The Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT) successfully concluded a series of intergovernmental sessions held in preparation for the District Development Model (DDM) Presidential Imbizo.
Held from 9 to 10 August 2023, in the Chris Hani District Municipality, these sessions demonstrated once more the impact that is made when government collaborates within and with other stakeholders including businesses.
The programme saw engagements, including a Business Engagement session and the Informal, Micro Enterprise Development Programme (IMEDP) handovers taking place. The business session and handover saw Deputy Minister of Small Business Development Dipuo Peters, DEDEAT MEC Mlungisi Mvoko, and district and local authorities working side by side with business.
The business engagement session provided a platform for a dialogue between the government and the business sector. The session’s purpose was threefold: to address the array of challenges confronting businesses, explore effective solutions and acquaint enterprises with the various support mechanisms available to the industry.
Among the issues raised by the business community were the pressing concerns of poor infrastructure, red tape, delayed payments for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and the need for improved monitoring of public entities. Businesses also submitted their concern over the shortage of mentors to support MSME growth.
Local business entities expressed the need for a fresh produce establishment, one that would stimulate the agri-industry sector. They also revealed social feedlots were burdensome to businesses because some community members rarely contribute because they use them for self-sustenance leaving business owners to shoulder the financial burden.
The dominance of foreign nationals in the retail sector also emerged as a pressing concern. This phenomenon was attributed to the strategic pooling of capital by foreign nationals, enabling them to buy in bulk stock at discounted rates, granting them a competitive edge over South African-owned businesses. Designated groups reported their struggle for market access and underscored the need for a dedicated fresh produce facility.
Several recommendations were proposed, key among them was a need to institute a collaborative programme for MSME mentorship. The government was also assigned the responsibility of utilising its business support units to facilitate the exchange of information among businesses, aiming to enable collaboration for the purpose of bulk purchasing.
Deputy Minister Peters encouraged local businesses to participate more in the retail sector and not allow the sector to be dominated by foreign nationals only. DEDEAT MEC Mvoko who was in attendance emphasised the need for seamless cooperation between officials at the local and provincial levels.
The second phase of the sessions highlighted the showcased IMEDP handover. The initiative benefited 34 beneficiaries in Intsika Yethu Local Municipality and an additional 33 businesses in Emalahleni Local Municipality on the same day.
The sessions also provided essential services through mobile units from the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) and the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
Earlier in the week, DEDEAT worked with the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) to successfully stage an Environmental Awards Competition for primary and secondary schools in the district. The partnership resulted in more than R150,000 being awarded to the winning schools as prizes.