Forestry stakeholders, employees, alarmed at demise of local economy as humanitarian disaster lingers
Around 150 employees at the Boskor Sawmill in Tsitsikamma despair at the prospect of losing their jobs as MTO Forestry trucks logs to George, 150km away. MTO Forestry is partly owned by the Global Environment Fund, a US-based investment fund and its products are certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC).
The sawmill and the forestry operations in the area were originally set up by the State specifically to generate sustainable socio-economic activity in the Tsitsikamma area. That effort and investment is now in jeopardy, says Hans Hanekom, CEO of Swartland Investments, one of South Africa’s major manufacturers of windows, doors, garage doors and related products, and a locally owned business that has taken up the cudgels on behalf of the workers and other sawmills in the Tsitsikamma area.
Hanekom says, “It’s shocking to us – and to the hundreds of workers affected, and their families – that MTO is risking the economic viability of an entire community at a time when unemployment is soaring and everyone should be made to avert job losses.
“This will quite simply be a humanitarian disaster for the area. MTO has not responded to any of the pertinent concerns raised about its actions. One: trucking logs out of Tsitsikamma sabotages the State’s efforts to create and sustain jobs and socio-economic development in the area, a crucial intervention in the light of Covid-19.
“Two: Doing so contravenes its FSC accreditation. As it stands, the current total area that hasn’t been planted with trees is very high. What is worse is that MTO intends to have this percentage of unplanted area increase in the future. This will certainly lead to a total destruction of the sawmilling industry in the Tsitsikamma in the near future if not rectified.
“Surely, MTO should be utilising the insurance pay-out received after the fire to replant the burnt area as soon as possible, and not use this capital as a short-term payout for their foreign investors, as it appears to be doing?
“Three: apart from creating untold humanitarian hardship, MTO is causing environmental damage, including carbon emissions, all of which are avoidable.”
Hanekom says that MTO’s plan to remove logs from the area for processing, “Will force its sawmill to start the retrenchment process in 2021 and also force Swartland to lay off about 200 employees at its manufacturing plants in Cape Town.”
The removal of logs from the Tsitsikamma will also result in other sawmills having to reduce staff in 2021. This could result in around 300 more people being workless in the Tsitsikamma area.
“It’s been suggested by players in the forestry fraternity that MTO is intentionally creating a shortage of logs in order to drive up prices. Doing so at the expense of the livelihoods of hardworking breadwinners would be callous. Higher log prices and fewer logs available will halt any emerging equity businesses from being able to enter the industry which contradicts MTOs past statements about transformation and development.
Hanekom’s concerns are echoed by a number of long-time personnel at the Boskor mill, many of whom are second- or third-generation workers there.
Mpumleli Ndyindila started working at the sawmill as a labourer 15 years ago and through diligence and training has been promoted to senior operator. He says, “Through mentoring from senior personnel, I grew from a youngster into a responsible family man. About 80% of Tsitsikamma’s people are employed at the sawmill and in forestry. A few years ago, it was green all over the Tsitsikamma and it was full of pine-trees.
“But at this moment I cannot see a bright future for any of us living here. Without trees, there will be no logs and with no logs, there will be no sawmills, and that means that there will be no work or jobs for anyone in the Tsitsikamma area. Most families will struggle to survive. My community is very unhappy about the situation we have with MTO Forestry. Some of their workers were retrenched during the lockdown and if MTO continues with this, we will also be jobless soon.”
Randal Kettledas has worked at the Boskor sawmill for more than 26 years. At age 21 he was the plant’s youngest foreman and since 2017 has headed his department. His father worked at the mill for 30 years until his retirement in 2006. “After being a soldier in the Second World War, my grandfather worked in the forestry in Tsitsikamma area until he retired in 1980. Some of the trees he planted are now being harvested.
“It will be tragic and devastating if myself and 140 of my colleagues would lose our jobs because MTO is harvesting and transporting the logs from our area to their George sawmill.
“The people of Tsitsikamma rely heavily on the forest and sawmill for work. The only other source of jobs, tourism, has totally crumbled due to Covid-19. This has already caused big job-losses. My wife was retrenched recently, making me the sole provider for our family.
“MTO preaches social and economic redress for previously disadvantaged groups, especially in the Tsitsikamma region. I would like to ask them how the harvesting of logs for the George sawmill, and then postponing the planting of new trees benefit the poor of the poorest in The Tsitsikamma?”
