DURBAN - As anticipation builds for the upcoming State of the Nation Address (Sona), Proudly South African, a “buy local” campaign, said it was expecting job creation to be a prominent feature in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech.
Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation on February 10 from the Cape Town City Hall – the fire in the Parliament precinct forced the government to move this year’s Sona.
Proudly South African said it hoped the speech would focus more on tackling unemployment, beginning with rallying the country behind local businesses, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
According to Statistics South Africa, the number of people with jobs before the country’s first hard lockdown in March 2020 totalled 16.4 million. However, this number fell to 14.3 million by the end of September 2021 – a more than 12% decrease within the space of 18 months.
Proudly SA Chief executive Eustace Mashimbye said the number of South Africans who are employed has plunged by 2.1 million since Covid-19 first hit the country. This translated to an alarming average of more than 3 800 fewer breadwinners each day, he said.
“These figures translate into a loss of income and significant financial hardship for a growing number of families, aggravating social ills such as poverty, food insecurity and homelessness. A situation which is untenable and can lead to scenes such as we saw in July last year.
“It is only through job creation that we can finally turn the tide on these issues. This starts with stimulating business development and encouraging companies to gradually increase their capacity by consciously directing spending towards locally made and manufactured goods,” he said.
Mashimbye said insufficient demand remained the primary reason for underutilisation of production capacity in manufacturing and this was where the government needed to play a larger role in leading by example.
He said they were hoping that the government would draw on local materials and equipment when it rebuilds the National Assembly building.
“We are calling on all spheres of government to show support for local manufacturers as per the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act, and extending local procurement practices to as many other items as possible.
“Private citizens and more importantly, private businesses, also have a critical role to play and need to use their power as purchasing decision makers to place South Africa and South African jobs first in order to co-author a better future for all. We would therefore urge President Ramaphosa to use this year’s Sona as a rallying call for all to urgently mobilise in support of buying local,” said Mashimbye.
He said through supporting businesses by gradually investing in building capacity, consumers would be able to benefit from price efficiencies while companies benefit from investments in building independent, robust supply chains that are able to withstand overseas shocks.
“The example of Mara Phones demonstrates that there is a convincing argument to be made for locally manufactured goods, and that new industry players are able to produce quality, affordable and innovative products. Additionally, its success in developing new markets overseas for exports demonstrates just how compelling its product offering really is.
“As President Ramaphosa prepares his upcoming speech, we would therefore like to encourage him to advocate again for localisation as a national economic imperative for reigniting economic growth and job creation,” said Mashimbye.