The Premier of the Western Cape, Ms Helen Zille,
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies
Minister of Economic Development, Mr Ebrahim Patel
MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, Mr Alan Winde,
Mayor of the town of Saldahna Bay,
Leadership of the Transnet National Ports Authority,
The Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotion Agency,
Saldanha Bay Community,
Ladies and gentlemen,
We greet you all on this important occasion that signals a new beginning in economic development in this region and in our country, the launch of the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone (IDZ).
Today’s occasion is also another step ahead in the rollout of government’s massive national infrastructure programme.
The programme is coordinated centrally through the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission. The Commission is chaired by the President and includes Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Premiers, Metro mayors and South African Local Government Association representatives.
This enables us to move together in synergy as we supervise these infrastructure programmes, and we are making a lot of progress. Many projects are already either complete or nearing completion and some have been officially launched already in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces.
We are truly delighted today, to proclaim the very first Industrial Development Zone or Special Economic Zone in the Western Cape.
The Saldanha Bay IDZ must boost economic development and facilitate job creation by way of industrial investment in the Saldanha Bay and the surrounding areas within the West Coast region.
That is what all of us must strive towards – government, business, labour and the community sectors.
We began developing industrial development zones around the year 2000 and 2002. The dawn of democracy and opening up of our economy to the world meant that the country had to come up with strategies to reposition itself globally.
One of the instruments government decided to pursue has been the Industrial Development Zones (IDZs). Four Industrial Development Zones were designated in the ports of Coega in Port Elizabeth, East London, Richards Bay and OR Tambo International Airport between 2000 and 2002.
The main objective of IDZs is to attract Foreign Direct Investment, export value added products and create jobs.
Our objective is to develop the Saldanha-Northern Cape linked region in an integrated manner through rail and port expansion as well as back-of-port industrial capacity.
Our strategy is also aimed at strengthening the maritime support capacity to create economic opportunities from the gas and oil mining activities along the African West Coast, as well as the expansion of iron ore mining production and beneficiation in the Northern Cape.
South Africa has a three thousand kilometre long coastline and seven well-equipped commercial ports. These ports are able to function as a hub for commercial traffic emanating from and destined for Europe, Asia, the Americas as well as the east and west coasts of Africa. These ports will be utilised more than before to generate economic activities in coastal regions.
There is no doubt that if effectively implemented through a well coordinated stakeholder mobilisation, the Saldanha Bay IDZ project will have major macroeconomic benefits for both the region and the Western Cape province.
It will generate income, create jobs, grow the tax base and be a net generator of foreign exchange earnings.
It is estimated that overall direct and indirect employment creation will be around 25 000 over a period of 20 years. It is expected to generate around 62 billion rand in foreign exchange.
We are determined to turn these forecasts into reality.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is important to remember that the Special Economic Zones and the Industrial Development Zones do not function as isolated enclaves.
Their very success is dependent on the backward and forward linkages that they create and foster with companies operating outside of these zones.
It is within these sentiments that concerted effort must be established to align and integrate the IDZ plans with hose of the Saldanha Bay municipality.
They must also be coordinated with Transnet in maximising the capability of the Port of Saldanha and also with Eskom and other state authorities and government departments such as the Departments of Public Works and Transport.
This joint vision and planning of all the relevant stakeholders will enhance the expected outputs of this important industrial platform.
Let me also emphasise that education and skills development will be central to the success of this IDZ.
The Departments of Trade and Industry, Economic Development as well as Higher Education and Training will collaborate to promote skills development in Saldanha Bay and the surrounding areas. They will respond to the skills requirements of the industries being targeted to invest in this IDZ.
We take skills development so seriously as government that we are developing two brand new universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga provinces.
The Minister of Higher Education officially launched the University of Mpumalanga yesterday on 30 October while Sol Plaatjie University in the Northern Cape was launched last month.
These two institutions will provide additional platforms for training our young people to own and manage the economy. This is in addition to 12 new Further Education and Training Colleges that government is also building. All these are part of our successful national infrastructure programme.
The infrastructure programme of government has proven to be a large creator of new jobs. In all, there are more than 175 000 jobs in the main infrastructure projects coordinated by the PICC, and most have gone to the youth.
For example the two largest power station build programmes in the country, Medupi and Kusile employ more than 14 000 workers each, mostly young people.
As we continue to pursue job creating growth, we are also encouraged, ladies and gentlemen, by the decrease in the unemployment rate to 24,7% in the third quarter of 2013 as announced by Statistics SA this week.
This is an improvement from the 25,6% unemployment rate recorded in the second quarter survey this very same year.
This means an increase in employed persons by 308 000 persons, which means an improvement in the lives of more families.
However, the number of the unemployed still remains too high, which is why we are exploring all sorts of job creating interventions including this IDZ programme, within the National Development Plan ambit.
While more government programmes are rolled out each day, more areas still remain in need given the backlogs. We understand the frustrations of some of our people, especially when they see services being rolled out to other areas while they wait.
While the Constitution of our country permits protests and enshrines freedom of expression, it also states that this should be done peacefully.
Violence, looting and the destruction of property in the scale we saw in for example Bekkersdal last week or in Cape Town yesterday have no place in a democracy like ours, which provides the space for people to state their views openly and freely.
We urge our people to utilise their hard won rights to express themselves in a responsible manner.
The police will do everything possible to protect life and property during such protests. But protesters must voice their grievances and views peacefully. The police should ideally not be required to intervene at all in protests as they are essentially a democratic process.
Let me reiterate how happy we are to be launching this project here in the West Coast, especially as we head towards 20 years of freedom and democracy.
This area is rich in struggle and has produced men and women who contributed immensely to the freedom we all celebrate today.
Basil February was from this part of the world and went to school here in Saldanha and was killed in the then Rhodesia by the illegitimate Smith and Vorster regime in 1967.
We remember Abraham Jullies who was only 12 years old when he was shot in the back and killed by apartheid police on 13 September 1987 in Daizville, as well as Jonathan Slabbert from Laaiplek who were shot and killed on 4 January 1987 by a shop owner.
We also pay tribute to Collin Louw from Saldanha and Nelson Ngceni from Eendekuilwho died in January 1994 while working to build a better life for all in the West Coast.
In addition, hundreds of people were persecuted by the apartheid police and regime in the West Coast during the turbulent 1980's and scores during earlier periods.
The quest to build a non-racial, non-sexist, united and prosperous South Africa is dedicated to the lives of all these selfless South Africans here and throughout the country.
Let me also take this opportunity to wish a speedy recovery from a stroke to Mr Boyce Williams and Mr Gert Koena who have devoted their lives to fighting for the rights of workers in the fishing industry.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my honour and privilege to proclaim the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone. We will work tirelessly as government, with all stakeholders, to ensure the success of this project.
I thank you!