National Council Of Provinces (NCOP) Budget Vote Speech Delivered by the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms Elizabeth Thabethe, MP, Old Assembly Chamber, Parliament, Cape Town

Honourable Chairperson;
Members of the National Council of Provinces;
MEC’s and Heads of Departments;
Officials of the Department Trade and Industry (the dti) and Council of Trade and Industry Institutions (COTII);
Leaders of Organized Business and Labour;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen.

The Budget Vote takes place at a time when the ANC-led government is increasing its efforts in supporting the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector. As we believe that the SME sector is critical in stimulating economic development, and that it is also a pivotal area in terms of innovation, skills development, entrepreneurship, labour-absorption and job-creation.

Honourable Members, the intensification of SME support is pivotal in consolidating our developmental posture and give true meaning to the democratic developmental State we are advocating.

The promulgation of a number of instruments such as the New Growth Path, Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP2), new Companies Act (with the strengthening of the Companies Commission), and the establishment of the Consumer Commission. These developments usher in an age where government is making strategic interventions in strategic sectors of the economy to stimulate economic development and growth.

Honourable Members, it is imperative to comprehend that policy instruments such as the New Growth Path are driven by the quest to ensure increased economic redistribution. The New Growth Path calls for extensive government support for social economy initiatives, which includes building of a stronger Cooperatives Support Agency and a possible establishment of a Cooperatives Training Academy.  In responding to this call we are now in the process of finalising a process that will ensure the introduction of the Cooperatives Academy; the Cooperatives Tribunal and the Cooperatives Agency. This illustrates the coherent nature of the work of this government in responding to the needs of the people of South Africa.

These interventions are directed at ensuring that the country has an effective and efficient institutional mechanism to support the social economy initiatives, thus ensuring focused investment in social capital.

This year has been declared by the President of the Republic as the year of job creation. It is for this reason that we have deployed all tools available in the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) to deliver on job creation. In this regard, I want to emphasize the pivotal role and the potential of the small business sector in job creation and what we are doing to increase support to SMMEs and the cooperatives.

There is even a greater role for the cooperatives movement in job creation as these foster a sense of collective social enterprise. In addition, collective forms of ownership also build the necessary cohesion in society through building of production and ownership oriented community social networks.

For these reasons our investment towards the small business sector and the cooperatives needs to been seen and evaluated within a context of ensuring an inclusive economic paradigm that integrates the participation of marginalised groups in society such as women; the youth and people with disabilities into the mainstream economic activity. This gives effect to our resolve of ensuring economic redistribution.

Our view is that cooperatives are not just about the bottom line but also about strengthening ties of community social networks which are critical for building social capital. This is the reason we are seeking to professionalize training of cooperatives through the introduction of the Cooperative Academy so that we instil efficient collective production and ownership, as well as a sense collective community enterprise anchored on the values of democratic member’s participation in decision making. In fact, the New Growth Path identifies investment in social capital as one of the key job drivers for South Africa.

In order for us to respond to the call of the President on Job Creation and deliver on the New Growth Path we require deliberate and focused interventions to resuscitate primary sectors and leverage their labour absorptive capacity. Such interventions require intensive investment in rural road infrastructure, agricultural extension services, and irrigation systems along with building viable rural transport facilities. Our investment has been directed at these areas.

For instance both the cooperatives we have launched in Limpopo and in Mpumalanga illustrate our deliberate focus to leverage the labour absorptive capacity that lies in primary sectors. As such, the cooperatives we launched in these two provinces were both in the Agricultural Sector in line with the New Growth Path’s prioritised efforts to support employment creation through the agricultural value chain.

Part of the tools we utilize to ensure that we build a viable small business sector is the Taking the dti to the people. This programme has allowed us to interface with small businesses and showcase to them the products that the dti has for them. Through this programme we go to communities where small businesses operate and engage them where they are. In this way we directly facilitate access to products that the dti has packaged through the different incentives for the small business sector.

We have also recognised women who use different forms of technology in their businesses through the Technology Women in Business (TWIB). In addition to this, we are currently investing in building Technology capacity among young girls through the Techno Girls Programme. The need to recognise these women technology pioneers, whilst nurturing the young ones through the Techno Girls programme is borne out of the need to build innovative production and business methods. This will help the Nation in ensuring that ultimately we build viable value added industries. Without us adding value to our locally produced goods, we will not be able to create the required jobs, let alone transforming our economic structure away from its extractive nature.

Our development as a country remains locked in the decentralized economic activity with serious spatial challenges which have disarticulated the logic of shared economic activity and benefits. That is why we need to make technology investment now and what a better way to do that than to recognise women who are already at the forefront of innovative technology leadership.

Furthermore, it is imperative that we must escalate public private partnerships to contribute towards job-creation and skills development.  Yesterday I was invited by the Atteridgeville Jewellery Project, wherein 16 learners were graduating after completing a jewellery design and manufacturing course. It should be noted that thus far, 80% of the trainees have been successfully placed. I would like to commend ABSA Foundation for continuing to fund the project.

In our midst today we have Mr Dichaba of Dichaba Creations, a jewellery design, manufacturing and training company. Dichaba Creations is an SME that currently employs an overall staff complement of 75 people. This company is also a recipient of the Technology Transfer Fund (maximum of about R 593 973.97) from SEDA. It should also be noted that Dichaba Creations is a beneficiary of the dti’s ITI, it has benefited from government’s facilitated international trade initiative (it has been able to secure a jewellery making deal with an Indian jewellery making company). Our commitment towards SME development is unquestionable. We intend to create more Dichaba’s in South Africa, as we believe that the SME sector is a critical vehicle in stimulating economic development and have much more labour-absorption capacity.

The Small Business Sector and the Cooperatives movement have a responsibility to help us transform the social and economic engineering of apartheid. Through our currently programmes; the different incentives directed at supporting the small business sector; and the integrated nature of how we execute government business, we are surely on the right track.

I thank you.

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