Trade and Industry Minister Dr. Rob Davies says corruption must be rooted out if government is to realise the full impact of its industrial policy.
“If we have corruption in the awarding of government money to support the programmes, it means somebody who is getting it is not supposed to get it and means the programme itself is weakened (sic).
“Further, if entrepreneurs fail to abide by the law… [they] out-compete those that do and this includes collusion. In fact, collusion is the polite name for corruption,” said Davies.
He was speaking during an interactive business breakfast dialogue on the Rural and Township Industrial Economy that was hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), together with the Department of Economic Development, Tourism & Environmental Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal, eThekwini Municipality and Ithala Development Finance Corporation.
Davies said over the years, they have come across a number of tenders that did not support locally produced products but supported imports.
Tenders of this nature, said Davies, are some of the things that undermine the country’s industrial policy capabilities, as they weaken the policy tool of localisation.
“It is important that we don’t allow corruption to take place. A capable state means we want officials who know and implement the policies for the good of the country. The dti has zero tolerance to corruption. We allow the full might of the law to deal with those who engage in corrupt acts.”
Reviving township and rural economies
While sharing views on the importance of township and rural economies, Davies underscored the importance of the Industrial Parks Revitalisation Programme, which was initiated in 2016 with a focus on revitalising industrial parks.
Many of these are in the townships and rural areas, and serve as a key intervention for industrialising the rural and township economies.
In KwaZulu-Natal, the dti supports the Isithebe Industrial Park, which is located in Sundumbili township. The park was approved for R49 million and employs 25 000 people.
Delegates at the dialogue raised various issues, most notably the lack of access to finance and markets for players that are involved in the repairs of vehicles.
In response to this, Davies called on the private sector and government to come together to address these challenge, specifically for insurance companies to come to the party and give access to the market to these entrepreneurs.
KZN MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works, Ravigasen Ranganathan Pillay, echoed Minister Davies’s sentiments on pushing for an anti-corruption State.
Pillay said while implementing radical economic transformation, all parties needed to buy into the idea of anti-corruption for the programme’s benefits to be visible.
Moreover, Pillay said the establishment of manufacturing hubs for a variety of products consumed by township residents would have a considerable impact on township landscapes.
Councillor Nkosenhle Madlala described the automotive sector as a key sector in KwaZulu-Natal. The sector contributes 1.3% to the province’s gross geographic product. Madlala said more can be achieved through partnerships, especially ones that would result in the up skilling and formalisation of the mechanics and panel beaters, who are based in rural areas and townships.
The business dialogue was aimed at creating a platform for collaboration between the public and private sectors to develop support mechanisms for rural and township economies.
The event is part of the build-up to the Presidential Summit on the Rural and Township Economies, which will be hosted by the dti — in partnership with the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Advisory Council — in the Eastern Cape in July.