X AND Y // Tsietsi Mokhele

Unlocking Economic Opportunities    

Tsietsi Mokhele, also known as the Commander, is the CEO of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). SAMSA was established in 1998 in terms of the South African Maritime Safety Authority Act 5 of 1998 and is a South African government institution, accountable to the Minister of Transport. 


The operation aims to fast-track goals laid out in the National Development Plan. The sectors that government hopes to develop include marine transport and manufacturing, offshore oil and gas exploration and aquaculture. Commander Mokhele, who helped develop the maritime strategy under Operation Phakisa, says he would like to see the private sector take better advantage of commercialisation and industrialisation opportunities.

Commander Mokhele held the position since 2008 on an initial five-year contract which was later extended.

“I am staying in the maritime industry to mobilise our industry to make sure it takes advantage of the opportunities under Operation Phakisa,” he says. He believes companies have been slow to pursue greater industrialisation in the sector. “The state is leading where the private sector should be leading,” says Mokhele.

 plan for more local ship-building to carry more South African goods. But he says it was another attempt by government to demonstrate that it has a role in the economy. “More government intervention even though it may seem that government is doing something, often has the unintended effect of slowing things down,” Commander Mokhele says. “Are there no other ways of achieving the same objectives with less state involvement?” State participation, he says, is more important in the protection of the ocean environment from the shipping industry.

The Commander is largely acknowledged to be the driving force behind to give the maritime industry more prominence at government level. He is passionate about what he calls the “10th Province” and his efforts to highlight its importance to the president. “Having driven the maritime policy and administration leadership agenda and the strategic lobby for positioning maritime as a new economic growth potential for South Africa and the continent, we are not gaining traction on mobilising private sector for greater leadership and higher levels of investment,” he adds. 


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