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The government is considering freeing up its special economic zones (SEZ) programme to encourage greater private sector participation. It’s not a moment too soon, according to critics, who say the programme has overburdened the fiscus and has underdelivered, especially in terms of job creation.

According to the department of trade, industry & competition (DTIC), about 145 firms have invested about R20bn across SA’s 11 SEZs, creating 15,301 direct jobs. The government has spent another R20bn in building world-class SEZ infrastructure over the past 20 years, which makes the programme extremely expensive in terms of the number of jobs created...

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