The much-touted Township Economic Bill was finally signed into law by the Premier of Gauteng David Makhura on Friday and the Premier has likened the new act to the Obama Care.
“When President Obama was signing the Law called the Obama Care, it included the last section of Americans who were left out of the health care system. This Act includes the last section of township-based businesses that are left out of the mainstream economy. This is our Obama Care for the township economy,” said Makhura speaking in Soweto.
Flanked by Government officials, including Gauteng MEC for economic development Parks Tau, Makhura signed several documents laid-out in front of him to ululating and cheers from those adjacent to him. The move to sign it into law is the first of its kind in South Africa, which is expected to make things 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.
Makhura promised a crowd in Ivory Park last month, while on the Ntirhisano Outreach Programme on the Township Economic Development Bill, that he wants to sign it into law before the month of April ends. “I am just waiting for the Speaker of the Legislature. I told the Speaker I want to sign it into law this month,” the Premier said last month.
Now that it has been made law, the ball is in the Gauteng Government’s court. The new law will help South African entrepreneurs in townships access to government funding. But the mere mention of Government and funding in one sentence rightfully sends chills down the spin of most South Africans, given the entrenched corruption of those with political power.
According to an article on the Gauteng Government website the Act is built on the Township Economic Revitalisation Campaign held between 2015 and 2016, in which SMMEs from over 50 high-density townships were consulted. “Then, township businesses raised their challenges such as lack of access to formal markets, lack of proper commercial districts, land and affordable financial support for business expansion and formalisation.”
The new Act provides a regulatory framework that makes it possible for entrepreneurs living in townships to establish viable and thriving businesses, small enterprises, and co-operatives in a less bureaucratic environment making it easy to climb the economic ladder. It introduces an enabling framework to ensure that township-based retail malls and supermarkets partner with local service providers and manufacturers in sourcing products.
The Act establishes specific procurement rules and programmatic support that allows government and its main contractors to spend a certain percentage of their procurement spend on township-based enterprises or co-operatives.