- MTO is part-owned by the Global Environmental Fund, a fund that aims to promote sustainability;
- MTO’s actions are in breach of its FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) certification;
- Its actions imperil hundreds of jobs in the Tsitsikamma, a threat that could not come at a worse time for the workers, communities and the economy in the area, especially in the context of efforts by President Cyril Ramaphosa and the business community to drive economic recovery and investment, and SA’s downgrade by rating agencies. The area has suffered two hammer-blows: devastating fires and the collapse of its tourism economy due to the Covid-19 shutdown. This is apart from the environmental implications such as carbon emissions.
Venicia Danster has worked at the Boskor sawmill for 29 years and is an HR and admin clerk. She worked her way up the position from starting as a packer in 1990. “Each promotion gave the me opportunity to learn more in the company, and I’ve enjoyed every moment. But if the sawmill closes, I will have to sit at home, without an income. I support my daughter who is 20 and is studying HR in Port Elizabeth. I also have an adopted daughter, aged 10, who I support. I am very unhappy about the situation, as we all need an income to survive and support our families.
Althea Kivett was born and raised in Tsitsikamma and has worked at Boskor for 14 years. Her great-grandfather worked for many years planting trees and most of her descendants have too. She says, “Our lives have revolved around forestry as a sustainable, renewable resource, which MTO has now jeopordised.”
Allton Kamineth has worked at Boskor for 24 years and is a foreman in the plant’s kilns. She says, “Closing the mill would be catastrophic for the people of Tsitsikamma and what MTO is doing is terribly unfair. Our fathers and grandfathers planted these trees so that this community would have a livelihood, but what will become of our children and their children? How will we survive if MTO cuts down all the trees without replanting any?”View more
Jay Mac joins Festive Vegan & Plant Powered Show
The Festive Vegan & Plant Powered Show has announced that Jay Mac, of Cape Town’s acclaimed The Kind Kitchen restaurant, is the latest chef to join the line-up for the event. He joins the UK’s Gaz Oakley (aka the Avant-Garde Vegan), MasterChef Australia 2019 finalist Simon Toohey, The Test Kitchen’s Luke Dale Roberts, Zimbabwe’s Chef Cola and Foliage’s Chris Erasmus, for the online show which takes place on Saturday, November 28. Further chefs participating in the show are set to be named soon.
Jason McNamara – aka Jay Mac – gained his skills in vegan culinary arts at The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts in Austin, Texas, under the tutelage of Chef Inge Bothma in 2013. Five years later – and back in South Africa – he began offering his food to clients through the concept of a ‘dark kitchen’ via Uber Eats. But as his food gained in popularity he soon realised he needed to find a larger space to accommodate the growing demand for his vegan fare.
In August 2018 he crowd-funded his first traditional style café and deli with the aim of opening a small 16-seater café in the Woodstock Brewery and a month later The Kind Kitchen officially opened for business, offering brunch and select items for dinners Tuesday through to Saturday.
As Cape Town’s hunger for good vegan food has grown so too has the popularity of the popular eatery, which has been listed in both Eat Out and The Inside Guide as one of the hottest restaurants in Cape Town.
For the Festive Vegan & Plant Powered Show, Chef Jay Mac will be will be teaching visitors how to master the art of cooking with delicious oyster mushrooms and aubergines. He’ll be showcasing two types of high quality and protein packed Clearspring Misos to create a glaze and delicious umami flavour.
He will also demonstrate how to combine this with plant based yoghurt, seasonal greens and fermented blueberries in Taiwanese inspired bao buns to create a ‘masterchef style’ dish made with love, care and attention! The perfect gift to make and enjoy with those you love this festive season.
Says Jay Mac about his involvement in this online event: “2020 has been a year of reflection for all of us globally! Eating healthy and well balanced meals is imperative to maintain peace of mind. This is even more important in times of turmoil as most of us have experienced this year.
“Making healthy lifestyle choices for oneself and one’s family should be top of the list as we navigate this new world order. Being part of this forward thinking event gives chefs like me the opportunity to share knowledge and serve you and yours.”
Chef Jay Mac’s Scramble Wrap
For the scramble
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp black salt
¼ teaspoon black or white pepper
½ teaspoon coriander powder
1 tsp nutritional yeast
For the Filling
Handful of grated vegan mozzarella
¼ cup cashew cream
Handful of chopped baby spinach or kale
1 rasher vegan bacon
1 tsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tbs oil
1 butternut wrap
1 sheet tin foil/wax paper about the size of the wrap.
In a large bowl, scramble all the scramble ingredients with your hands or a fork then set aside in a sealable container. Place the wrap in a lightly oiled pan and heat on both sides for about 3-5min until slightly golden brown then remove and place onto tin foil adding grated cheese. Heat pan with oil and add the bacon and slightly crisp it by adding the tamari. Cook on each side for about a minute. Place the bacon over the cheese on the wrap.
