Posted: April 5, 2010
Budget Vote 35 Address in the National Assembly by Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Bongi Maria Ntuli MP Old Assembly Chamber, Parliament
Minister Rob Davies
Honourable Members of the National Assembly
Ladies and Gentlemen
Honourable Chairperson, at the Seventh Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in 2009 Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank said, “The responsibility of the State is to create opportunities for people, support them, so that they can stand up for themselves’. I have every reason to agree with Professor Yunus and this is why.
On Friday past together with the Minister of Home Affairs, Minister Dlamini-Zuma, I was in Kokstad in the Eastern Cape. I had the privilege of visiting a bakery run from a container by five enthusiastic young men. Led by Thembelani this group is called the Sakhakulunge Co-op Bakery.
An opportunity was created for them by the Greater Kokstad Municipality, the container was equipped but the energy and the passion to run the operation had to come from the group. The leader of the group explained, that if it was not for this opportunity, all of them may have found themselves as repeat offenders with lengthy jail terms. Ladies and gentlemen, initiatives such as these need further support from government. The challenge facing this Co-op is what many other similar micro enterprises face. The challenge of increasing market share, the challenge of increasing capacity and the challenge of making this a sustainable enterprise.
None of the Co-op members expressed the wish that this business should make them millionaires, they wanted to use the business as a vehicle to provide their families with an education and improve their own skills, provide a healthy product, prevent other young people from doing crime by being gainfully employed, contribute to the development of this rural area and be economically active.
Ladies and gentlemen, these five young people have expressed more eloquently than any policy could, the five priorities, identified as national priorities, by our government and in our ruling party’s elections manifesto.
Chairperson, in our pursuit not only to meet but exceed the expectations of the five priorities of government, our department has looked at methods that together with our colleagues at Provincial and to an extent local level, we can initiate during this financial year. I have also had discussions with various people from academic institutions to the private sector who are offering to assist us in meeting our developmental goals. Last year I reported a process initiated by my office to meet all the Provincial MEC’s of Economic development in order to see if we could co-ordinate our work better.
This I am pleased to report has been done and I wish to thank all the MECs for the extremely warm and collegial manner in which these meetings took place. While the nine Provinces differ in many areas, there were common points raised across the board. Tomorrow I have been asked by the Portfolio Committee to give Honourable Members a full briefing on my findings and what we will do. Here are some comments related to these visits. Honourable Chairperson, the main issue raised was the lack of a cohesive and efficient communication system amongst the three spheres of government resulting in national government not always knowing what the provinces are doing and vice versa.
Through great effort of the Empowerment and Enterprise Development Division (EEDD) and the various provincial heads of departments, a forum has been established to map the way forward. This forum had it’s meeting and pilot projects have been identified that the dti together with Provincial departments will initiate and launch during this financial year. From the side of the dti we have assigned a ‘Provincial Champion’ to spearhead projects in each province.
We are particularly but not exclusively focusing on projects that will revive industries in the former ‘homeland’ areas. Together with our provincial counterparts we have identified a number of buildings that belong to the former development agencies that has fallen into disuse.
Ladies and gentlemen we acknowledge that resources are limited and we need to seek partnerships if we truly want to transform the economic landscape of our country. We have therefore looked at partnerships as mentioned earlier, we have also looked at other institutions that also operate in the fields of enterprise development, Cooperatives and finance for small enterprises.
Ladies and gentleman I started with the story of the bakery co-operative, I said that they still have some challenges. They have received a ‘hand-up’ from the local municipality. What stops us as the dti, pooling our resources with the Province and other agencies and even the private sector to assist Co-ops such as these and others who need often minimal assistance to flourish like for example bridging funds to expand.
When driving through the town I saw at least two supermarkets and a few schools as well as a prison that could support this bakery. We have to get out there and assist, not from the comfort of our offices, we have to go to the actual areas where our communities are, maybe then we will appreciate the fact that we have to work with a greater sense of urgency. Let’s do good!
Chairperson on Co-operatives, for this year we are speeding up our efforts to initiate the formation of an advisory body for Co-operatives. I must be honest and mention that this has not been an easy task because not everyone shared a common perspective on the way forward. We will convene an inclusive meeting to continue with our efforts and harness the collective wisdom of all parties to see this body to fruition. I know I have the absolute support of Minister Davies for this effort.
As a believer, it is my conviction that the development of our people, no matter how daunting the task may be, can be realized. I believe that our country has the potential we need to eradicate poverty. All we need is a leadership that is ready and capable and equal to the task to respond to the aspirations of the people. We can create a world class economy working together with everyone willing to do this.
In addressing the noted challenges, our government has formulated the national cooperative strategy that outlines various interventions aimed at enhancing the support programmes and institutional capacity geared towards the development of cooperatives. Moreover, government has taken the decision to review and amend the current cooperative legislation. In this regard, our government intends to remove constraints and close the legislative gaps affecting cooperative development by amending the Cooperative Act, No.14 of 2005.
To name just a few of those areas being amended, these include auditing requirements for cooperatives, and voting rights of cooperatives. The amended legislation will also try to consolidate and strengthen structures in all tiers of government that are involved in cooperatives development to ensure proper coordination, systematic support and proper accountability. This process has already commenced with stakeholder consultation at all levels. Experience and research has shown that the biggest challenge confronting cooperatives is in the area of education and training. In this regard, government through its strategy and legislation intends to establish a National Cooperative Academy dedicated to provide education and training to cooperatives.
