Govt can make it possible for businesses to create jobs – Mmusi Maimane

DA leader says at the moment, only empty promises are being made

Only one party knows what it takes to create jobs, and that’s the DA

25 January 2019

Fellow South Africans,

Of the many issues plaguing South Africa and halting our progress towards a fair and prosperous future, one stands out above all: Jobs.

We won’t make any headway as a society unless we can find a way of putting a lot more people into sustainable jobs, and soon. Almost everything else will be solvable if we start winning the battle against our runaway unemployment.

The first step in this battle is recognising how jobs are created, and what the role of any government should be in doing so. Governments cannot be the primary source of jobs. They cannot provide enough of them and they cannot create them. Parties that promise to do this are lying to you.

But what governments can do is make it possible for businesses to create jobs. And once they realise that this is their role, we can start to talk about realistic jobs targets. Until then, it’s all just empty promises.

I have been traveling around the country telling people what a DA government would do for them when it comes to job creation – how we will work hard to attract investors and make it easier for businesses to start up and survive. And what I have seen here in the Northern Cape, and Kimberley in particular, is a lesson in precisely what not to do.

This is a province that is fast losing the war against unemployment, and it is not hard to see why. The ANC government in the Northern Cape has absolutely no interest in serving and supporting the businesses that must create jobs.

All businesses want the same things in order keep their doors open. They want to know they can depend on a reliable, affordable supply of electricity. They want a steady, affordable supply of water. They want infrastructure such as transport and broadband, they want their business to be safe and they want their rights – including property rights – to be protected.

They also want to know that policies and legislation won’t change, so that they can plan ahead. And they want to be freed up from unnecessary admin and compliance – the so-called red tape that trips up so many small business owners.

If a government can ensure these things, then businesses will flourish there. Investors will feel welcome and safe, entrepreneurs will feel supported and the jobs will come. But if a government can’t provide this certainty, security and service, then businesses will simply go elsewhere.

Just this morning I visited the premises of a company called Beefmaster – an abattoir here in Kimberley. They have reached a point where they want to take their entire business up to Johannesburg, because keeping it here in Kimberley is simply too hard, too costly and, above all, too unpredictable given the constant electricity interruptions. In their line of business, an uninterrupted supply of electricity is absolutely vital.

If government here can’t get the basics right, businesses like Beefmaster will pack up and leave. And if they do, 400 employees will immediately lose their jobs and at least 2000 dependents will lose a household income.

That’s what the wrong government does to communities like this. And Beefmaster is not a lone example. Recent research into business here in the Northern Cape found that small and medium enterprise owners in the province decreased from almost 28,000 in 2016 to under 15,000 in 2017. That’s a drop of almost half in one year – a sure sign that the ANC is killing all hope of growing jobs here.

Today, the Northern Cape has the highest rate of unemployed 15 to 24 year-olds in the entire country. Over 40% of all working age men and women in this province can’t find work. That’s a shameful failure by this ANC government.

The Northern Cape cannot simply be a place where dreams die. Where young people have to flee to survive. Where businesses have to leave in order to keep their doors open. It doesn’t have to be like that. But for this to change, its government will have to change.

But, you might ask, doesn’t every party make bold promises about jobs? Why should the DA’s offer be seen any differently? And to this I say: Don’t judge the DA on its promises, judge it by its track record. Something no other party can say.

In the DA-run Western Cape, where we have been in government for 10 years now, the results speak for themselves. The province has, by far, the lowest unemployment rate in the country. And, importantly, it has by far the lowest number of “discouraged jobseekers” – people who have given up hope and therefore given up looking for work.

Of all the jobs created in South Africa over the past year, half came from the Western Cape alone – a province with just one eighth of the country’s population. And the reason for this is simple: We know what it takes for businesses to start up and stay open, and we make it our top priority to help them do so. Whoever creates jobs has our full support.

You see, we believe in a South Africa, in the very near future, where our people – and particularly our young people – have hope once more. We have a vision of cities and towns where opportunity has replaced despair, and where more and more people are able to get onto the jobs ladder.

This future South Africa we see is one where the walls between the economic insiders and outsiders are smashed down. It is a South Africa where we make sure all our children leave school with an education that’s worth something, and then step into the world of work with something to offer.

It is a South Africa geared for the future, not obsessed with the past. One South Africa for all, led by a clean and honest DA government.

And that is the South Africa you need to vote for in May.

Thank you.

Issued by Mmusi Maimane, Leader of the Democratic Alliance, 25 January 2019