Thursday, 28 January 2016

Minister Zulu splurges R689 000 on UK - France trip

An answer to a Parliamentary question I put to Minister Lindiwe Zulu reveals that she spent nearly R700 000 on a trip to the UK and France in October.

I fail to understand how such an enormous sum was spent unless she stayed in the best hotels, travelled first class and took a whole entourage with her.

I will be following up with another question to get to the bottom of how the money was spent.

This wasteful and fruitless expenditure is against the background of Minister Zulu and her Department crying about lack of budget for their programmes to boost small business development. 

Her response (carried in full below) shows nothing concrete emerged from her trip, which was more a series of talk shops than meetings with a clear set our outcomes. 

The focus on women empowerment is ironic in view of the findings of an SNG strategic review of the Department released in November which is severely critical of the Department's women empowerment initiatives. The review recommends that the SA Women in Entrepreneurship Network be discontinued and that the Directorate for Gender, Youth and People with Disabilities be transferred the Small Enterprise Finance Agency to lower the administrative cost.

Minister Zulu would have been better advised to learn from the UK's successes in boosting early-stage entrepreneurship and stimulating angel investing through its Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme.

She should also take a leaf out of the UK government's book in its approach to enterprise, small business and job creation. The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 is an appropriate model for Minister Zulu to introduce in South Africa as she ponders amendments to the National Small Business Amendment Act of 2003. This act is hopelessly out of date and is in urgent need of a review.

RESPONSE TO PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION 3863

3863.    Mr R W T Chance (DA) to ask the Minister of Small Business Development:

(1)     (a) What was the purpose of her overseas trip in October 2015, (b) which countries did she visit, (c) who did she meet and (d) what were the relevant outcomes of each meeting;

(2)     what was the total cost of the specified trip?                              NW4674E


RESPONSE:

(1)  (a)           The Minister of Small Business Development received an invitation
from the CEO of the Women Forum for Economy and Society, Ms. Jacqueline Franjou, to attend the 11th edition of the Women’s Forum Global Meeting on the Economy and Society in Deauville, France.

The Minister of Small Business Development also received an invitation from Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) to attend and participate in the 11th Session of the South Africa- UK Bilateral Forum in London.

(b)            The Minister of Small Business Development visited France and the United Kingdom in October 2015 respectively.

(c)             In France, the Minister spoke at the 11th edition of the Women’s Forum Global Meeting where the Minister engaged with women from different parts of the world including; Minister’s and Deputy Ministers, high level female entrepreneurs and executives, global thought leaders and think tanks, financiers, and youth innovators, amongst others.

                 In London, the Minister met with Minister’s in the Economic Cluster from the United Kingdom and fellow South African Ministers, (as part of the official Bi-Lateral proceedings).

Minister also met with the UK Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills, Hon Sajid Javid and Ms. Baroness Scotland, Prime Minister Cameron’s Trade Envoy to South Africa.

Minister held a Business Breakfast Dialogue with Members of the South African Business Chamber of Commerce in the United Kingdom.

Minister also spoke at the Chatham House Business Round Table on the important role of SMME’s and Cooperatives in advancing economic growth and development.

(d)                        In France the meeting discussed the important role women play in entrepreneurship, and provided the South African and continental experience and perspectives as it relates to SMME development. Attendees were impressed at South Africa’s experience and strides made to integrate women into the mainstream economy through strong economic policies and institutions. This created an interest for some to consider using these best practices learnt from South Africa.
                
During the bilateral engagement, and as part of the Economic Working Group, discussions centred on the economic partnership between South Africa and the United Kingdom. Both sides agreed to strengthen relations in this regard, with specific focus on increasing the levels of trade and investment, particularly amongst SMME’s in high end productive sectors, such as ICT, services sector and Agro-processing, amongst others. Both sides adopted a Joint Communique which focused on strengthening strategic sectors, increasing as well as creating and strengthening regional value chains.

Both the Meetings with the UK Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills and Prime Minister Cameron’s Trade Envoy to South Africa focussed on strengthening relations between the two countries as it relates to SMME development. The key focus areas included partnership in skills development, and vocational training, particularly in ICT, and Infrastructure Development, amongst other sectors. Discussions also included identifying opportunities for both sides in critical sectors such as; manufacturing and advanced manufacturing, Green Economy, and services sectors amongst other high end productive sectors. Support was also leveraged for the Departments newly launched Centres of Entrepreneurship. In addition, discussions included possible exchanges with Universities and Technical colleagues on entrepreneurship development.

The Business Breakfast Dialogue (as arranged by BrandSA) with the South African Chamber of Business in London focussed on the role of the Department of Small Business Development, including its products on offer for SMME’s and Cooperatives. In addition, it included discussing possible mechanisms of increasing the levels of trade between the two countries, as well as possible support to South African companies operating in the United Kingdom, and those returning to South Africa. Lastly, the meeting focused on the importance of the partnership between government and the private sector in jointly working together to improve the economy as well as contributing to job creation. 

The Chatham House Round-Table focussed on South Africa’s experience in the SMME and Cooperatives space against the background of the establishment of the Department of Small Business Development. Discussions also included garnering support for the implementation of the National Development Plan. In addition, the round table emphasised the importance of the private sector in economic development. South Africa also emphasised the importance of regional integration within the context of creating regional value-chains and increasing intra-African Trade, and thereby advanced support for Agenda 2063. Lastly, both sides noted that we face similar challenges – especially as it relates to SMME development, and agreed that it was important to share experiences to this end.



2.                   The total estimated cost of the trips is approximately R689 600.

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