Local production key to boost COVID-19 battered economy

Deputy President David Mabuza has underscored the importance of the local production of personal protective equipment and the manufacturing of medical equipment as the key to reviving the country’s economy, which is adversely affected by COVID-19.

“It is a reality that trade globally has been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is upon us to strategically use this challenge to grow our domestic economy and prepare citizens to be able to take up opportunities that may arise as global conditions for trade and investment are eased, including investing in the expansion of the country’s e-commerce capacity,” said Mabuza.

The Deputy President assured the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) that government, working with the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) constituencies, is leveraging on partnerships and turning challenges that arise from the pandemic into opportunities to grow domestic manufacturing.

The Deputy President said this in his written reply to questions from the NCOP submitted on 5 August 2020.

Questions from political parties represented in the NCOP ranged from issues of service delivery hotspots, initiatives to revive the economy and programmes to curb farm attacks.

In response to a question on government’s plan to accelerate agricultural support and curb farm attacks, the Deputy President said through the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform and Agriculture, there is a concerted effort by government to ensure the sustainability of the sector as the lifeblood of the economy.

The Deputy President said agriculture continues to show resilience in the face of economic contraction and remains a pivotal part of South Africa’s economy.

Mabuza said the most important resource in the agricultural sector, including rural farming communities, are the people who live on and work the land.

Farm murders

On the scourge of farm murders, the Deputy President said it was reassuring that courts have been thorough in the prosecution of the perpetrators of heinous crimes.

“While crime prevention is the priority of our police service, we draw comfort from the fact that where perpetrators are brought to book, our courts have shown their independence and capability to dispense justice to the victims of violent crimes such as murder.

“They are thorough and show no mercy to those who inflict physical, psychological and economic damage on the communities who put food on our tables and on the tables around the world. The South African Police Service will continue to improve relationships with all constituencies in farming communities,” said Mabuza.

The Deputy President highlighted the case of Zaahida Shakur, a pregnant mother and wife, who was murdered at her farm in Weenen recently.

“Even in the observance of Women’s Month, we continue to be confronted with violence against women and children. Such crimes are a cause for moral concern and societal outrage,” said Mabuza.

Service delivery hotspots

On service delivery hotspots and rapid response interventions proposed for the affected municipalities, the Deputy President assured members of the NCOP that service delivery remains a key instrument in government’s social contract with the people of South Africa.

“Even through the current period of the nationwide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, government continues to strengthen its efforts of supporting municipalities to ensure that people continue to receive uninterrupted and reliable access to basic services such as healthcare, electricity, water and sanitation,” he said.

Mabuza said municipalities experiencing severe electricity challenges, often as a result of excess usage of the notified maximum demand and failure to honour debt repayments to Eskom, are the foremost contributors to service delivery challenges.

In this regard, the Political Task Team on Eskom, chaired by the Deputy President, is looking into all the municipalities that are exceeding the contracted demand with a view to resolving the negative impact on communities.

The Deputy President is also convening the Political Task Team on Eskom, scheduled for Friday, 7 August 2020, which will focus on progress made in the stabilisation of electricity supply and on the joint response to issues of corruption impacting the utility.