Place half the scramble mix onto a warm pan and scramble for about 2min until the scramble turns bright yellow. Now add the spinach and sauté for another minute.
Reduce heat and add the cashew cream and cook for about 30 seconds. Add scramble to the readymade wrap then fold wrap up with the tinfoil. Cut in half and place the open ends, face down onto a hot pan to allow the cheese to melt and seal the ends. Serve with a side of avo, cashew cream or jalapeno cream cheese.
The online Festive Vegan & Plant Powered Show, which takes place on Saturday, November 28, from 11:00 to 17:00, will include a host of international and local chefs including Gaz Oakley, Simon Toohey, Luke Dale-Roberts, Chef Cola, Jay Mac, Chris Erasmus, Jenny Morris and Dion Ventagass, with more names to be added soon. Also featured in the show will be expert talks,The Great Big Festive Vegan Banquet and chef meet and greets.
Tickets for the FVPPS are now available from Quicket: https://www.quicket.co.za/events/115058-the-festive-vegan-plant-powered-show#/
SOCIAL MEDIA HANDLES
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President Ramaphosa | South Africa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan
15 October 2020
Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Thandi Modise,
Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Mr Amos Masondo,
Deputy President David Mabuza,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Honourable Members of the National Assembly and the NCOP,
Fellow South Africans,
I have requested this sitting of the Joint Houses of Parliament to present the plan for the reconstruction and recovery of our economy and our country.
In contrast to the State of the Nation Address, where we address the broad programme of government for the year, today I want to focus on the extraordinary measures we must take to restore our economy to inclusive growth following the devastation caused by Covid-19 to our people’s lives and our country’s economy.
This is a plan through which all of us as South Africans should work together to build a new economy.
The objectives of the plan are clear:
– To create jobs, primarily through aggressive infrastructure investment and mass employment programmes;
– To reindustrialise our economy, focusing on growing small businesses;
– To accelerate economic reforms to unlock investment and growth;
– To fight crime and corruption; and,
– To improve the capability of the state.
All these objectives are linked to the vision of our country set out in the National Development Plan.
Chairperson of the NCOP,
On this day seven months ago, we declared a national state of disaster to confront the greatest health emergency that the world has known in more than a century.
Since then, the coronavirus has infected more than 38 million people across the world and is responsible for more than a million deaths.
The reality that we must confront is that the pandemic will not be over soon.
Globally, the number of new Covid cases per day is currently at its highest level since the start of the pandemic.
This has far-reaching implications in every area of human development, from education to health, from food security to poverty alleviation, from the empowerment of women to social stability.
The pandemic continues to cause severe damage to the global economy, affecting trade, investment, production, international travel and global supply and demand.
No country has been spared. No economy has been unaffected.
This is also the case on our own continent.
In South Africa, the pandemic has caused great hardship and suffering.
In the 220 days since our first recorded case, more than 18,000 people are confirmed to have died from Covid-19.
The loss of these lives is not only devastating to the families who have lost loved ones but to the nation as well.
South Africa has over 700 000 confirmed cases.
At present, 90% of those infected have recovered.
As a result of the measures we took to delay transmission and to prepare our health facilities, we were able to withstand the massive surge of infections in the middle of July. At that time, new cases were being detected at an average rate of 500 an hour.
While the national lockdown in April had a significant impact on economic activity, the economic consequences of an uncontrolled surge would have been far worse.
Due to the dedication and sacrifices of millions of South Africans, we were able to limit the impact of the pandemic on lives and livelihoods.
For the last month and a half, even as we have significantly eased restrictions on movement and social and economic activity, the average number of daily cases has remained relatively stable at less than 2 000 cases.
But it is far too soon to declare victory.
The World Health Organisation warns that many countries have had a significant resurgence of infections following 4 to 8 weeks of low transmission.
It has also advised us that South Africa is now entering a phase that requires high vigilance and heightened readiness to respond.
Rather than easing our prevention efforts – including social distancing and observing health protocols – we must intensify them further to reduce new cases to less than 1 000 a day.
Coronavirus will remain part of our lives for some time to come, and we need to adjust to this new reality and a new normal in all areas of life.
Our health system must remain adequately staffed, equipped and financed to ensure we save lives.
We must rebuild, repair and restore our country not after Covid, but in the midst of Covid.
Our country had immense challenges for a number of years before coronavirus.
The coronavirus pandemic has worsened these challenges.
Poverty and inequality have deepened, threatening many South Africans with hunger and a sudden loss of income.
