Overstrand Executive Mayor, Dr Annelie Rabie, welcomed over 120 delegates to the Overstrand Investment Conference in Hermanus yesterday, 23 June 2022.
She expressed her excitement to showcase what the Municipality has to offer to investors, business people and estate agents.
The investment conference is part of the Council’s three C’s of objectives or strategic interventions and include Communication, Crime Prevention & Law Enforcement and Cost and Ease of doing business with Overstrand. The Cost and Ease of doing business with the Municipality resonates under Mayco Member of Investment and Infrastructure, Councillor Clinton Lerm.
“An event of this calibre is a great opportunity to exchange learnings and experiences with each other. If you are planning to invest in the Overstrand, it is important that you understand the good, the bad and the ugly,” said Mayor Rabie.
The Mayor briefly touched on the subjects of unemployment, GDP growth potential and the importance of political stability and the knock-on effect that actions and events have on bordering municipalities, viz Theewaterskloof, Swellendam and Cape Agulhas, that form part of the Overberg district.
“Unless we have political stability, there will not be economic investment, and therefore there won’t be job creation to sustain the community of Overstrand”.
Currently, the economic growth in the Overstrand municipal area is supported by the top two performing sectors i.e wholesale and retail trade, catering and accommodation that provide 27% of employment and the finance, insurance, real estate and business services that come to 17% of employment.
Mayor Rabie did not beat around the bush when she said her Council will not tolerate inter-racial intolerance. People must know that Overstrand for All means that everyone who wants to make a living here, and everyone that wants to contribute to the economy in the area, is welcome.
“It is in this vein that this conference wishes to expose and to entice you to invest in land that the Municipality currently owns and which we hope to develop to assist us in driving the unemployment figures down and to deal with the very aging infrastructure that we have in certain areas. It is also important to look very seriously at our social housing requirement”.
“We cannot continue to live in the Overstand as if it is a retirement village or a very nice seaside resort. But”, she said, “in the same vein, we have to respect the investment many people made in the Overstrand.”
With that (or this?) in mind, the Overstrand Municipality has a strong view in developing and investing in the Blue Economy and alternative energy. The Agricultural, Forestry and Fishing sectors only contribute to 5.2% of the GDP and 11% of employment and there is scope to grow.
Mayor Rabie then addressed the issue of whose responsibility it is to create jobs. “This is not a Zero-sum game. Job creation is not the job of the Municipality - nevertheless, we have a collective responsibility if we want to grow the economy. Our job is to provide for an enabling environment by creating work opportunities to ensure that the refuse gets removed, that there is a proper sewerage system, that you have water and electricity. The challenge is the provision of energy beyond Eskom. She confirmed the Western Cape Government’s commitment to be less dependent on Eskom.
She advised investors to do their homework by reading the Integrated Development Plan (IDP), studying the Spatial Development Framework (SDF) and the Water Management Plan, as well as the Budget, so that they are aware of what is going on in the Overstrand Municipality. “Once you have invested here and you live in Rooi-els or Pringle Bay, I don’t want an e-mail asking to remove the baboons; the same applies to Hermanus, so that you cannot say you didn’t know about Schulphoek.”
In addition, she ensured delegates that Overstrand Municipality is financially stable, which means that there are enough reserves to cover all operational expenditure for at least four months, regardless whether the municipality receives grants from provincial or national government or not. Further proof is the previous nine consecutive clean audits that the Municipality received.
Mayor Rabie also paid tribute to all the previous councils, municipal managers and municipal officials, “because you don’t just ‘suddenly’ create a financially stable environment. It follows after years of hard word by people who are equally committed to make the Overstrand work.
The Mayor concluded by saying that she and her team believes in an active and open civil society. “You can talk to us and you can visit us – but don’t’ try to bribe our officials or take shortcuts; we will not allow it. Have respect for the Municipality’s processes and procedures and from our side, we will ensure your applications are dealt with speedily and swiftly.
The second day of the conference concluded with site visits to the various pockets of land.