Address by President Jacob Zuma to Wesgro, the Investment and Trade Promotion Agency of the Western Cape, Cape Town
23 Nov 2011Ms Patricia de Lille, Executive Mayor of Cape Town,
Mr Ben Kodisang, Chairman of the Board of Wesgro and members of the Wesgro Board, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and gentlemen
Thank you for inviting me to share this occasion with you today. As government and business we are partners in growing the economy to create a better life for our people. Such interactions are therefore important to enable us to take this joint responsibility forward.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In a few days, South Africa will build on its experience of hosting major international events. We will soon receive thousands of delegates to the United Nations climate change conference, COP17, which also serves as the seventh meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol.
We pride ourselves on our ability to host events of such magnitude, as it provides a massive marketing opportunity for the country. Scores of international journalists will cover the event, enabling us to reach many people around the world. You will recall that just a few months ago, we successfully hosted the International Olympic Committee General Assembly Session in Durban.
And of course, we have fond memories of the highly successful 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup tournament, which brought South Africans together, united under the goal of making our country succeed.
As we prepare for the arrival of so many people in our country again, we are called upon to rise to the occasion and ensure that South Africa emerges as the winner of the Durban conference.
Nations around the world compete fiercely to host events of the magnitude that we have hosted, because they know the value of the exposure. Our success reminds us that we need to count our achievements, so that we can build and improve on them.
And indeed we have achieved a lot in just a few years. Together we have built a stable, functional democracy and government system. We have three arms of the state, the executive, judiciary and parliament, which work well together as independent partners, promoting the interests of our country and consolidating our democracy.
We have three spheres of government that work together in a cooperative governance framework, promoting development and prosperity at three levels.
There are Chapter 9 institutions which are an important feature of our democracy. These include the Electoral Commission, the Office of the Public Protector, the Office of the Auditor-General and the South African Human Rights Commission.
These institutions have a good track record in protecting the interests and rights of South Africans. I am reminding you of these achievements because as businesspeople, you need to work in an environment where there is stability.
Your country provides that element and much more. Stability also arises from the fact that we hold elections every five years and South Africans choose the government of their choice at national, provincial and local government levels.
We have been invited to participate in major world forums such as the G20 and BRICS, because South Africa's achievements and potential are noticeable. Granted, challenges still remain. The most critical ones facing us are that of poverty, inequality and unemployment. People want jobs. They want quality education and health care. Those living in rural areas want to live in communities that have decent roads, transport, housing, electricity and water like those in the cities.
Many of our people also seek opportunities to create small businesses to earn a living. And they look up to government to assist them in this regard. As you are aware, Governments do not create jobs. They create the right environment to enable the private sector to grow businesses and create jobs.
To boost economic growth so that we can be able to create jobs, we launched a new Growth Path last year and an Industrial Policy Action Plan the year before. In our New Growth Path framework, we promote investments and growth in six areas. These are infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and beneficiation, manufacturing, the green economy and tourism.
Ministers in the economic cluster at the national government level would be able to discuss these opportunities further with you in greater detail. I am happy that we are meeting in the beautiful city of Cape Town which is one of our key selling points with regards to tourism promotion.
Our tourism sector, which is a key job creator, is doing very well nationally. While we have consolidated our penetration of traditional markets such as Europe, we are also growing in new markets such as China, Brazil, India and in our continent.
However, as you are aware, we are working under a difficult climate of a global economic slowdown. The demand for South African products in the markets of our traditional trading partners, the United States and the Eurozone has manifested a sharp decline. We will however continue strengthening our ties with the developed North despite the current economic turbulence.
At the same time, we are taking advantage of opportunities in the developing world - particularly China, India, Latin America and Africa.
A key highlight this year was South Africa's inaugural participation at the third BRICS Leaders Meeting held in April in China. Subsequent to that meeting, China requested South Africa to compile a list of top 10 products that could be considered by China for preferential access to its market.
The Department of Trade and Industry has identified the products as the following: Agro-processing such as wines, cereals, fruit especially oranges, grapes, apples and pears and fish. Chemicals Plastics, Stainless steel Aluminium, Automotive products, Mining safety equipment, Industrial pumps, Power transmission related products Paper and pulp.
Furthermore, we are proposing that the Chinese side should include South Africa on its procurement book and encourage more focused procurement missions to South Africa from China. The economic interaction between the two countries is going well.
As we speak, 72 South African companies are at the South African Expo in Beijing and Shanghai, comprising 60 export companies and 12 investment companies. Let me remind you that when we declared 2011 the year of job creation we meant that this should happen throughout the country and we stand ready to provide support as national government.
There are some sectors that we believe offer a lot of potential for growth and job creation in the Western Cape. These include agriculture and fisheries, the oil and gas services sector, manufacturing especially textiles as well as tourism.
In this regard, we urge Wesgro to work closely with the National Government to identify and secure investment opportunities for the Western Cape province in the emerging markets such as China and also from the domestic sector.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Indeed our country offers many opportunities. Any challenges that remain are being attended to. Quietly and steadily, progress is being made in building the South Africa we all dream of living in. Another advantage about South Africa is that we are not shy to identify our shortcomings. And we already are correcting many.
You will recall that only last week we launched the draft National Development Plan, produced by the National Planning Commission. The NPC confirmed the key challenges facing our country. These are unemployment, the poor quality of education especially for black children, poor health status of most South Africans, which is compounded by a failing public health system, weak infrastructure and a weak and poorly performing state, which also face a problem of corruption.
Our establishment of the National Planning Commission and the Performance Evaluation and Monitoring functions in the Presidency were designed to help us improve the functioning of the State so that it can better deliver services to our people.
Improving the quality of life cannot be done successfully by government alone. We are therefore happy with the cooperation that is strengthening between business, government and labour, which has been a strong feature of this year.
Allow me in conclusion to remind you that we must never lose sight of the achievements we have scored working together as South Africans.
We should build on these achievements together, to create a truly non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
I thank you once again for the invitation to come and meet with you today. I wish you all the best in all your efforts to create wealth, grow the economy and create employment for our people in the Western Cape.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency
23 Nov 2011
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