Our economy, like other economies, has contracted sharply, businesses have closed and jobs have been lost.
Notwithstanding these challenges, we were duty-bound to respond as a government and the nation to this pandemic in a way that demonstrated our care for the lives and livelihoods of our people.
Our response to the pandemic was therefore three-pronged – firstly, a robust health response, secondly, social and economic relief and now economic recovery.
As we anticipated the impact of the pandemic on the livelihoods of the people, we responded by implementing a massive social and economic relief package to support companies, workers, households and individuals in distress.
We announced a relief package which, with a total value of R500 billion or around 10% of GDP, is the biggest on the African continent and compares favourably with other countries in the G20.
Relative to the size of our economy, our social and economic relief response to Covid-19 is roughly on par with countries like Canada, Spain, the United States and Australia.
Through the special Covid-19 grants and the top-up of existing grants, close to R40 billion in additional support has been provided directly to more than 17 million people from poor households.
Studies have shown that these grants were vital in reducing the impact of the pandemic on levels of poverty and hunger.
The evidence suggests that the expansion of social protection has kept more than 5 million people above the food poverty line during the past six months.
The Special Covid-19 Grant in particular represents a significant achievement, reaching more than 6 million unemployed people in a short space of time.
More than 960 000 companies have benefited through the UIF wage support scheme and through the grants and loans provided by various government departments and public entities.
More than 4 million workers have received R49 billion in wage support, helping to protect these jobs even while companies were not able to operate.
In addition to those businesses that have received direct support, many more companies have benefited from tax relief measures worth in the region of R40 billion.
The South African Reserve Bank acted swiftly to support the economy and protect the financial system, reducing interest rates to their lowest level in more than 50 years.
With a view to protecting jobs and saving companies that employ our people from bankruptcy, we introduced another important intervention in the form of a R200 billion Loan Guarantee Scheme.
This scheme has thus far provided R16 billion in low-interest loans to almost 12 000 businesses.
Banks have together provided an additional R34 billion in debt relief to individuals and businesses.
Nonetheless, this is far short of what is needed and what is possible.
We are therefore working with the banks to ensure that more companies are able to access this assistance as they resume their operations, and that the full potential of this scheme can be realised.
The combined effect of the measures taken by government and its social partners has been to preserve our country’s economic capacity and lay the foundation for a more rapid recovery.
Despite these vital interventions, however, the damage caused by the pandemic to an already weak economy, to employment, to livelihoods, to public finances and to state-owned companies has been colossal.
More than 2 million people lost their jobs in the second quarter of this year.
Our economy contracted by 16.4% when compared to the previous quarter.
National Treasury expects a significant shortfall in revenue collection.
This economic shock is unprecedented in our country, and it will take an extraordinary effort to recover from it.
As even the darkest of clouds has a silver lining, we need to see this moment as a rupture with the past and an opportunity to drive fundamental and lasting change.
It is an opportunity not only to recover the ground that we have lost over the course of the pandemic, but to place the economy on a new path to growth.
We are therefore presenting before this joint sitting of Parliament and the country a reconstruction and recovery plan to drive growth that is inclusive and transformative.
The South African Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan builds on the common ground established by the social partners – government, labour, business and community organisations – through intensive and detailed consultations over the last few months.
It is informed by the work of Cabinet’s Economic Cluster working together with government departments and Cabinet itself and draws on the contributions of the leading economists who make up the Presidential Economic Advisory Council.
I wish to applaud the remarkable efforts, particularly from our social partners in NEDLAC, in reaching consensus on the actions required to rebuild our economy, and the firm actions that all social partners have committed to contribute to the country’s recovery.
We know from the examples of several other countries that social compacts are essential to effective and sustainable growth and development.
As we implement this plan, government remains committed to the agreements reached through the NEDLAC process.
The work that we have embarked upon to rebuild our economy after the devastation of coronavirus is guided by the vision to 2030 of the National Development Plan and the programme that was outlined at the beginning of the 6th democratic administration, where we set out the key priorities to drive change and transformation in our country.
The depth of the crisis caused by the pandemic has sharpened our focus and our determination to address the challenges that face us.
The creation of jobs is at the centre of the Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.
We must get our people back into the jobs they lost in the pandemic.
We are determined to create more employment opportunities for those who were unemployed before the pandemic or who had given up looking for work.
This means unleashing the potential of our economy by, among others, implementing necessary reforms, removing regulatory barriers that increase costs and create inefficiencies in the economy, securing our energy supply, and freeing up digital infrastructure.
