Last week, Statistics South Africa revealed that four out of every five young people in South Africa cannot find work. As a young person with a young family myself, it is hard to overstate the catastrophic danger that this statistic holds for the future of our country. There can simply be no higher priority for South Africa than rapid economic growth.
This growth imperative was an important motivator in my decision to run for Mayor of Cape Town. Focused, competent metro governments can do a great deal to grow the economy faster, even if the national government isn’t helping.
The latest unemployment figures make it clear that we need to start doing things very differently to create a future that young South Africans can look forward to.
In Cape Town, we should be prepared to try innovative policy ideas to grow the economy and get people into work.
The DA-led City of Cape Town has already proven that we can lower unemployment by creating an environment that welcomes innovation and entrepreneurship. Unemployment, including youth unemployment, is not only lower in Cape Town than in the rest of the country, but a recent report from fDi Intelligence, a data division of the Financial Times group, also ranked Cape Town as one of the world’s fastest-growing regions for foreign direct investment.
But while Cape Town is already the best-run city in South Africa, we also need to recognise that much more needs to be done to protect Cape Town against national government failures. While government often smothers entrepreneurs and the jobs they create in regulatory red tape, Cape Town must be totally different.
That is why I intend to run the most entrepreneur-friendly administration that Cape Town has ever seen, and why one of my seven pledges to the people of Cape Town is to make our city the easiest place to do business in Africa.
Investors and entrepreneurs who are chased away by the ideologues in national government must find a safe haven that welcomes them with open arms here in Cape Town.
Given all the talent and resources at our disposal, we need to do much more to ensure that Cape Town overtakes places like Nairobi and Kigali on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index. The index shows that entrepreneurs in our city still face difficulties and delays in registering property and enforcing contracts. It is time to take the shears to this type of red tape, which is holding us back from creating thousands of new jobs.
But reducing the burden of red tape alone will not be enough. We also need to take the fight directly to the national government on the issue of load shedding. It is simply not possible for Cape Town to reach its full potential for as long as businesses are forced to run on generators, and for as long as students are forced to study by candlelight.
That is why I have also pledged that the next DA government in Cape Town will work day and night to end load shedding in our city. The amendments made last year to the regulations governing electricity generation have opened the door to municipalities to generate their own electricity. We should now kick that door down completely to ensure that in Cape Town business can thrive and work-seekers can find jobs.
Thanks to years of DA good governance, Cape Town has been able to withstand national economic decline better than any other city in the country. But as our country’s economy continues to deteriorate, we simply will have no choice but to do even more than ever before to secure the future of Cape Town.
I see the opportunity of a lifetime to turn Cape Town into the great world city it deserves to be. Now is the time to do more than ever before by making our Mother City the premier investment destination in Africa and by ending the scourge of load shedding once and for all. DM
Geordin-Hill Lewis is Cape Town mayoral candidate for the DA