Emfuleni Local Municipality Executive Mayor, Cllr. Sipho Radebe, yesterday on the 31st of August delivered the State of the Municipality Address (SOMA) in Vereeniging. Mr Radebe said the municipality has an approved investment of R30 billion, but owing to infrastructure challenges, the funds cannot be unlocked until they improve electricity infrastructure.

He said they are working on a plan to unlock projects in a bid to create job opportunities and further stimulate local economic growth. He further said Emfuleni is one of the many distressed municipalities in South Africa that is severely confronted by a combination of developmental challenges and poverty. He said the municipality has over time struggled to generate sufficient income and to create a conducive environment for the desired economic climate to thrive.

He continued by saying Emfuleni local municipality has high levels of poverty and unemployment resulting from a significant decline of our economy in particular steel industry and manufacturing industries. Radebe said in response to the current economic developmental challenges, the Emfuleni Local Municipality jointly with the National Government, Gauteng Provincial Government and Sedibeng District Municipality have established the Vaal Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

 He said the spheres of government have further secured a company to oversee SEZ work, with the primary objective of attracting investment to grow the local economy and create employment opportunities.

Amongst other things, Mr Radebe furthermore said the first SEZ project to be undertaken this financial year is Project Phoenix. He said, “This is the manufacturing of fuel cells. Putting to the market a 50 – 250KW fuel cell systems.” He says the investment value is R750 million in Phase 1, amounting to R2 billion over a five- year period. Radebe believes this project will create 450 manufacturing jobs over five years; this will include 46 young people who will be employed in the initial stage of these projects.

He says these young people were chosen during the Mitochondria stakeholders meeting held at Saul Tsotetsi a few months ago. According to Radebe, the municipality has released about 600 hectors of land to unlock the Vaal SEZ Site (Portions 2 and 3 of Farm Rietspruit 583IQ) in Emfuleni Local Municipality.

Submitted by: Cornelius D. Mofokeng.