Stakeholders in the footwear and leather sector have committed themselves to transferring skills and rebuilding capacity.
The commitment emanated from two site visits by the Trade, Industry and Competition Deputy Minister Nomalungelo Gina at Planets Events Shoes and Neptun Boot, in KwaZulu-Natal, on April 22.
Stakeholders committed and agreed to promote localisation, sourcing and buying local materials, transferring skills and working towards removing red tape that will hinder the future of the sector.
Gina said the ease of doing business locally must be prioritised so that it is easier for investors to view the sector as lucrative.
“If we do not support and manufacture our products in the country, we have nothing to offer to our neighbours and the rest of the world. We need to mobilise the whole sector and have a frank conversation about steps that need to be taken to revive and rebuild the sector to make it even more lucrative like it was in the past,” she said.
According to Gina, introspection must start with government and all agencies that are responsible for setting standards and verification.
She also committed to tackling red tape issues raised by the sector.
South African Footwear and Leather Export Council executive director Narisha Jairaj, meanwhile, said the council has over 200 members of which 86% are black economic empowerment and previously disadvantaged individual companies that are fully transformed from board to staff and suppliers.
“We hope to engage other government departments to find common ground for the best use of resources for maximum benefit to small business. And also, to work towards eradicating the red tape that still impacts our sector in a negative way,” said Jairaj, who pleaded with government to give due attention to the handbag and leather goods sector which "has suffered great calamity" as a result of Covid-19.