 65% of South Africans lived in towns and cities and that number would rise to 80% in the next decade.
“So, we ‘re talking about cities and towns having more powers to control their own economic growth and job creation and industrial strategies.”
Mr Herron said economic growth didn’t necessarily translate to better and more jobs.
“The top 1% is actually benefiting from the economic expansion and the rest of us are not. The role of a Good government is to ensure that we have inclusive growth where the average household is benefiting from economic growth,” he said.
SWRP’s Shaheed Mohammed said they still saw a big problem with the economic growth in the province because of apartheid spatial planning.
“We need to have a shared and inclusive growth. If you look in the farming industry, 99% of it is in the hands of white people. We need to change that,” he said.
Sipho Vanga from the Azapo emphasised the need for stricter regulations on imports.
“We cannot still be importing chicken in South Africa. Those are things that can be done here. Raw material should also be manufactured here,” he said.
He said the skills were needed so that the people could tap in other industries such as maritime.
Sactwu’s Simon Eppel urged the politicians to understand that there was no need to own the state and be the government to make this happen.
“Policies don’t do much unless you put your hands and your hearts and take action. What changed apartheid wasn’t policies, but people who were thinking beyond policies. Approximately 134 workers in a factory in Cape Town are in the brink of losing their jobs. What are young going to do about this?” asked Mr Eppel.