Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic) Deputy Minister, Nomalungelo Gina, has commended a KwaZulu-Natal company for being a shining example in local procurement.
Gina praised Bata, an Escourt based shoe-manufacturing company in Loskop, during her visit on Thursday.
Her visit to Bata was part of the department’s national Siyahlola Programme, which Gina has been leading in KwaZulu-Natal since Monday when she visited the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone.
The purpose of the programme is to assess progress made in the implementation of the Special Economic Zones Programme, Revitalisation of Industrial Parks Programme, and the sector-specific Master Plans that are part of the re-imagined national industrial development strategy.
Bata Managing Director, Michael Wyatt, told Gina that the South African chapter of the international company produces four million and 100% South African made pairs of shoes. These shoes are made at the Loskop manufacturing factory per year. The shoes are then distributed across six African countries.
The company, which established its presence in South Africa in 1983, provides employment to more than 500 people at the Loskop factory.
Gina heard that more than 90% of Bata employees are women, and that the company is also in a partnership with five businesses that are producing exclusively for it.
Bata has received financial support of over R65 million from the incentives schemes of the dtic over a period of 10 years.
Wyatt said the support has enabled the company to buy machinery, improve safety at the factory, expand production and increase its staff complement.
Wyatt also noted that the company was able to avoid retrenchments by using the COVID-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme, loans, short time and shift work to keep all the company’s staff employed.
To this end, Wyatt indicated that the company has initiated a new project that will see Bata extending its export footprint to countries as far as East Africa.
Gina said Bata is a perfect example of what government wants to see throughout the country, which is local procurement and localisation.
“Manufacturing of Proudly South African products, with 100% of all inputs being sourced or produced inside the country is one of the things that government believes will contribute immensely in growing the economy, creating jobs, increasing exports, empowering small and medium businesses and eradicating poverty.
“We are aware that many companies have had to cease production due to the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the country’s economy.
“The fact that you managed to continue with production, even though you had to adjust by implementing short-time and shift work, is commendable. We, together with your employees, are happy that no jobs were lost in the company as a result of COVID-19,” the Deputy Minister said.
Gina said Bata is well-positioned to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA), as the company is already exporting products to countries in the Southern African Development Community region.
“The AfCTA will open unlimited opportunities for companies like Bata. We are happy that you are already a foot ahead in terms of [operating] meaningfully in the African market. We encourage other companies to identify opportunities that will also enable them to expand their market,” Gina said.
Gina’s visit in KZN will end with a visit to a women-owned clothing and textile company in eMsinga on Friday.