This plan directly responds to the immediate economic impact of Covid-19 by driving job creation and expanding support for vulnerable households. We aim to do this primarily through a major infrastructure programme and a large-scale employment stimulus, coupled with an intensive localisation drive and industrial expansion.
The interventions outlined in this plan will:
– achieve sufficient, secure and reliable energy supply within two years;
– create and support over 800 000 work opportunities in the immediate term to respond to job losses;
– unlock more than R1 trillion in infrastructure investment over the next 4 years;
– reduce data costs for every South African and expand broadband access to low-income households;
– reverse the decline of the local manufacturing sector and promote reindustrialisation through deeper levels of localisation and exports;
– resuscitate vulnerable sectors such as tourism, which have been hard hit by the pandemic.
According to the modelling done by National Treasury, the implementation of this plan will raise growth to around 3% on average over the next 10 years.
Our recovery will be propelled by swift reforms to unleash the potential of the economy, and supported by an efficient state that is committed to clean governance.
It will be transformative.
It will be inclusive.
It will be digital, green and sustainable, and it will invest in our human capital to lay the foundations for the future.
The economic reconstruction and recovery plan recognises that to support a rapid economic rebound, South Africa needs to focus on a few high-impact interventions and ensure they are executed swiftly and effectively.
The reconstruction and recovery plan has four priority interventions:
Firstly, we are embarking on a massive rollout of infrastructure throughout the country.
Infrastructure has immense potential for stimulate investment and growth, to develop other economic sectors and create sustainable employment both directly and indirectly.
We have developed a robust pipeline of projects that will completely transform the landscape of our cities, towns and rural areas.
By the end of June 2020, we had 276 catalytic projects with an investment value of R2.3 trillion.
Moreover, a list of 50 strategic integrated projects and 12 special projects was gazetted in July 2020.
These catalytic projects have been prioritised for immediate implementation with all regulatory processes fast-tracked – enabling over R340 billion in new investment.
These projects are at various stages of the project life cycle.
Those that are already in construction will see the future phases brought earlier for implementation, including some human settlements projects, which have already received bulk financing to unlock them.
We are exploring the use of credit enhancing instruments to unlock bulk water infrastructure and national roads improvement projects.
Our infrastructure build programme will focus on social infrastructure such as schools, water, sanitation and housing for the benefit of our people.
We will focus on critical network infrastructure such as ports, roads and rail that are key to our economy’s competitiveness.
We have taken steps to remove the constraints that have hampered infrastructure delivery in the past.
To ensure that there is active implementation of our infrastructure built programme, we have established Infrastructure SA and the Infrastructure Fund with the capacity to prepare and package projects.
This approach is already encouraging private investors to help us build capability for infrastructure delivery within the state and to develop blended financing models.
The Infrastructure Fund will provide R100 billion in catalytic finance over the next decade, leveraging as much as R1 trillion in new investment for strategic infrastructure projects.
Several projects are already in construction.
These include human settlements projects such as Matlosana N2 in North West, Lufhereng in Gauteng, Greater Cornubia in KwaZulu-Natal and Vista Park in Free State.
Together these represent an investment value of R44.5 billion.
In total, we have gazetted 18 housing projects to the value of R130 billion, which together will produce more than 190 000 housing units.
Transport projects currently under construction include the N1 Polokwane and N1 Musina with a total value of R1.3 billion.
Within the next six months, we will:
– Embark on the modernisation and refurbishment the commuter rail network, include the Mabopane Line in Tshwane and the Central Line in Cape Town;
– Expand the national rural and municipal road rehabilitation and maintenance programme using labour intensive methods; and
– Fast-track the implementation of gazetted strategic infrastructure projects through the approval of credit enhancing instruments, provision of bulk infrastructure, and speedy processing of water use licenses, environmental impact assessments and township establishment; and
– Adapt the infrastructure procurement framework to enable public-private partnerships and unlock new funding.
Our second priority intervention is to rapidly expand energy generation capacity.
We are accelerating the implementation of the Integrated Resource Plan to provide a substantial increase in the contribution of renewable energy sources, battery storage and gas technology.
This should bring around 11 800 MW of new generation capacity into the system by 2022. More than half of this energy will be generated from renewable sources.
In the immediate term, agreements will be finalised with Independent Power Producers to connect over 2 000 MW of additional capacity from existing projects by June 2021.
The Risk Mitigation Power Procurement Programme will unlock a further 2,000 MW of emergency supply within twelve months.
The process to implement bid window 5 of the renewable energy programme has begun.
We are taking further steps to enable power generation for own-use.
The current regulatory framework will be adapted to facilitate new generation projects while protecting the integrity of the national grid. Applications for own-use generation projects are being urgently fast-tracked.
