The clothing and textile sector of South Africa has come to life again as the industry has taken advantage of the incentives offered by the Government, South African President Jacob Zuma has said.
Addressing the 12th National Congress of the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU), held under the theme ‘Unity, Cohesion and radical transformation for sustainable growth and decent work’, the President said conditions have much improved for the country’s textile and clothing sector.
“The industry came under tremendous pressure at the turn of the century and saw wholesale closures of manufacturing companies both in the textiles and garment manufacturing sectors,” Mr. Zuma said.
The South African market was flooded with cheap imports from the Far East, and the situation was further aggravated by the influx of illegal imports which were known for ridiculously low prices due to under-invoicing, he added.
He said research undertaken during the period highlighted that South African textile and clothing sector was not globally competitive, and there had been no investment in new technology and human capital development.
Further, there were no succession plans in place in most companies, and factories were closing down, workers were losing jobs, creating a difficult situation. At such a time, the Government, through the Department of Trade and Industry, working with labour, made a few interventions, he added.
“Clothing and Textiles Competitiveness Programme was established in 2009 to stabilize employment and to improve overall competitiveness in the textiles and clothing sectors.”
Another critical intervention was the designation of the textiles, clothing, leather and footwear sectors for local procurement, which was done through the new Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act in December 2011.
“This new policy stated categorically that all Government tenders for the sector must stipulate that the local content and manufacturing of products in textiles, clothing, leather and footwear be sourced locally. The Department of Trade and Industry is required to supporting letters confirming the non-availability of those raw materials before a company can source abroad,” Mr. Zuma stated.
This policy has resulted in more and more Government Tenders being awarded to bidders who utilize locally manufactured goods with maximum local raw material content, the President said.