South African President Jacob Zuma has launched the much-anticipated Maluti-a-Phofung Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the town of Tshiame in the Free State Province to demonstrate his government’s promotion of industrial development.“This launch and the development of the Maluti-a-Phofung SEZ demonstrates our promotion of industrial development which is key to the nation’s long-term economic success and prosperity,” Zuma said on Tuesday.
Noting that South Africa was making strides to change the way its economy is currently structured. Zuma said: “Our current reliance on exporting minerals and other raw materials to other countries is a sure recipe for an economy that enriches the few at the expense of the majority.
“This, of course, will just deepen the already high levels of inequality in our society.”
The launch of the SEZ has brought the tally of Special Economic Zones in the country to eight. SEZs are geographically designated areas of a country that are set aside for specifically targeted economic activities.
According to South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, the country’s SEZs have collectively attracted over US$730 million worth of investment, creating over 10,000 direct jobs and 65,000 indirect jobs.
The site of the Free State SEZ was once an apartheid-era industrial park that was established to provide access to cheap black labour.
Concurring with Davies, Zuma added that the apartheid era industrial parks were introduced not so much because of economic potential but merely to sustain the apartheid system of “separate development.”