The work of restructuring Eskom into separate entities for generation, transmission and distribution continues and will enhance competition and ensure the sustainability of independent power producers going forward.
To achieve this, a long-term solution to Eskom’s debt burden will be finalised, building on the Social Compact on Energy Security recently agreed to by social partners.
Through these measures, we aim to achieve sufficient, secure and reliable energy supply within two years.
Our third key intervention is an employment stimulus to create jobs and support livelihoods.
Large-scale job interventions driven by the state and social partners have proven effective in many countries that have faced devastation from wars and other crises.
We have committed R100 billion over the next three years to create jobs through public and social employment as the labour market recovers.
This starts now, with over 800 000 employment opportunities created in the months ahead.
The employment stimulus is focused on those interventions that can be rolled out most quickly and have the greatest impact on economic recovery.
At the heart of the employment stimulus is a new, innovative approach to public employment which harnesses the energies and capabilities of the wider society.
It uses the considerable creativity, initiative and institutional resources that exist in our society to respond to local community priorities.
These activities will be locally driven, allowing participants to earn an income while contributing to their community.
Traditional forms of public employment are being scaled up and new forms of public employment created to meet the immediate need.
We are going to expand our natural resource management programmes such as Working on Fire and Working for Water.
We are going to create 300 000 opportunities for young people to be engaged as education and school assistants at schools throughout the country, to help teachers with basic and routine work so that more time is spent on teaching and enabling learners to catch up from time lost because of Covid.
More than 60 000 jobs will be created for labour-intensive maintenance and construction of municipal infrastructure and rural roads.
To support our healthcare system an additional 6 000 community health workers and nursing assistants will be deployed as we proceed with the implementation of National Health Insurance.
Public employment will be expanded at the provincial and city level, contributing to cleaner, greener and safer public spaces and improved maintenance of facilities.
In all of these programmes, we will ensure that recruitment is fair, open and transparent, and that opportunities are advertised widely.
To assist young people who are unemployed to access these and other opportunities, we will soon launch the national Pathway Management Network as a platform for recruitment and other forms of support.
Finally, the employment stimulus includes direct support for livelihoods and the protection of jobs in vulnerable sectors.
Support is being provided to more than 100 000 early childhood development practitioners and to 75 000 small-scale farmers whose production was disrupted by the pandemic.
Grant-making programmes are being expanded in the creative, cultural and sports sector, and funding has been allocated to protect jobs in cultural institutions such as museums and theatres.
More than 40 000 vulnerable teaching posts are being secured in schools which have lost income from fees.
The implementation of the employment stimulus has already commenced. Each of these work opportunities is fully funded and ready for implementation.
The speed and urgency with which we are expanding employment programmes demonstrates our commitment to support those who are without work.
As these and other recovery measures are being rolled out, we need to do everything in our means to provide support to those in society who continue to face hunger and distress.
We will therefore be extending the Special Covid-19 Grant by a further 3 months.
This will maintain a temporary expansion of social protection and allow the labour market sufficient time to recover.
Our fourth key intervention is a drive for industrial growth.
This is in the context of a steady decline of our manufacturing base over many years.
To place our economy on a new trajectory, we are going to support a massive growth in local production and make South African exports much more competitive.
We will build on the work that was being done in several areas before the pandemic struck.
Through the first two South African Investment Conferences, we managed to secure pledges of around R664 billion in new investment.
To date, just under R170 billion of capital expenditure committed during those investment conferences has been invested in projects for construction and buying equipment is essential to mining, manufacturing, telecommunications and agriculture.
Last year, South Africa recorded its first trade surplus with the European Union, driven by record exports of manufactured goods.
Our country produced and exported more motor vehicles last year than in any previous year.
Our agricultural sector has continued to grow, with a bumper maize harvest and the expansion of many high-value crops.
We have positioned South Africa as one of the most attractive destinations in the world for global business services.
Despite the weaknesses in our economy, despite the devastation caused by the coronavirus, these are some of the strengths on which we can build.
There are huge opportunities that we can seize through effective partnerships, targeted deployment of resources and the right policies.
South Africa currently imports around R1.1 trillion of goods, excluding oil, each year.
If we were to manufacture just 10% of these goods locally, it is estimated that we could add 2 percentage points to our annual GDP.
The rest of Africa currently imports R2.9 trillion worth of manufactured goods from outside the continent each year.
If South Africa were to supply just 2% of those goods, it would add 1.2 percentage points to our annual GDP.
And if we succeed in reaching our target of R1.2 trillion in new investment by 2023, it could add around 2.5% to our annual GDP.
