Keynote Address by Deputy Minister Mhaule occasion of the Stakeholder Engagement Dinner on the 10th BRICS Summit in Ekhureleni, 22 June 2018
Executive Mayor of City of Ekurhuleni, Cllr Mzwandile Masina
MMC for Finance and Economic Development, Cllr Nkosindiphile Xhakaza
Other Members of the Members of Mayoral Council
Members of the BRICS Business Council
Our BRICS Partners
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Captains of Industry
Members from the Small and Medium Enterprises
Youth and Women in Business
Ladies and Gentlemen
We are honoured to be given this opportunity to be here with you today, to share and deliberate with yourselves on our preparations towards the upcoming BRICS summit. We are indeed seized with a unique opportunity as we usher our country into a new dawn of shared prosperity for all.
It is indeed heartening that this momentous stakeholder engagement on BRICS, not only takes place in the significant year of 2018, but also takes place here in the City of Ekurhuleni where the historic Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) negotiations were held to end apartheid in South Africa. As you are aware, 2018 has been declared the year of Nelson Mandela with a view to commemorate his centenary and to celebrate his legacy.
Similarly, this year also marks the centenary of Mama Albertina Sisulu and as such South Africans will be joined by the international community for the commemorations of the centenary of not one but two international icons of anti-apartheid struggle.
In essence, this year’s programmes has been designed in such a way that, it deliberately remembers and follows on the footsteps of these two gallant stalwarts of our liberation as a lesson to the new generation of Commitment, Resilience, Selflessness and dedication in service of the people.
Furthermore, this occasion of the stakeholder engagement also takes place in the significant month of June, which is officially dedicated as Youth Month, during which we commemorate and celebrate the gallant and selfless heroism of the youth of 1976. As we pay tribute to our young men and women, we should always keep in mind the assertion by Oliver Reginald Tambo that a country which does not look after its youth has no future.
From the onset, allow me to express my sincere appreciation to the Executive Mayor of the City of Ekurhuleni, Councillor (Cllr) Mzandile Masina for extending this invitation to myself and the Department. I am confident that the set objectives of this forum will be realised.
We meet today, when the global economy is showing signs of recovery and improved growth. Here at home, we have entered into a new contract, a new dawn, where our economy occupies centre stage, business confidence and investor sentiment is improving.
On our side we are working extra hard to capitalize on this positive turn as indicated in the reversed economic rating from negative to stable by Moody’s.
As President Ramaphosa alluded in his speech at the South Africa-Canada Investor Engagement:
“This is a positive development, which can be attributed to the implementation of more predictable and transparent policies. “
“The revised outlook conveys the message that South Africa is politically and economically stable and is becoming more attractive to potential investors.”
I strongly believe that the municipality is in appreciation of this fact, given that it is the Aerotropolis that connect us to the rest and the African continent and the world. The high level of foreign investors and local captains of industry and business that pass through your city highlights this point. Moreover, this Municipality has a very diverse economy which is engaged in aviation, manufacturing, tourism, mining, real estate, as well as infrastructure. As such, you contribute immensely to South Africa’s high volumes of trade and economic cooperation with the continent.
Ladies and gentlemen
We are aware of the challenges that face us here at home and also on the international stage, where South Africa continues to punch above its weight. Whilst the global trends have indicated the rise of Alt-Right popular politics and also an increase in inward looking policies that have shifted defined goalpost on matters surrounding international trade and migrations.
This challenges thus offers us a unique opportunity as the BRICS grouping to assume a key role in introducing initiatives that will champion the course of internationalism that is under siege under the theme: “BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution”.
As such, we are therefore continuing with efforts to fast-track socio-economic transformation of our society in line with our shared vision as encapsulated in the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030.
As spelt out in the NDP, our transformation agenda can only be realised through cooperative partnership with Business through Public Private Partnerships. For our part, the government is doing everything possible to improve existing conditions to increase foreign investment in the country. South Africa remains an investment destination with strong economic and financial sectors.
Furthermore, our intensive efforts in engaging in various strategic partnerships is yielding positive returns. Such partnership will greatly contribute to the diversifying of African economies whilst also contributing to the continental efforts of building infrastructure which will bode well for the intra Africa trade agenda we are working on.
The intention of the Leaders for BRICS cooperation to find expression beyond the highest political domain is being realised through the increased people-to-people cooperation, which has spurred new and increased platforms for BRICS cooperation including youth and women, amongst others. In the context of South Africa’s Summit deliverables for 2018, a proposal has been made for the establishment of a BRICS Women’s Forum as a fully-fledged cooperation track, under which discussions around the socio-economic empowerment and advancement of women will be deliberated and advanced.
