The DA has a vision for Gauteng

There has been some speculation in the media about the DA’s internal polling numbers and our chances of winning Gauteng next year, but polls only provide a snapshot at a given moment in time. The truth is that the recent voter registration turnout demonstrated that it is game on between the DA and the ANC in Gauteng for the 2019 general election.

The DA has a vision for Gauteng based on true dignity for every citizen. As social liberals, we define dignity as the right of every person to provide for themselves, their family and their loved ones. We believe that our society is only as strong as our most vulnerable citizen and our guiding principle must be: How do we give the life of a high school dropout meaning and purpose?

As a party, we also know that South Africa must rise to the challenge of a technological revolution in which big data and robotics are transforming our industries.

The narrow definition of people actively seeking work puts the unemployment rate in Gauteng at 28% – over one in four people without work. This figure, however, masks the true face of the crisis. Traditional pathways to employment are shifting in our increasingly uncertain world and this changing workplace requires new skills and thinking.

Access to the dignity of work requires bold leadership if we are to ensure this critical freedom for all South Africans.

Our 2019 vision is to position Gauteng as Africa’s top business centre and tourist hub: a visionary province that creates real work opportunities and delivers good services for all. We must boldly re-imagine the role of government in the changing global economy to ensure that South African citizens are not left behind. Technology, automation and artificial intelligence are impacting on the world of work in an unprecedented way.

In our “whole of society” vision, the DA’s investment in our children will allow young mothers to return to work – and we will do the same in Gauteng. Misogyny and patriarchy remain deeply entrenched in our society. The DA provincial government will empower women entrepreneurs in the townships to establish the early learning centres as public private initiatives, just as the executive mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, has proposed. We will also support aspirant entrepreneurs who prioritise women in applying for start-up finance, including accessing funding and expertise from educational organisations.

Across the world, the workplace and jobs are being redefined at a fast pace. We need to rethink the purpose of fair work for all as the old ways of creating jobs are becoming obsolete. Even the British economic powerhouse is considering a Universal Basic Opportunity Fund, which provides low-skilled workers with a living wage so that they don’t suffer a loss of income. Drawing on international best practice in countries such as Malaysia and Singapore, we must adopt a similar subsidised wages scheme for people who are in training.

As in the Western Cape, a DA-led Gauteng will make it easier for businesses to employ South Africans by cutting through the egregious red tape and restrictions that hold entrepreneurs back by preventing them from launching new businesses and accessing start-up capital.

There is of course a legitimate concern that citizens are struggling to find work in the hospitality industry and security sectors. Illegal immigrants are often recruited for these jobs, which perpetuates the divisions within our society and exacerbates xenophobic attacks. We must not only be tough on xenophobia, we must be tough on the elements that cause it.

We must prioritise the recruitment of South Africans into these positions and help formalise the status of legal immigrants. This can only be done with an immigration policy that keeps the door firmly closed to illegal immigrants and criminals, and the door wide open to legal migrants who contribute to the country.

We’ve already pledged that province-owned land and buildings will be audited, and affordable commercial spaces for small businesses, artisans and shops will be identified and leased out at the lowest possible rental. We believe that new jobs will be created in dynamic businesses. We will provide expertise to assist businesses to evolve from start-ups to scale-ups. Acting as a grand facilitator, we’ll also partner large, sector-focused companies with smaller businesses that want to grow.

And we will look at setting up a provincial entrepreneurial strategy forum with representatives from all sectors of society, working to connect aspirant entrepreneurs to microfinance and loans.

Wherever we govern, large supply chain and procurement tenders will be carved up into smaller contracts. This is so that many more small and medium enterprises can then bid for them successfully, especially for first-time entrepreneurs.

The DA has an energising vision to transform our entrepreneurial culture, so that, for example, taxi drivers can become taxi company owners. In a positive domino effect, jobs will become vacant for jobless people. All we ask for is the opportunity to serve.

- Gana is a DA member of the Gauteng provincial legislature. Follow him on Twitter @makashule

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