Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan has called on Cape Town businesses to unite behind initiatives to create jobs and build a more inclusive economy. Speaking at a Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry debate, Gordhan said he was optimistic about the economy, but that much more needed to be done to give hope to unemployed people, especially young people, and to support small businesses.
“I have faith in the people of South Africa. No matter what the colour of our t-shirts, we all want the country to work, and work well,” he said. Referencing former president Nelson Mandela, he said this also meant working for the “child in Khayelitsha and the woman in Bonteheuwel”.
He challenged the local business sector to speak up and become “activist citizens”. In Johannesburg business leaders are funding a plan to give 40 000 young people work experience. “We need brighter, more innovative ideas so that our children can say that this generation did their job and left South Africa a much better place,” he said.
All over the world, now, the question is how to achieve economies that are more inclusive and societies that are less unequal, so that all citizens feel they have a stake. “My challenge for you is to do something that will change the lives of people in your own back yard. Come up with initiatives here that will build bridges in society and the economy.”
Chamber CEO Sid Peimer told CityLife that the debate had aimed to bring the realities of the low-growth economy to its members and business leaders. “Government, civil society and the private sector need to understand that we can no longer view time as an infinite resource, but that there needs to be a sense of urgency. We can’t afford any more ‘own goals’ where actions are taken, particularly at government level, that make our economic predicament even worse.”
He said the Chamber would facilitate the “innovative and entrepreneurial culture” needed for the economy to grow and to change the lives of the millions of unemployed people.
- In 1693 the first houses were built along this stretch of road
- It was initially a sought-after residential area for Dutch settlers but became a commercial street in the nineteenth century
- It was initially called Eerste Berg Dwars Straat (First Mountain Cross street) and was one of the busiest streets
- In 1830 St George’s Cathedral was built and the street was renamed St George’s Street. In 2014 the cathedral was declared a provincial heritage.
- By the end of the nineteenth century the street was home to several newspaper houses and became known as “Cape Town’s Fleet Street”.
- By 1992 the street had become a pedestrian walkway closed to vehicular traffic.
- St George’s Mall houses a piece of the Berlin Wall given to former president Nelson Mandela after he visited Berlin 1996.