Johannesburg, 20 September 2018 – A change in attitude towards the metals and engineering sector from Government, particularly the Department of Trade and Industry and the Gauteng Provincial Government is urgently needed, Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba said this morning.
Speaking at the fourth Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba taking place at the IDC Conference Centre today and tomorrow, Mr Nyatsumba said the Indaba has not yet had to the full extent the enthusiastic support of Government.
“While we have deeply appreciated the involvement of Former President Kgalema Motlanthe, then-ANC Treasurer-General Dr Zweli Mkhize, Ministers Mildred Oliphant, Pravin Gordhan, Lindiwe Zulu, Ebrahim Patel and, this year, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, hitherto we have struggled to get the President of the country, the Deputy President of the country, the Minister of Trade and Industry, other key Ministers, the Gauteng Provincial Government and the Cities of Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni to show the metals and engineering sector the respect worthy of them by participating in this conference,” he said.
He added that while the business community welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment, during his inaugural State of the Nation Address in February, that the Government will place an emphasis on manufacturing, business was deeply concerned that a higher level of commitment to the metals and engineering sector from the Department of Trade and Industry and other parts of his Government (including the Presidency itself) was yet to be seen.
“They were all invited to this conference but waited until the eleventh hour to inform us that, once again, they would not bother to join us. We find that deeply concerning and hope that there will be a change in attitude after next year’s elections,” said Mr Nyatsumba.
He said SEIFSA believed in working in collaborative partnership with all stakeholders, starting with the three spheres of government, regardless of whichever party is in power in that sphere at the time.
“We want always to have healthy, constructive relations with our elected governments and our labour partners. That is why we get deeply concerned when elected officials who are accountable to us as personal and corporate taxpayers do not take as important a sector of the economy as the metals and engineering cluster seriously.”
He said in the four years of the Indaba’s existence, the Conference, has not once had the privilege of the Minister of Trade and Industry or the Director-General in that Department addressing – let alone attending it.
“This is particularly disturbing when one considers, to the best of one’s knowledge, that, quite correctly, there has never been an annual Mining Indaba without the presence and active participation of the Minister of Mineral Resources, whoever the incumbent has been at the time.”
Meanwhile, delivering the Indaba opening address, former ANC Treasurer-General and the inaugural Premier of Mpumalanga Dr Mathews Phosa said South Africa needed an economic strategy that is coherent, well-conceived and well-executed.
“We also need real leadership and real leadership signifies that you should be willing to take short-term decisions that are unpopular but will benefit your country and its people in the long term by creating policy stability, a positive view from local and global investors, and incentives for local entrepreneurs to take risks,” said Dr Phosa.
He said South Africa’s current situation needed policy stability that is devoid from incoherence and populistic, vague statements; a strengthened economic and patriotic pact between government business and labour; large scale deregulation of the small business sector; large scale deregulation of all manufacturing sectors; private public partnership to replace the current wholly-owned state companies, a total revamp of the National Prosecuting Agency so that South Africans and foreigners can take pride in the stability of the country’s justice environment and improved, detailed and specific communication with the South African nation and the global community regarding the expropriation of land.
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