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The Select Committees on Economic and Business Development, and Trade and International Relations have this morning met with the Mangaung Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI). The Committees heard that there were no developments in the Free State as there is no money.

Ms Nancy de Sousa, President of the MCCI, said partnerships, innovation and enterprise are the way forward. “We are in a situation where there are few highlights that could be pointed to as contributors to stimulate economic growth. We want to change the situation. Entrepreneurs and enterprises are the engines of the community-wide economic development,” Ms De Sousa said.

“In the Free State, we need to create a sufficient number of these to transform the economy of the region. This is a farming province and now we have a drought, but we had problems before the drought,” she said

The Select Committees are on a week-long oversight visit to the Free State where they are looking to assess programmes aimed at stimulating economic growth in the province. The Committees visited energy projects, small business initiatives and community projects.

Ms De Souza said a lot of projects in the province were development-driven projects, as opposed to being people-driven.

Committee Member Mr Vusi Magwebu said stakeholders were not marketing the province the way it should be given its historical importance. “Why is domestic tourism declining? What could government do to sell the province?” he asked.

Dr Thabo Mokoena of the Department of Economic Development said projects were challenged by leadership instability in the Department, but that the new management is determined to make a change in the Free State. He said their focus was on establishing the Black Chamber of Business.

The Chairperson of the Committee on Trade and International Relations, Mr Eddie Makue, called on stakeholders to work together and improve the situation of the Free State. “Partnerships are the way to go,” he said.

He called on the Department to urgently meet with MCCI and report in two weeks’ time to Parliament on proposals that will see economic activity improve.

Sibongile Maputi
7 September 2017