The better future we want to build

In providing an overview of the Western Cape’s new Growth for Jobs Strategy, Minister for Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger, challenges businesses and citizens of the province to have the courage to adapt, reform and make the right choices.

Mireille Wenger, Minister for Finance and Economic Opportunities
Mireille Wenger, Minister for Finance and Economic Opportunities

If you are reading this now, I would like you to close your eyes and picture where you will be in 2035.

What state will our country and province be in? What will be happening in our economy? Will we have enough jobs for future generations? Will there be hope? I am sure this exercise will cause you some anxiety, given the challenging times we face today…

Now imagine a 2035 where our economy is growing at between 4% and 6%. Where we are creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs, lifting people out of poverty. Where businesses, big, small and informal have the energy, water, infrastructure, skills and technology to grow and succeed. Where a child, no matter where they are born, has the pathway to a better life.

I am sure what you are now feeling is hope. The sort of contagious hope that cannot be contained.

This is the future we want for the Western Cape and for South Africa. This is the better future we want to build.

During this time of difficulty for our country, with stagnant growth, devastating loadshedding, the real prospect of recession and high levels of unemployment and despair, the question can be fairly asked: is it realistic for the Western Cape to be setting out so audaciously to achieve 4% to 6% of break-out economic growth?

The real question, I believe, is rather why South Africa is not already achieving this growth? We have everything we need to succeed as a country if we just get the fundamentals of growth right. What is clear to me is that we will never achieve it if we are limited in our ambition, constrained by the wrong policies and lack the courage to adapt, reform and make the right choices.

We have everything we need to succeed as a country if we just get the fundamentals of growth right.

Vision and action

Change requires a vision and action towards it – so, yes, we can realise a better future for our country, and we must work toward it with determination.

The Growth for Jobs Strategy is the Western Cape’s bold step towards realising this better future. We know what the Western Cape and South Africa are capable of if we enable the private sector’s success.

And so, this Strategy provides a courageous vision for our province, with clear targets for each key focus area that our economy needs to succeed. To be clear, this is not just a vision for our government. The targets are not ours alone. They are yours too: business, big and small, civil society, entrepreneurs and every citizen in our province. This is what we can achieve if we work together and make the right choices, now, today.

I am reminded of President Nelson Mandela’s wise words, which continue to hold so much truth today: “It seems impossible until it is done.”

Let’s get it done, so that a prosperous Western Cape is not something in our imagination, but a new, real era of hope, opportunity and freedom.

The Western Cape Growth for Jobs Strategy

Like the rest of South Africa, the Western Cape faces a range of deep, interconnected, socio-economic challenges that include unemployment, poverty and crime. While there is no panacea for these challenges, which have deep roots in the country’s history and social structure, there is also no prospect of addressing any of them without faster economic growth.

Arnold Shoes, Cape Town. Photo: Made in Cape Town, CDI

Economic growth is essential to generating rapid and sustained job creation, faster growth in living standards and increased resources available to society. The Western Cape Government identified the need for a strategy to lift dramatically the provincial growth rate and, to the extent that growth continues to falter in South Africa, to decouple the province’s growth trajectory from that of the rest of the country.

Therefore, this Growth for Jobs Strategy sets out a comprehensive, challenging and ambitious goal for the Western Cape to grow its economy by between 4% and 6% by 2035.

It is also a strategy that clarifies that how we grow our economy is as important as the growth itself. In this way, the Growth for Jobs Strategy distinguishes itself from previous strategies, by providing a long-term perspective with clear targets, framed within defined principles. It is centred on systemic solutions that address key binding constraints and an enabling environment for the private sector that accelerates our economic growth.

The formulation of the Growth for Jobs Strategy has been data-driven, evidence-led and has involved extensive consultation across government, with stakeholders from the private and public sectors, and representatives from across civil society and academia.

At its heart, the Growth for Jobs Strategy is premised on a recognition that the private sector creates jobs, while the State needs to create an environment in which people and businesses are enabled to create and exploit opportunities as they arise. This kind of horizontal enablement empowers citizens and fosters independence, freedom and self-reliance.

To give effect to this approach, the Growth for Jobs Strategy has several important anchors:
  • Clear principles set out in a strategic framework that have guided thinking and decisions.
  • Crucial priority focus areas (PFAs), namely driving growth through investment, stimulating market growth through exports and growing domestic markets, enhancing energy resilience and driving the transition to net zero carbon, driving water security and resilience, technology and innovation, infrastructure and the connected economy, improving access to economic opportunities and employability. These PFAs shape decisions around the nature of the interventions needed to maximise impact.

Finally, the Growth for Jobs Strategy is a whole-of-government, all-of-society strategy whose success requires the energy, commitment and allocation of resources from across government, the private sector and civil society.

The Growth for Jobs Strategy is the Western Cape’s bold step towards realising this better future. Be a part of our journey!