JOHANNESBURG, 6 August 2017 – The Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba 2017 is an opportunity for stakeholders to come up with workable solutions to stop the jobs bloodbath in the metals and engineering sector, according to Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba.
The metals and engineering is among the sectors shedding jobs in thousands. In the period between July 2014 and 30 June 2017, 25 000 people lost jobs in the sector.
“The loss of jobs in this sector is a worrying trend and should be of great concern to all of us. The sector currently faces pressures from different fronts, including weak economic growth, low business and consumer confidence, increased competition from imports, low productivity and falling export figures,” Mr Nyatsumba said.
In the first quarter of 2017, metals and engineering exports declined by 8.3%, compared to the fourth quarter of 2016.
“The unfavourable market conditions have forced a number of companies, many of which are our members, either to scale down or to close completely. When this happens, the social and economic consequences are dire.
“Therefore, it becomes imperative for Government, industry, labour and other interested parties to seek common solutions to these problems,” he added.
Mr Nyatsumba said that, in addition to the job losses, South Africans should lament the opportunity cost of thousands of jobs not created because of low business confidence as a result of unfavourable political or economic circumstances.
These and other related matters will be discussed at the third Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba, which will take place at the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) Conference Centre in Sandton, from 14-15 September.
Highlights of this year’s conference will include addresses by Minister of Labour Mildred Oliphant, Minister of Small Businesses Development Lindiwe Zulu and Cosatu General Secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali. ANC National Executive Committee member and former Chairperson of the African Union (AU), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, will deliver the closing address.
Other speakers will include Zimbabwean academic and political commentator Dr Ibbo Mandaza, businesswoman Dr Mamphela Ramphele, CEO of the of Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection Joel Netshitenzhe, CEO of the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority Dr Raymond Patel, Massmart Chairman Kuseni Dlamini, Chief Commissioner of the International Trade and Administration Commission Siyabulela Tsengiwe and the CEO of the Manufacturing Circle, Phillipa Rodseth.
Mr Nyatsumba said the 2017 Indaba would build on the resounding successes of the two previous conferences. Last year’s conference included speeches by former President Kgalema Motlanthe, former Business Unity South Africa CEO Khanyisile Kweyama and Department of Trade and Industry Deputy Director-General Garth Strachan.
“We hope that, as in previous years, delegates at this year’s conference will engage in vigorous debate on matters affecting the sector and the economy at large. The speakers are experts in their areas of focus. The sessions have been carefully structured to tackle the key challenges facing manufacturers,” Mr Nyatsumba said.