Massive failures in industrial policy led to 320,000 manufacturing job losses – Prof David Kaplan

The figures in Professor David Kaplan’s review of South Africa’s Industrial Policy tells the story of the Government’s failed Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP). It was supposed to create 350,000 manufacturing jobs by 2020, but instead there has been a loss of 320,000 jobs since 2008. It would be easy to say; who can compete with the Asian tigers and China in particular when it comes to manufacturing? The competitiveness of China is certainly a factor in limiting growth in any country’s manufacturing industry, but Prof Kaplan points out that the declining intensity has been more pronounced in South African manufacturing than in other emerging markets. Sending troops into Cape Town’s townships where gangs have made a misery of people’s lives on the Flats, has highlighted the effect that the loss of manufacturing jobs could have on communities. In a recent interview, Moeletsi Mbeki pointed out that the gang violence on the Cape Flats is a direct result of the loss of jobs in the textile industry in the areas. Prof Kaplan is calling for a total review of the country’s industrial policy and the three manufacturing sectors targeted by the government for growth. He does not only criticise; he comes up with a concrete proposal on how to address the problem of losing jobs in the manufacturing sector. This includes creating an Export Processing Zone (EPZ) at Coega in Nelson Mandela Bay. – Linda van Tilburg