Radical township transformation

Billions will be spent on creating, maintaining and upgrading Gauteng township enterprises

Billions will be spent on creating, maintaining and upgrading Gauteng township enterprises

Township economy revitalisation is at the heart of the province’s commitment to radical economic transformation.

Premier David Makhuta has repeatedly stressed that “Townships can no longer be sites for the reproduction of cheap labour and for trading of goods and services that township communities do not produce. Every rand generated from a township economy through productive and light manufacturing activity should circulate within the township economy and benefit township residents.

“Our consultations with more than 50 000 township enterprises from 65 townships have produced a strategy through which we will create an enabling and supportive environment for existing and future township enterprises to grow and flourish and the township economy is now firmly part of our national economic policy.”

Provincial government has already committed more than R160-million to the township economy and in the 2015/16 financial year, allocated more than R300-million to support township enterprises and cooperatives. Municipalities are also making substantial investments focusing on township enterprise hubs, with the City of Johannesburg setting aside R3-billion, Tshwane R22-million and Ekurhuleni has made available more than R150-million.

In his address, Makhura was roundly applauded when he said that some government vehicles will be repaired by township-based enterprises at selected repair hubs supported by its Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC), as well as his statement that the province intends working with the Cooperatives Banks Development Agency to facilitate the establishment of cooperative banks that are owned by communities — including burial societies and stokvels, as part of promoting financial inclusion and broadening access to credit by township enterprises and communities.

The province will also work with township enterprises to engage in the production of goods such as paper towels, plastic, furniture, tombstones, bricks, upholstery, hydroponics, paint, condoms and baked goods.

Township hubs

“The provincial government currently spends at least 5% of its R10-billion procurement budget for goods and services on township enterprises,” said Makhura. “We have now committed to set aside 30% of public procurement budget for township enterprises over the next five years.

“We will strengthen three existing township economic hubs in Mohlakeng, Winterveld and Tembisa in the coming months and seven new township hubs will be established in Ennerdale, Hammanskraal, Mabopane and Reiger Park. We will also revitalise the industrial parks in Katlehong, Orlando, Residentia, Khutsong and Ennerdale.”

Makhura said the province is prioritising the development of agri-parks on the periphery of urban settlements where young people will be given opportunities to farm. To reduce poverty, hunger and food insecurity, urban agriculture is set for expansion, including community farming cooperatives and school food gardens to ensure communities have the capacity to produce their own food.

Special mention was made of the automotive industry, which has made significant strides in introducing township entrepreneurs to the automotive sector and Makhura said how encouraged the province is by the level of support shown by other corporate entities on township economy revitalisation and mainstreaming.

In its fight against poverty, the province continues to play a pro-active role in linking beneficiaries to employment opportunities and other economic activities, with the intention of creating one million work opportunities by 2019 with specific focus on women, youth and people with disabilities.

Makhura also raised the issue of violence against foreign nationals and asked that communities embrace all those who call South Africa and Gauteng in particular, their home. 

“As government we will work together with civil society to promote our vision of a more caring society which raises our common humanity, promotes mutual respect and support and protects the most vulnerable.”

Cleaner cities

While making people pay for plastic bags has helped curb the eyesore that became referred to as “the South African national flower”, Premier David Makhura intends taking it further.

“All our development corridors must promote the creation of liveable cities,” he said. “We will intensify the Bontle ke Botho campaign, through which we will ensure clean cities and towns, and will mobilise communities to work with us to contribute to the cleaning of streets and the greening of parks and all spaces within the Gauteng City Region. 

“Furthermore, we will introduce blue economy initiatives, which will entail intense recycling and re-use of waste to protect the environment. Our cities are currently too dirty. We need to go back to basics as we build new cities.”

* The Blue Economy is a book by Gunter Pauli (Paradigm Publications, 2010) that, according to Wikipedia, “suggests that we can alter the way in which we run our industrial processes and tackle resultant environmental problems, refocusing from the use of rare and high-energy cost resources to instead seek solutions based upon simpler and cleaner technologies”.