David Makhura Champions Township Economic Development Bill
The Bill was passed late last month in the Gauteng Legislature and has been welcomed by many as a step in the right direction by Gauteng Government. The province’s Premier, David Makhura has been travelling to different parts of the province unpacking the Bill. Yesterday the Premier was in Diepsloot where he said the Bill will give access to land and funding to aspirant entrepreneurs. “When you’re a township business – a business run by a young person – and when this business is given funding, it can operate very well. So, we also established the Township Economic Development Partnership Fund,” said Makhura.
When signed-into law, the Bill which is the first of its kind in the country will make it easier for businesses to operate in the township without needing to apply for things such as permits and bylaws which see Metro Police harassing street vendors for trading. The Premier was in the outskirts of Tembisa in Ivory Park last Friday where said he’d like to sign the Bill into law this month. “I am just waiting for the Speaker of the Legislature. I told the Speaker I want to sign it into law this month,” said Makhura speaking to the Ivory Park community.
This was during Makhura’s Ntirhisano Outreach Programme on the Township Economic Development Bill. “We want to create an ecosystem that will help small businesses in the townships, local businesses in the township. We know that when people apply for permits, the local municipality takes time to respond and then you’re forced to operate illegally because you applied but they didn’t respond to your application. Sometimes those who oversee the permits, use this as an opportunity for corruption. Small businesses, you’re not supposed to pay for a permit!” said Makhura, who got loud cheers from the audience.
In his opinion piece in Daily Maverick earlier this month Parks Tau, who is Gauteng MEC for economic development wrote glowingly about the benefits of the Bill. “The bill will bring townships closer to mainstream economic opportunities, close the disconnected urban and peri-urban class divides, and promote convergence between the formal and informal economies,” wrote Tau.
“The tabling and passing by a majority of political party support of the Township Economic Development Bill last week at the Gauteng legislature is a game changer to progressively change the economic geography of townships and informal settlements. Since these geographic spaces comprise settlements for the majority population, it is sensible that public legislation and policies should be focused on their material development.”
The Bill is great, as our Constitution is, yet the trick our government horribly miss is the fair and correct implementation of their policies. This Bill will be signed into law soon and only time will tell if it positively impacts those on the ground.