It will give technical training, management and skills training, cooperative compliance training and will also accredit independent providers of cooperative education and training. We will ask the assistance of Minister Blade Nzimande in utilizing the Sectoral Education and Training Authorities or SETAs’ in this regard.
We are also working together with provinces to facilitate access to international and local markets for cooperatives by utilising and accessing the EMIA support for cooperatives. Last year alone, we managed to send 11 cooperatives to the Milan exhibition, 8 arts and craft co-operatives to Portugal Handicraft exhibition, and 4 cooperatives to the Decorex exhibition that took place in Johannesburg. We intend to double these figures in this financial year. We also need to give not only more people this opportunity but different people the opportunity. On the funding aspect, we are working closely with provinces to increase access to finance for cooperatives. The establishment of the National Cooperative Development Agency will play a major role in this regard. Last year, we managed to disbursed R35 million (rand) supporting 180 cooperatives projects. 44 projects in KZN, 48 in the Eastern Cape, 29 in Gauteng, 16 in Limpopo and 15 in the Western Cape and another 15 in the Northern Cape with the remaining covered by the Provincial departments.
We have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Proudly SA in order to provide an additional platform for communications on co-operatives as well as facilitate market access to co-operatives by extending them the Proudly SA procurement facility for utilisation to market their products and services to the market. Honourable Members, as a popular song goes, “We must make the circle bigger”, we have to broaden economic participation. We have a generation of young people out of work. We have numbers of women who are in informal business who if not provided with opportunities will never enter the economic mainstream.
I am inviting young people and women to come to the fore, I am also appealing to Honourable Members to direct us to communities where we can offer support for economic activities.
If we are honest, ladies and gentlemen, we have not been a spectacular success in this area of enterprise development amongst rural and peri-urban communities. This year, we want to escalate our work rate. We are and have started on a program started by previous Deputy Ministers of taking the dti to the people. We aim to do it in a slightly different manner as per a Cabinet directive that we move away from the mass meeting type of event to a more focused approach.
We want to send advanced parties into communities, especially the rural and peri-urban areas that will identify micro and small enterprises as well as Co-ops that need assistance, we will then actively engage with those communities together with our Provincial and local government counterparts to provide access to services identified. Seda will be key in this programme and we encourage the efforts by seda to have a presence in each district municipality of our country.
Ladies and gentlemen in regard to our programmes for women entrepreneurs I have met with the Provincial Chairpersons of the South African Women Entrepreneurs Network as well as the SAWEN Board to find a way to make our work have a greater impact. We collectively decided to do away with the membership fee, although it was a nominal amount.
We reconstructed the Board into an interim advisory board with full Provincial presentation. This year we will be doubling our efforts in making SAWEN the umbrella body for sectoral womens’ or association based organizations. We have found that we can coordinate our efforts better if we go this route. Ladies and gentlemen a huge task lies ahead to organize those groups that have not formed organizations. But it can and will be done. Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to say that the Technogirls program run by the Gender Unit will continue and take place in the Northern Cape in August this year. This is part of our contribution to the five priorities of government, where girl learners in Matric from rural and semi-urban areas are taken on an entrepreneurship and life skills camp.
The girls are also given an entrepreneurship assignment and this year if all goes well, four girls from four schools from Kraaifontein to Grabouw will attend the Gobal Summit of Women in Shanghai, China.
Ms Irene Natividad, the President of the summit gave a glowing account of the participation of the 2008 Technogirls winners at last years summit in Chile. I believe that the girls were in much demand to share their experiences with delegates from more than 40 countries.
Honourable Members I am also pleased to announce that we continue with the Technology for Women in Business Programme or TWIB, including the annual awards for women who are applying technology in their businesses .
The winners of the past competition were Ms. Tlaleng Moabi of Enzani Technologies, Ms. Sheeromani Singh of R & N Engineering and Ms Sakeena Bock of Smart Staging Solutions. This year we will upscale this program to make it accessible to more women in the rural areas as well as to link this with the overall plan of the Ministry.
Ladies and gentlemen, while resources as I said are limited, we still find that there are too many organizations often doing the same work in the same areas. I have started and will continue the dialogue to harness these resources for the good of our communities, especially those in rural and peri-urban areas.
Twenty years ago when former President Mandela was released from prison he re-iterated the words he said from the dock when convicted and sent to prison, “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities”. We need to provide those equal opportunities, we need to act faster, we need to act with “Umlilo”, a greater sense of urgency and passion. We have had sixteen years to practice, we now need to get it right.
Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to thank Minister Davies for the industrious manner in which he is leading the Ministry, thank you to Deputy Minister Tobias-Pokolo for her support. My gratitude to the Chairperson, Whip and members of the Portfolio Committee for keeping me and the department on our toes. Thanks to the DG, Tshediso Matona, acting DDG Mr Sipho Zikode and all the officials who make my job that much easier. Also a special thanks to the staff in the Ministry, all of them, for their continued support and hard work.
Ladies and gentlemen I support the budget and ask that you do the same.