Deputy Minister meets with Newcastle business leaders on way forward

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Amajuba District finds itself under the national spotlight, with the Deputy Minister of Social Development, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu undertaking a week-long initiative focusing on the area’s development.

The Amajuba District’s Development Outreach involves the Deputy Minister interacting with local mayors in the district, schools, NPOS, as well as business and community leaders.

Meeting with business leaders on Monday evening, 1 March 2021, Bogopane-Zulu highlighted, “I always like to ask, what is your legacy and what do you want to leave behind?” With these viewpoints in mind, she emphasised the purpose of the meeting was to build a relationship with the business sector in order to leverage existing resources to foster development in the district through their respective Corporate Social Investment (CSI) initiatives.

However, Bogopane-Zulu stressed that while she intended to assist wherever possible, she wanted to look at what solutions business leaders could put forward for the issues faced. “I am here to see how you can assist in promoting change and development.” Furthermore, by business leaders sharing their views, Bogopane-Zulu states, she can establish what challenges are faced in boosting the local economy while looking at possible steps the government could take to address red tape issues hampering economic development and growth.

While looking at forming an open chain of communication with the various business chambers, she stressed the importance of co-exitance between the public and business sector to see the local economy flourish, with job security being brought to the forefront. Despite wanting to see the Amajuba District flourish, the Deputy Minister emphasised she was concerned about the gang violence in certain parts of the district. “We need to ask, why do you have such angry boys? The district also has a high number of teenage pregnancies and child-headed homes, which we need to address.”

According to Bogopane-Zulu, “Businesses will not thrive with dysfunctional families. We must look at how to address these problems, as functional families make successful businesses.”

Sharing her views with the business community, she then opened the floor to guests, allowing them to voice their concerns and offer remedies.

Guests stressed that they faced numerous obstacles requiring immediate government intervention. This included the local tourism and hospitality industry, with several businesses struggling to remain afloat, despite wedding and conferencing centres now being able to have 100 people in attendance. It was felt the government should look at ways to assist these companies in ensuring no further job losses were suffered.

As one businessman pointed out, another issue was the fact that South Africa’s leadership are predominantly older individuals who are unable to relate to the large generation of youngsters making up the South African population. “These leaders have brilliant papers and plans in action, but they are not driven, as these leaders are too busy making deals for themselves as they come closer to pension.” 

Moreover, he pointed out that the government needs to address the fact that large national and international companies operating in the district seldom ploughed back into the local community. They often opt to resource labour from out of town while avoiding initiatives promoting local growth, hampering local business development. “We are suffering in this district,” he affirms.

With the local business sector providing insight into their world, Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu will now look at possible solutions to resolve the issues faced. As she works on these obstacles, what are your thoughts? How do you feel the government sector can help the local economy? 

Share your views with us in the comment section below.

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