Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma urges small town investment

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma urged the black business community to invest in areas such as the OR Tambo district municipality in the Eastern Cape as they had great potential.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma urged the black business community to invest in areas such as the OR Tambo district municipality in the Eastern Cape as they had great potential.
Image: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Cooperative governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has challenged the business community to invest in the development of new towns which have higher potential for growth and job creation.

Speaking at the Black Business Council (BBC) summit held in Midrand, Johannesburg yesterday, Dlamini-Zuma lamented the habit of investment being centered in large cities, which are already developed.

This, she argued, allowed small towns to remain economically depressed while millions competed for few opportunities in large cities.

Dlamini-Zuma urged the black business community to invest in areas such as the OR Tambo district municipality in the Eastern Cape as they had great potential.

The seat of OR Tambo district is Mthatha, which was the capital of Transkei bantustan.

She said this district had potential in the oceans economy, agriculture and tourism.

"We are saying let us do a 25-year plan of what we are going to do in OR Tambo district. We know that 57% of the households in OR are headed by women because men go to the mines to look for jobs. There is nothing happening there.

"I'm putting a challenge to you Mr [Sandile] Zungu and all the business people. Here is a place which is almost exclusively African, with a huge potential and poor. As government, we've agreed that we have to put infrastructure," Dlamini-Zuma said.

She added: "We talk about new cities, why can't we have a new city at OR. Let us continue having Lanseria and expanding it. But why can't we have a completely new city at OR over the next 25 years. There is a university there, it does not have a faculty of agriculture. There is nothing at the university about the oceans economy or about tourism."

Dlamini-Zuma called for the private sector to embrace the new district model which government is using to speed up development.

Last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that government would speed up the roll-out of the district development model to 23 districts by the end of 2020.

In this model, the three spheres of government coordinate and integrate development plans and budgets while also mobilising resources from civil society, business and labour for growth and job creation.

Meanwhile, BBC CEO Kganki Matabane told Sowetan on the sidelines of the summit that local government needed to speed up the way it deals with approvals for projects in order to enable small businesses to grow.

He said: "When you do business in local government, you need a lot of approvals from the municipality. If you want to convert your house into a business, you need to apply for rezoning. Those things take long. opportunities do not wait for bureaucracy..."

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