It is to realise this huge potential that the social partners have agreed to prioritise a range of consumer and industrial products for local procurement.
Together with business and labour, we will soon be publishing localisation targets for goods in areas like agro-processing, health care, basic consumer goods, industrial equipment, construction materials and transport rolling stock.
We will enforce government policies to ensure that all public infrastructure projects use locally-made materials, including steel products, cement, bricks and other components.
We will support the efforts by organised business, we are planning to establish supplier development programmes for large companies and in key sectors.
We welcome the commitment by trade unions to ensure their investment companies increasingly invest in companies that buy from local manufacturers.
The NEDLAC agreement commits all companies and government entities to publicly disclose in their annual reports the value of procurement from local producers and on steps to be taken to improve localisation.
The social partners have also agreed to support a massive ‘buy local’ campaign for this festive season, with a particular call to support women-owned enterprises, small businesses and township enterprises.
We call on every South African to contribute to our recovery effort by choosing to buy local goods and support local businesses.
This is one way that each and every one of us can contribute to building a new economy.
A vital part of growing our industrialisation effort are the sectoral masterplans, which bring all partners together to agree on specific measures to improve productivity, investment and competitiveness.
There are currently masterplans in the automotive, clothing and textile, poultry and sugar sectors.
We are now working to finalise masterplans in the digital economy, forestry, agriculture and agro-processing, creative industries, aerospace and defence, renewable energy, steel and metal fabrication and furniture.
A central pillar of this work is the transformation of our economy, creating space for new black and women entrants and take deliberate steps to change ownership and production patterns.
In promoting localisation and industrialisation, we will be focusing in particular on the development of small, medium and micro enterprises.
This will take place alongside the development of rural and township economies,
There are between 2.4 million and 3.5 million SMMEs in the country, with the largest number in the informal and micro sectors.
They offer the greatest untapped potential for growth, employment and fundamental economic transformation.
Through a focused support programme, we will support SMME participation in the manufacturing value chain.
This will include the targeting specific products for manufacture by SMMEs for both the domestic market and for export.
It will also include the provision of business infrastructure support, financial assistance through loans and blended funding, facilitating routes to market, and assistance with technical skills, product certification, testing and quality assurance.
Economic growth cannot be realised without the inclusion and active participation of women.
Among the other measures we have outlined, we will be working with women-empowered companies to progressively reach our target of directing at least 40% of procurement spend to such enterprises.
This is also a vital part of our programme to end gender-based violence and femicide, which is fuelled by gender inequality, particularly economic disparities between men and women and gender-non conforming persons.
In addition to these priority interventions, we will create enabling conditions for a competitive, inclusive and fast-growing economy.
We are fast-tracking reforms to reduce the cost of doing business and lower barriers to entry.
The current timeframes for mining, prospecting, water and environmental licenses will be reduced by at least 50% to facilitate new investment.
The Petroleum Resources Development Bill will be finalised to unlock our country’s enormous untapped potential in upstream oil and gas reserves.
Although international tourist travel is likely only to recover in the medium term, our efforts are now focused on implementing an efficient e-visa system and extending visa waivers to new tourism markets.
To support tourism over this peak tourism season, we will shortly be publishing an expanded list of countries from where resumption of international travel will be permitted, which will be supported by targeted marketing in partnership with the private sector.
We urge South African to continue to explore their country in support of the tourism recovery as one of the hard hit sectors by the Covid-19 pandemic.
We will shortly publish the revised list of critical skills, occupations in high demand and priority occupations to enable highly skilled individuals to be speedily recruited, and expedite the issuing of special skills visas to support local firms.
We are promoting greater private sector participation in rail, including through granting third-party access to the core rail network and the revitalisation of branch lines.
We will establish a single economic regulator in transport as a matter of urgency to promote competition and efficiency.
Work is underway to improve the efficiency and capacity of the ports of Durban, East London, Ngqura and Cape Town.
The release of high-frequency spectrum by March 2021 and the completion of digital migration will reduce data costs for firms and households.
This process is being managed by ICASA and will promote transformation, reduce costs and increase access.
We are developing innovative new models to provide low-income households with access to affordable, high-speed internet through connection subsidies for broadband and support for public WiFi hotspots.
Decisive action against crime and corruption is essential to inclusive growth.
Criminal elements in our country have taken to the illegal occupation of construction sites and soliciting protection money from businesses.
To combat these practices, a Joint Rapid Response Team at a national and provincial level will respond to the problem of violent disruptions at construction sites and other business activities.
A well-functioning revenue service is central to our economic recovery programme.
The turnaround at the South African Revenue Service has begun in earnest, and significant areas of tax evasion and tax fraud have already been identified.
