Inkosi E M Buthelezi MPL
The budget we are debating today has far reaching implications for all sectors of our province. I say this because, if properly managed, economic development in our province will create sustainable jobs, increased tourism to bring in additional revenue and create jobs, and caring for our environment will assist the two previously mentioned responsibilities of this department, which will in turn create more jobs. I mention jobs because poverty is the root cause of unhappiness and anger among our people. If people have sustainable jobs there will be a reduction of crime and communities will thrive. Therefore, Madame Speaker this budget of almost R3billion, if well managed, will go a long way towards addressing the challenges that face us as a province.
Unfortunately, Madame Speaker I cannot say with any degree of confidence that this department is doing enough to attract foreign direct investments into KwaZulu-Natal thereby creating sustainable jobs. The task of attracting foreign direct investments has been dealt a severe blow due to the recent xenophobic attacks and the slow response by this government to ease the fears of those who have investments in our province, and also those who had been eyeing KZN as a possible investment destination. Foreign investors have already shifted their focus to countries such as Zambia, Nigeria and Botswana. Restoring business confidence will require a multi-pronged approach that should ideally be led by the Premier and involve other related departments, such as Community Safety and Finance. Attracting large investors with the potential of creating jobs, especially in the rural areas will reduce poverty in KZN.
Trade and Industry KwaZulu-Natal (TIK) has a major role to play in branding KZN as an investment destination. On page 131 there is a long list of international entities that TIK has partnered with in order to attract investments. The MEC must tell this House what benefits have been derived from these partnerships. On page 135 it is stated "The entity will assist in retaining companies that have already invested in KZN and help them grow their business".
This is good, but we need to know how TIK plans to do so. We need to know what strategies are in place to achieve this goal while at the same time attracting new investments.
Another responsibility of this department that has been dealt a blow because of the xenophobic attacks is that of Tourism. The tourism sector has reported numerous tourist cancellations in the city of Durban and other parts of the province. Hotels in major centres have also reported cancellations. We are aware that many countries have also issued warnings to its citizens not to visit KZN and especially to avoid Durban and Pietermaritzburg. This sort of negative international response does not augur well for our tourism industry.
Madame Speaker, there has to be a concerted effort to promote KZN as a safe tourist destination nationally as well as internationally. We are aware that KZN receives thousands of domestic tourists who visit our province and must now lose that market also.
Therefore, I am concerned that the Programme 6: Tourism budget has been reduced by R236 000. As stated on page 169 this amount is recorded as a first charge against its budget due to unauthorised expenditure in the 2013/14 financial year. This will reduce the department's financial capability in promoting tourism in KZN.
It is pleasing to note that the "Sharks International Conference" held in June 2014 by the KZN Sharks Board was a great success. Our compliments go to the KZN Sharks Board and their staff.
Madame Speaker, one of the issues that has been hampering investments is the issue of delays in the environmental impact assessments. Many multi-nationals do not wait around while we drag our heels in finalising EIAs. They then look at other locations outside KZN. Therefore, I am happy to note that this process has been assisted with the co-operation of COGTA. We must ensure that investors are given the kind of service that they require if we are serious about attracting investors.
Regarding the King Shaka International Airport, it is very concerning that, in spite of previous reports by the MEC that negotiations are taking place with international carriers, we still have only Emirates as the major international carrier landing at this airport. I am aware that there are flights to and from some SADC countries, but that is not enough to ensure the viability or sustainability of King Shaka Airport as an international gateway. Lots more needs to be done to attract major carriers to utilise this airport as a point of entry into South Africa.
Madame Speaker, this budget should have made more funds available to combat poaching in our province. In view of the huge area that our reserves cover, the amount allocated is for too little if we are to win the war against rhino poaching. This in an issue that has international attention and we must be seen to be serious in our efforts to stamp out rhino and elephant poaching.
With regard to Environmental Affairs, it is sad to note that communities living in the South Durban Basin live in constant fear and uncertainty. Pollution resulting from chemical leaks, oil spills and explosions at the refineries are the cause of illnesses and people living in fear. This has been going on for far too long now and the department must come up with strategies that will give confidence to the community.
In respect of Ithala, on page 147 it is stated that the KZN Growth Fund Trust is still in the process of being registered as a public entity. This entity became a stand-alone entity in 2013/14 and we need to know why it is taking so long to have it registered as a public entity. This matter should not be allowed to drag on.
I thank you.
Inkosi Mzamo Buthelezi 072 390 6112