This is the second in a series of views on the establishment of the Western Cape’s recently-announced Economic Development Partnership.
Firstly the establishment of the Economic Development Partnership is a huge opportunity for the people of the Western Cape to tackle the challenges of sustainable economic growth and job creation in a new and innovative way.
The Provincial and City government has committed wholeheartedly to the full and transparent participation in this process which they have agreed to put in the hands of an independent body to spearhead in the interest of the Province and all its people. This is a big and unusual leap of faith on the part of the politicians and for this reason, among many others; we must ensure that this non-partisan body works effectively to deliver the results that we all expect. It is important that we maintain the non-partisan nature of the partnership so that we ensure the free participation of the widest possible membership.
Secondly the Economic Development Partnership provides the space within which different players can work collaboratively to achieve the broader goal of providing a better life for all without it being necessary for any partner to forsake his or her organizational beliefs and traditions. The partnership will have to remain resolute about not allowing petty organizational rivalry to interfere with the achievement of the targets set by the partnership.
The only measure that the partnership should use to determine if a programme should be pursued or not is whether such a programme will improve the economy, advance job creation and benefit the people of the Western Cape generally.
The Economic Development Partnership is about collaboration, cooperation, a common agenda for economic growth and job creation, providing leadership and ultimately joint action from members. If we can achieve this in our province then we would not only have ensured a better economic future for ourselves but we would also have changed the culture of cooperation within our society.
Only the naïve among us will believe that this is an easy task that could be achieved in the short term by a few people sitting in smoke filled rooms in some fancy hotel. While this is a very important opportunity provided to the people of the Western Cape we must not underestimate the enormity of this demanding task that will require great wisdom, patience and tenacity. In order that we may have the best chance of success we must collectively ensure that we nominate and elect to the Board of the EDP the smartest people in this Province. The smartest people are those who are innovative, creative, systems thinkers, team players, consensus seekers, collaborators and persons who understand the economy and the people of the Western Cape.
I am very excited about this opportunity and realise the enormous responsibility we will be asking the first Board of the EDP to shoulder. However, if every organisation, structure and group in the Western Cape supports the members of the Board of the EDP then at least they will be encouraged to tackle this task with vigor and enthusiasm.
By Prof Brian Figaji
- Retired Vice Chancellor of Peninsula Technikon
- Recently retired as a non Executive Director of Nedbank
- Retired non Executive Director of the DBSA
- Currently Chairman of I&J Ltd
- Currently Chairman of the South African National commission for UNESCO
- Serves on a number of NGOs