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Limpopo Special Economic Zones are expected to create 21,000 jobs

Limpopo Prime Minister Stan Mathabatha hopes setting up special economic zones (SEZs) will save the province
economy, which is currently plagued by massive job losses, poverty and underdevelopment.

When the projects got off the ground, the SEZs, he said, were expected to create 21,000 jobs for unemployed youth, adults, women and people with disabilities.

Mathabatha said in his State of the Province Address (Sopa) last week that more than R500 million had been set aside for the SEZs in Musina and Makhado in Limpopo.

“The project’s production, agro-processing and logistics hubs are finally getting off the ground. We are well on the way to transforming the Musina-Makhado corridor into a melting pot of industrial activity,” said Mathabatha.

He said the SEZs had embraced the goal of net zero carbon emissions by introducing green solar energy. He said in December last year that the Musina-Makhado SEZ has been awarded an investment commitment for the first phase of the power generation project in the form of a multi-billion megawatt 1,000 megawatt solar power plant to support the metallurgical complex.

“In a similar vein, we have made significant progress in securing water resources for the SEZ,” Mathabatha said.

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“This includes agreements with Zimbabwe and other member states of the South African Development Community for the water supply in the zones.

“We are also excited to partner with the Vhembe Technical and Vocational Education and Training College to build its Musina satellite campus within the SEZ. The partnership will contribute significantly to the empowerment of young people in technical and vocational training.”

He added that progress with the designation of Fetakgomo-Tubatse SEZ was also well advanced.

“Already 21 companies with the potential to invest R45 billion and create more than 8,000 jobs have expressed interest. The first phase, covering 316 hectares, will integrate the expansion of a pre-existing industrial hub focused on building a mining input supplier area,” added Mathabatha.

But according to the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Mathabatha was just talk, not action. The party said it had made promises about job creation in the SEZs for the past three years with nothing tangible for it.

“Since 2019, you have been reporting investment figures on the Makhado-Musina SEZ,” said EFF chairman at the Limpopo provincial legislature, Jossey Buthane.

“You said the project would create more than 21,000 jobs with an investment of R150 billion. Tell me, how many jobs have been created since then?”

Jacques Smalle, chairman of the Democratic Alliance caucus and member of the provincial legislature, said SEZs of this size are highly dependent on excellent road and rail infrastructure and stable electricity and water supplies.

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