THIS week we had the opportunity to host the President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa and the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Toyota South Africa Motors Andrew Kirby for the opening of the Corolla Cross Production line in South Africa. President Ramaphosa’s visit to our City, which is best known as Africa’s Playground, comes on the heels of the recently released research data by News24’s Out of Order Index which suggests that the City has surpassed Cape Town’s service delivery performance.
Conducted by one of the country’s biggest media establishments, Media 24 – the findings indicate that of the metros and municipalities studied, eThekwini was leading and had performed better than Cape Town due to its underspending against its budgeted operating expenditure in the 2018/19 financial year. We don’t only attribute this momentous achievement to the multi-prong turnaround strategy that we introduced when we assumed office in 2019, but also to the hard work by all involved – government, civil society, and community structures in turning the tide and propelling our Municipality on an upward trajectory.
Following the recent civil unrest that we witnessed just a few months ago, we have been working to assist businesses that were hard hit. As the City leadership, we engaged with CEOs of Durban-based companies to assure them of the Municipality’s commitment to safeguarding investments by putting the City on an economic recovery path. We pledged to reprioritise the 2021/22 budget to cater to the Socio-Economic Recovery Plan. Part of the immediate intervention was to engage the National Treasury on possible repurposing of grants and additional funding. This was accompanied by our application to the provincial and national government to declare the unrest in eThekwini Municipality as a Disaster Area.
In line with our Socio-Economic Recovery Plan, we expedited the building plans approval process to ensure that the rebuilding of businesses is fast-tracked. Businesses that could no longer operate due to damage to their property were provided with rates relief and those that were operating from Municipal buildings were provided with a rental holiday until they have been repaired or rebuilt. Following these interventions, business leaders also committed to working with us to rebuild businesses and investor confidence.
Also, as part of the City’s Economic Recovery Plan, which is aimed at rebuilding economic activity among the City’s most vulnerable, we launched the Buy Local Campaign. This was to assist rebuild small to medium businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the national lockdown, and the civil unrest.