The 4th BRICS Youth Summit organised by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), in cooperation with the Department of National Planning and Evaluation takes place from 16 to 21 July 2018 under the theme “Radical Economic Transformation - Making the BRICS Bank work for youth”. The objectives of the Youth Summit are:
- To encourage young leaders amongst BRICS nations to actively participate in addressing the most significant global challenges, economic and social issues and development agenda.
- To establish constructive exchange of views on strategic issues empowering youth.
- To build ideas for a brighter and better tomorrow.
A Concept Note on the establishment of the BRICS Women’s Forum was presented by the Department of Women at the First BRICS Sherpa/Sous Sherpa Meeting from 4 to 6 February 2018 in Cape Town. It is envisaged that the Women’s Forum will be established prior to the 10th BRICS Summit from 25 to 27 July 2017 in Johannesburg.
The proposed forum is aimed at providing a platform for BRICS members to engage on critical issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment; to address major concerns related to women across the BRICS countries; to promote mainstreaming of women’s issues across BRICS’ processes, priority areas, declarations and agreements; as well as to provide a platform for exchange of best practice, research and knowledge relating to BRICS women and girls.
Proposed priority areas for collaboration of the BRICS Women’s Forum include Poverty Eradication; Financial Inclusion of women; Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation, and Bridging the digital divide.
The President has already urged all stakeholders to work together on a social compact to create jobs, particularly for young South Africans. In this regard we have, in collaboration with the private sector, together launched the Youth Employment Service initiative in March this year.
Over the next three years, this initiative aims to create paid work experience opportunities in South African companies to at least one million young people. Young people represent 66% of South Africa’s population and the challenge, at hand, is how to harness their collective potential to be productive and contribute to the growth of an inclusive, knowledge-driven industrial economy.
We are confident as well that we will realize our full growth potential and targets of our social pact which the President announced to drive investment that aims to raise US$ 100 billion over the next five years. The interaction of the private sector under the auspices of the BRICS Business Council will assist us to realise this undertaking.
This is important considering that all BRICS Member States are committed to support youth employment in their respective countries. One of the ways to overcome the challenge of youth unemployment is for BRICS to prioritise the development of small and medium enterprises. In doing so we must place emphasis on creating young entrepreneurs as compared to job seekers.
For our part, the African Union focused its thematic work in the previous year on harnessing the demographic dividends and therefore work has begun to deal with youth unemployment in the continent. We believe that the young generation shall help us to realise our development aspirations and contained in Agenda 2063 as well as ensuring that we are not left behind in this era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
We remain steadfast in utilizing the BRICS mechanisms to achieve both our national and continental development agenda. The BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) has opened its African Regional Centre later in 2018 and our view is that this Centre will facilitate development funding for countries on the continent. I can assure you that this Bank has already accomplished the unthinkable in few years of its existence.
To date the NDB has approved loans of $5.1billion (R68.7bn) and envisages to reach $15bn worth of loans by 2021.
As you may be aware the recent meeting of the board of directors and governors of the NDB has approved a budget for six new projects.
Accordingly, the bank has approved a loan of $200million to Transnet in order to enhance the capacity of its port in Durban.
The project will see the rehabilitating of the port’s container terminal docks that are currently operating beyond their original design, and the upgrading of port infrastructure to provide additional slots for larger vessels.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our aim is to unlock the economic potential of our country, which includes realising the full benefits of our ocean economy to fight poverty and underdevelopment. This requires commitment to initiate and manage systemic changes in our economy.
Other benefits from our membership with BRICS countries is the increase in Direct Foreign Investment and access to markets which was witness when South Africa starting exporting beef to China. Our business community and in particular, small to medium enterprises utilise these leverage of our bilateral and multilateral agreements to achieve business success and create much need jobs for our economy.
In this context, I recall Tata Madiba’s words during the Rally Address following his release from Pollsmoor Prison, on Sunday 11 February 1990 in Cape Town when he called for:
“A fundamental restructuring of our political and economic systems to ensure that the inequalities of apartheid are addressed and our society thoroughly democratized.”
We are under no illusion that a lot still needs to be done to improve the ease of doing business in our country and also ways of incorporating small business into the economy. Our special economic zones should be encouraged to open up opportunities to SMME’s to stimulate economic growth and participation of the previously disadvantaged masses.
As I conclude it is important to briefly remind you that the land question in South Africa is anchored on the prescriptions of our constitutional to address the injustices and it’s also serves as collateral for our people to actively participate in their nationals’ economy. The process therefore will be resolved in accordance with the Laws of our country. We have reassured our partners in the BRICS as well as leaders in government and business across the world.
We must work hard to eliminate the constraint of doing business to grow the economy and also attract new investment. South Africa is indeed open for business.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road