SPEECH BY WESTERN CAPE PREMIER, MARTHINUS VAN SCHALKWYK, WELCOMING DELEGATES AND OFFICIALLY OPENING THE WESTERN CAPE PROVINCIAL GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT, VIA SATELLITE LINK FROM AMSTERDAM, 14 NOVEMBER 2003
Growth and Development in the Western Cape: Negotiating a Social Accord
Good morning to you from a bitterly cold Amsterdam where I am this morning visiting our Partner Convention Centre. It is both my great pleasure and honour to welcome you all to our Western Cape Provincial Growth and Development Summit.
Let no-one doubt the importance of this event. Far more than a conference or a workshop, this summit may well be the birthplace of a new social accord.
Today we bring together the four pillars of strength in the Western Cape - business, civil society, labour and government - all representing our greatest provincial asset - our people. Today we create a lasting legacy of growth and development for all our people - together.
Namhlanje sizisondeza ndawonye iintsika ezine ezimandla eNtshona Koloni - ushishino, uluntu ngokubanzi, abasebenzi kunye norhulumente - onke la maqela ingamaqela eli phondo - amele bonke abantu bethu. Namhlanje ke senza ilifa lanaphakade lentlumo nophuhliso, sisenzela bonke abantu - sikunye.
Western Cape - Global Force:
On Wednesday I met with investors and international tourism role-players in London. Last night I addressed 120 business leaders in Rotterdam with a keen interest in the Western Cape as part of the Netherlands/SA Week. This afternoon I will meet with the Swiss-SA Business Chamber in Zurich and on Monday our Western Cape Minister for Health and senior officials will join me in holding bilaterals with the Global Fund for Aids who are in the final process of approving more than R465 million for the fight against HIV/Aids in the Western Cape.
The message from international business leaders to me and to our Provincial Government is clear. They believe there are 2 critical requirements to attract investment and growth. These are:
Firstly, stability - that is political, social and economic stability; and
Secondly, predictability in macro-economic and other government policies.
Sonder dat hulle daarvan bewus is, het hierdie sakemanne en -vroue ons Provinsiale Spitsberaad vir Groei en Ontwikkeling van 'n gepaste vertrekpunt voorsien: die mees basiese verwagtinge van die wêreldwye beleggersgemeenskap.
My boodskap aan hulle was ewe duidelik: dat die Wes-Kaap oop is vir besigheid en dat ons besef dat ekonomiese isolasie doodeenvoudig nie 'n opsie is nie. Die grondbeginsels is in plek en ons weet dat 'n ekonomie gebaseer op vrye ondernemerskap met 'n sterk maatskaplike gewete die beste manier is om die voordele van globalisering te ontsluit.
My message to them was that there is political stability in the Western Cape - a long-term coalition Government, committed to promoting economic growth, global competitiveness and sustained job creation.
We don't ask them to invest in the Western Cape out of any moral obligation - we invite them to invest in our province and our people because it makes excellent business sense to do so.
Speaking to Our Partners:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Minister Rasool and our other Ministers whose personal commitment to iKapa eliHlumayo has been the driving force behind this summit. Our thanks must also go to all our Departments and everyone else involved in making the Provincial Growth and Development Summit a reality.
It would be both wrong and futile for Government to try to dictate roles and responsibilities to our social partners - identifying those roles and firming up specific commitments will play a large part in the discussions today. There are though, certain expectations about what strengths each partner brings to the table:
Our business community brings newly forged business unity, with great material and human resources. You bring economic growth and existing social responsibility programmes - with room for even greater expansion. You bring opportunities for learnerships, mentorships and valuable skills transfer.
Our civil society brings to the table a wealth of community understanding. You offer unmatched insights into priority areas of need. You provide critical help with social upliftment, and you bring great value to skills development.
Our partners in labour offer their productivity and skills. You also add greatly to our efforts to educate and mobilise our communities to empower themselves. You bring to the table a keen sense of economic justice and our most promising channels for raising productivity and our provincial work ethic.
Our Vision for Government:
Wat dan van die Regering? Watter rol en verantwoordelikheid moet die Provinsie aanvaar in die strategie vir groei en ontwikkeling? In die Wes-Kaap verstaan ons dat die regering nooit in isolasie volhoubare groei en werkgeleenthede kan skep nie. Daarom is ons daartoe verbind om die bes moontlike omgewing te skep waarin ekonomiese groei kan gedy. Aangesien ons 'n mensgesentreerde regering is, begryp ons dat dit nie groei sonder werkskepping mag wees nie.
Our agenda for Government is clear:
Firstly we will continue to build on the foundations of the NNP/ANC coalition. The unprecedented levels of cooperation and coordination between local, provincial and national Government make it possible to put into place 10 and 15 year plans that in the past were not sustainable. Together we are geared to push back crime, roll out social safety nets to the poor, and fight HIV/Aids.
Secondly we will breathe life into iKapa eliHlumayo - the Growing and Developing Cape - as the best economic policy vehicle to achieve our growth potential and to create jobs. The iKapa eliHlumayo strategy will speed up development by maximising growth in those sectors where we are globally competitive, supporting mature growth sectors, and preventing job losses in sectors in distress. We also understand that whilst growing the economy we must also expand the ownership base to those previously excluded, and we are geared to do this through transformation in tourism, land reform and aggressive SMME development.
Thirdly we will continue to prioritise education and skills training to meet the demands in our most important growth sectors, to expand the skills base, and to narrow the skills gap.
Carrying Forward the Social Accord:
Ladies and Gentlemen, this Summit will succeed only through honest, open and constructive dialogue between business, civil society, labour and government. Our Provincial Government is committed though to continue this dialogue well beyond the time-frames of this meeting * and we believe that the best way to do so is by transforming the existing Provincial Development Council into a real forum for social dialogue between government and our partners.
A joint task team is in the process of finalising the mandates, functions and composition of this new public body - to create a solid table with four sides, around which we will reflect on the best ways to achieve our aims for the Western Cape and to take forward the accord to be signed at this summit.
During this summit there will be much discussion about economic trends, the skills gap, sectoral growth strategies and financial statistics. As important as these issues are, I urge you to remember this - our common goal is not more talk, it is action. This summit must bring real results, concrete targets and lasting commitments from all sides to the table.
When we talk about problems like unemployment it takes us nowhere to discuss them in abstract terms - getting stuck in technical debates about narrow or wide definitions of unemployment and whether the current rate is 18,6% or 25,5%. What should, at all times inform our discussion is that there are at least 500 000 men and women in our province without work. 500 000 men and women who are unsure of their next meal, or how to sustain their families. 500 000 men and women who hunger for human dignity - with the energy and the ability to work, but without the opportunity to prosper.
So when we have a chance to speak today I urge you to pause first - and bring to your mind these 500 000 real people, real families, deserving real results.
I thank you for your participation in this event and I wish you every success in your deliberations.
Enquiries: Riaan Aucamp
Cell: 083 778 9923
Issued by: Western Cape Provincial Government
14 November 2003-11-14