Leading up to the 2019 national elections the Democratic Alliance (DA) seeks to disrupt the ANC‘s obsession with big business and policies that favour them, through utilising a campaign which encourages entrepreneurship as well as Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs).
This was revealed by DA party leader Mmusi Maimane, Johannesburg executive mayor Herman Mashaba and Gauteng premiere candidate Solly Msimanga as they went on a campaign trail which saw them engage with members of the Diepsloot community on Friday.
In an effort to demonstrate progress made regarding one of the city’s recent initiatives – the roll out of opportunity centres - Mashaba hosted Maimane and Solly together with community members at community centre Tlhabologo.
With the focus on the youth, promoting entrepreneurship as well as SMMEs, Maimane said economic growth was important and that more needed to be done to ensure it happened.
“This obsession with big businesses is an obsession the ANC has created. We [DA] are obsessed with making sure that the micro-enterprises take off.” he said.
According to Maimane, under the current government, the economy has only been growing at a rate of about 0.7%.
“Our aim is to bring growth and to help small businesses through initiatives such as this opportunity centre. We must allow economic activity to take place. We can achieve this through entrepreneurs and micro enterprise, and this centre is a place people can come to, use its services and find work or make work,” Maimane said.
Echoing these sentiments, Mashaba said economic growth was the party’s first priority and more ways needed to be explored to achieve this successfully.
“We need a diverse economy that essentially creates jobs. And we have identified small businesses as a way of doing this. Today we see shops being owned by everyone else except South Africans so we have got to get our people [South Africans] back into the entrepreneurial spirit,” he said.
According to Mashaba the centres are based on a model set to uplift the profile of emerging entrepreneurs, allowing them to benefit extensively from the services offered.
The centres also assist individuals with a number of business-related queries including establishing a business and how to efficiently run it, internet access and tender applications.
Maimane added that the DA initiative had done a lot for the people in the community.
“As the DA in this election we have shown that where we govern, jobs are created, we have a plan to create work, we want to create small businesses and that is why we have these opportunity centres. Election year is about employment and access to jobs for all South Africans,” he said.
DA premiere candidate Solly Msimanga at Tlhabologo Opportunity Centre Picture: Palesa Dlamini
Tshwane mayor Msimanga said that the current government should not be bragging about the number of jobs it has created.
“We should be bragging about how many opportunities have been given to young people and to people who have created jobs for others. It should be about how many businesses and entrepreneurs we have created that have created jobs for others,” he said.
For Msimanga it was essential that South African citizens were able to live under their own rules.
“This government has created a dependent state because it is always reminding people about ‘the grant you will get if you vote for us.’ We shouldn’t be boasting about giving people grants, we should be boasting about how many people are coming out of the social dependency and doing it on their own,” he said.
He also added that the ANC had run out of ideas.
“They take our ideas and policies and make them their own,” he said.
Although recognised by the people of Diepsloot, the opposition party’s efforts were marred by scepticism as community members said that the centre would not work successfully or achieve the desired results.
According to community members, the efficiency of the ward will be hindered because of the DA run initiative in a ANC led ward of the area.
Phillemon Magongwa, who has been a resident of the township for 22 years, told City Press that nepotism and favouritism were evident when it came to those who could use or work at the centre.
“The centre can work. The problem is that there seems to be some type of monopoly within this centre. There are people who given preference to use the centre over others. This centre is meant to assist community members with skills development, but once those who work here [the centre] recognise you as a DA member you are sidelined. If a programme you are interested in has nothing to do with the ANC, you don’t get assisted,” he said.
Tension was evident when the opposition party was accused of ignoring protocol when it failed to inform Diepsloot’s Ward 95 councillor Kate Mphahlele from the ANC of their visit to the centre prior to the event.
Arriving at the centre Mphahlele argued that Mashaba was meant to inform her before inviting people to the centre. She did, however, say that community members were always welcome.
According to Mashaba, the city plans to build a total of seven centres by the end of June this year.
The three to follow will be built in Ivory Park, Randburg and Alexandra.