SARS is rebuilding its capacity to reverse the decline, improve compliance and recover lost tax revenue.
We are working to clamp down on the illegal economy and illicit financial flows, including transfer pricing abuse, profit shifting, VAT and customs duty fraud, under-invoicing of manufactured imports, corruption and other illegal schemes.
The decisive action we have taken to prevent, detect and act against Covid-19-related corruption will strengthen the broader fight against crime.
The Special Investigating Unit has made significant progress in probing allegations of criminal conduct in all public entities during the national state of disaster.
The work of the SIU continues and the outcomes of the investigations will be made public once all the due process have been completed.
Law enforcement agencies are being strengthened and provided with adequate resources to enable the identification and swift prosecution of corruption and fraud.
We wish to assure all South African that there will be no political interference with the work of law enforcement agencies.
We will strengthen the framework to ensure that political office-bearers at all spheres of government do not do business with the state and we welcome the agreement at NEDLAC that all social partners will act decisively against corruption and fraud in their ranks.
The Public Procurement Bill will be fast-tracked and transversal contracts put in place for large-volume items.
We will soon finalise and begin implementation of the new National Anti-Corruption Strategy, which will improve transparency, monitoring and accountability in government and across society.
Through these actions, we will ensure that every Rand of public expenditure is spent productively to benefit our people and support our recovery effort.
All of these actions will be taken within a supportive macroeconomic framework, which balances the need to restore fiscal sustainability with economic growth.
A critical pillar of this plan is the fiscal framework that will be outlined by the Minister of Finance in the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement.
Among other things, this framework will provide a path of fiscal consolidation, debt reduction and reprioritisation that is supportive of growth and recovery.
We cannot sustain the current levels of debt, particularly as increasing borrowing costs are diverting resources that should be going to economic and social development.
That is why we are urgently implementing the economic reforms that we have agreed with our social partners at NEDLAC to unlock investment, stimulate economic activity and generate revenue for the fiscus.
In reducing government expenditure, we are ensuring that funds are reprioritised towards poverty alleviation, infrastructure investment, support for economic development and fighting crime and corruption.
We are also reducing the reliance of SOEs on the fiscus by intensifying efforts to stabilise strategic companies, accelerating the rationalisation of SOEs and, where appropriate, identifying strategic partners.
It is clear that implementation is going to be the key in giving effect to this recovery and reconstruction plan.
This requires a more effective and efficient state, with greater coordination and integration between national, provincial and local government.
Through the District Development Model, we are beginning to see progress in the alignment of the work of the different spheres.
To ensure focused and urgent implementation of the Plan, dedicated capacity is being created in the Presidency to drive progress and support departments and agencies in the implementation of their mandate.
To fast-track the delivery of economic reforms, Operation Vulindlela will be implemented as a joint initiative of the Presidency and National Treasury reporting directly to the President on a regular basis.
It will work closely with Cabinet’s Economic Cluster to ensure that the priority interventions and key enabling reforms are implemented rapidly and effectively and that those responsible for their implementation are held accountable.
A National Economic Recovery Council comprising relevant members of Cabinet will provide political oversight and enable rapid decision-making.
The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation remains the backbone of government reporting on the five-year Medium Term Strategic Framework.
This will take place alongside the implementation arrangements which have been agreed among the social partners at NEDLAC.
We will be releasing the Nedlac Social Partner Economic Recovery Action Plan and the Social Compact for Energy Security. These contain very significant measures that we will be working with social partners to implement.
A Presidential Working Committee, chaired by the President, will meet regularly to receive reports from each social partner on the extent to which it has implemented its commitments.
It will be supported by an Economic Recovery Leadership Team and working groups on particular areas of the recovery action plan.
Fellow South Africans,
In the aftermath of a fire, green shoots begin to emerge.
The ashes enrich the soil, and new life takes root to replace what was lost.
Our country is emerging from one of the most difficult periods in living memory.
South Africans have suffered and have made great sacrifices, sharing in this hardship with people all over the world.
But as South Africans, we have a deep reservoir of resilience to draw upon.
We have endured much, and have always emerged stronger and more united.
We stand together at a crucial turning point in the history of our country.
Our ability to reignite our economy rests on the decisions we take in this moment, and the urgency with which we address this crisis.
We shall not rest until we have fulfilled the potential of our country.
We shall not rest until we have built a new economy based on fairness, justice and equality.
This is the task of our generation: to renew, to repair, to rebuild.
We dare not take a moment to pause.
Together, we will build a new economy.
The time is now. Ke nako.
I thank you.View more