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The revitalisation of the Dimbaza, Fort Jackson and Queenstown industrial parks and the creation of the new ones in the Eastern Cape is a step in the right direction in efforts to create employment closer to the people, members of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) told senior officials of the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) and the provincial Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism yesterday.

On the third day of a week-long report-back visit to the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality after a Taking Parliament to the People programme visited the same area in 2016, a group of NCOP members visited local economic development projects in East London’s industrial development zone (IDZ). Among other things, the 2016 programme focused on performance of new businesses and projects in the Eastern Cape using Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipal area as a sample.

Senior officials of the Eastern Cape provincial Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism told the delegation that the provincial executive had adopted an economic infrastructure programme in 2016 to promote the emergence of entrepreneurs to create employment. The department provides the money for the infrastructure programme, while the ECDC is the implementer. The department hopes, in this way, to address historic spatial economic development challenges and create job opportunities.

Money has been made available for the revitalisation of Vulindlela Multisectoral Park, Komani Industria, Dimbaza Agripark and Fort Jackson Industrial Park. The Dimbaza Agri-park includes the newly established FiveUp Agricultural Cooperative.

The NCOP delegation heard from IDZ’s Science and Technology Incubation Centre that it is waiting for funding, despite NCOP recommending that the centre be provided with finance after visiting the centre in 2016.

The centre’s operations manager, Ms Ludwe Macingwana, said the centre promotes business innovation by developing a business idea into an enterprise and then protecting it from competition from other businesses. The leader of the NCOP delegation, Mr Mandla Rayi, urged government departments and other role-players to combine efforts to create sustainable employment in the Eastern Cape.

The report-back visit culminated in a public meeting held in Mdantsane. The leaders of the NCOP delegations that visited service delivery sites in Mdantsane, King William’s Town and East London gave reports on what they had seen. In his report, Mr Rayi said not much had been achieved in translating the NCOP’s 2016 recommendations into acceptable improvement. A meeting has been proposed of all relevant stakeholders, including select committees and MECs for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism; Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs; and councillors of the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality to ensure that the NCOP recommendations are followed.

The NCOP’s Ms Lungelwa Zwane, who led a group that visited schools in Mdantsane, also said there was very limited progress at all the sites the group visited.

Members of the public who attended the public meeting one after another told the NCOP how disappointed they were about the lack of change following the 2016 programme. In fact, things have deteriorated even further in some wards, they said, especially in health, education, human settlements and sanitation.

 

Mava Lukani

16 March 2018