David Makhura. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
David Makhura. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

The Gauteng provincial government will have to be more “aggressive and decisive in pushing its vision to turn the entire province into a single special economic zone, premier David Makhura said on Monday.

Gauteng province is expected to be a crucial battleground in the May elections following the ANC’s dismal performance in the 2016 local government elections. The ruling party lost the key metros of Tshwane and Joburg and narrowly retained the Ekurhuleni metro — courtesy of an alliance with minority parties.

Gauteng is the country’s economic hub and the issue of investment and economic growth and job creation is expected to  take centre stage in the election.

Delivering his last state of the province address before the general elections in May, Makhura said: “Our dream is to grow Gauteng, step by step, into a single special economic zone. As a city region, we are already a compact and highly integrated single economy.”

Investors are attracted to special economic zones by a range of incentives, including reduced corporate tax rates and state-of-the-art infrastructure. These zones are a central pillar of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s stimulus package. 

Makhura said the province will this year complete and officially open the OR Tambo Industrial Development Zone. Other special economic zones will follow in Tshwane, Sedibeng and West Rand as part of the province’s re-industrialisation agenda.

Makhura said that according to the latest data from FDI Intelligence, Gauteng has attracted R199bn in foreign direct investment in five years and this has created 30,000 jobs.

“The scale and impact of what we are doing with our industry leaders in the priority sectors of our provincial economy is incomparable. But we need greater co-ordination and collaboration within the Gauteng city region, if we are to maximise the impact,” Makhura said.

He said all social partners, especially labour, have to be brought on board.  

He also said R40bn in investments will be announced in Gauteng’s various corridors later this year.

Another sensitive topic expected to dominate the election is e-tolls.

Makhura said while the user-pay principle was not in question, there was a clear recognition that urban tolling increased the cost of living and was therefore unsustainable.

“Proceeding from this consensus, 22 government teams are hard at work to find a solution to the e-tolls,” Makhura said.

He said President Cyril Ramaphosa reassured him again that the resolution of e-tolls was one of the issues that was receiving his urgent national attention.

Correction: February 19 2019

In an earlier version of this story, we stated that the local government elections took place last year, they were held in 2016.