I have today written to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development, Ruth Bhengu, requesting that she summon the Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, to appear before the Committee and account for the appalling neglect of Industrial Parks in Gauteng townships.
These township Industrial Parks, operated and owned by the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA), are run down, lack adequate lighting, basic infrastructure, security and refuse collection, and are severely over-crowded.
The state of the parks demonstrate SEFA’s neglect of their mandate to foster the establishment, survival and growth of SMMEs and contribute towards poverty alleviation and job creation.
While there were initially high hopes that these Industrial Parks would become hubs of manufacturing activity and black entrepreneurship, a long history of under-investment and neglect has left them in a dire state.
At one of the parks, in Pennyville, a fire destroyed one of two large factory spaces, leaving scores of small businesses devastated and without premises to operate from. Two years later the site lies abandoned.
At the Orlando West Industrial Park in Soweto, over 75 businesses are crammed into dilapidated buildings erected in 1983 by SEFA’s predecessor, the Small Business Development Corporation. These buildings are in desperate need of rejuvenation, yet they have simply been ignored.
These industrial parks are particularly attractive as they have the potential to address both unemployment and racially based economic exclusion, and thus should be prioritised by the ANC government.
However the very opposite is occurring, which begs the question – is the ANC truly committed to tackling unemployment, poverty and inequality?
The Gauteng Province Industrial Parks Association’s litany of grievances has been ignored by Minister Patel and it is high time he accounts to Parliament for such disregard and presents a turnaround strategy for the Industrial Parks.
With a national unemployment rate of over 36%, job creating initiatives like Industrial Parks are critically important and should be made a top priority.
Issued by DA