Cyril to unveil major EC boost

President Cyril Ramaphosa will be in East London today for the official announcement of a major investment that will result in the extension of the Mercedes-Benz East London plant. The direct result will be the creation of more jobs in the city and province.

Presidency spokeswoman Khusela Diko confirmed on Sunday that Ramaphosa would grace the landmark event. It is understood that the extension would also house an academy to help boost skills development for car manufacturers.

“President Ramaphosa has welcomed the invitation to attend the event marking Mercedes-Benz cars’ investment into South Africa’s vehicle manufacturing industry,” said Diko.

The launch – which Mercedes-Benz has described as an exclusive event – will also be attended by the car manufacturer’s divisional board member for production and supply chain, Markus Schäfer.

President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Image: BRIAN WITBOOI / FILE

Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle said the provincial government was elated at yet another milestone by one of the South African economy’s enduring partners, Mercedes-Benz.

“The automotive sector has understood our call for a partnership between the private sector and government in realising not only immediate employment of the unemployed, but to invest in a skills transfer drive in the sector to hopefully serve as a catalyst for entrepreneurial and downstream opportunities in manufacturing and supply of automotive parts and components within the Eastern Cape, the home of the automotive industry in South Africa,” said Masualle.

New investment in productive sectors of the economy is therefore vital to our efforts to reduce poverty and inequality.

Tomorrow’s announcement comes barely a few weeks after the launch of a R1-billion information and communication technology (ICT) company, Yekani Manufacturing, at the East London Industrial Development Zone. Yekani’s world-class, technologically advanced, 28000m² facility will produce cellphones, tablets and laptops, and is expected to create 1000 jobs.

When he took over as president, Ramaphosa announced the creation of a dream team to help attract $100-billion (about R1.3-trillion) in new investment into the country’s economy.

Among the four-member team is former Eastern Cape economic development MEC Mcebisi Jonas, as well as former finance minister Trevor Manuel.

The other two are executive chairwoman of Afropulse Group Phumzile Langeni and chairman of Liberty Group and former CEO of Standard Bank Jacko Maree.

Diko said when Ramaphosa made his State of the Nation (Sona) address in February, he had said the central priority for his government this year would be to encourage significant new investment in our economy.

“New investment in productive sectors of the economy is therefore vital to our efforts to reduce poverty and inequality”.

Masualle said the commitment shown by Mercedes-Benz was a challenge to other leading players in commerce and industry to heed President Ramaphosa’s call to generate R1.3-trillion in foreign direct investment to stimulate economic growth for jobs.

“We also commend the call by President Ramaphosa for the private sector to create employment, learnership and training opportunities to one million youths in the country.

“We are much encouraged by the season of renewed hope for our country since the ANC’s national elective conference in Nasrec last year, which has had a positive impact for South Africa’s economic prospects as the global outlook on our country has shifted from bleak to stable,” added the premier.

Mercedes-Benz spokeswoman Thato Mntambo declined to provide any details about the investment project, saying all would be revealed today.

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