August 06 Joint commitment will ensure stability by Mfana Msibi
AS A City, we are continuing to deal with the aftermath of the recent civil unrest in which many people consequently lost their jobs and businesses. We are already building so that they can be back on their feet as soon as possible.
At the same time, we are working closely with the business sector to quantify the economic damage from the looting and destruction of infrastructure. Throughout this tough period, we have been able to conduct frank discussions with the captains of industry. A week ago, we engaged more than 200 CEOs of companies in the City and businesses that were affected by the unrest. We gave them assurance that despite these tragic events, we will continue to protect their investments and create a conducive environment for business to thrive.
Equally, businesses have pledged their commitment to remain in the City as they have commenced with the process of rebuilding. Large companies have also agreed that there must be a concerted effort to invest more in the communities where they operate. This will include sourcing some of the materials used to produce various products from the social enterprises based in surrounding communities. We are confident that such collaborations will create partnerships between communities and business.
Importantly, it will advance our efforts to fast-track radical socio-economic transformation in the City, in line with the pronouncements we have made in our budget policy statement. Our view is that the events of the last three weeks were a strong message to us as leaders that we must transform the economy of this country to serve all its people. The advent of Covid-19 exposed the vast inequalities in the economic landscape of this country. Measures introduced to curb the spread of this virus had a negative impact on many businesses and, unfortunately, many were forced to close shop, resulting in massive job losses.
To mitigate the impact of this devastating pandemic, we were the first Metro in the country to unveil an economic recovery plan which has enabled us to attract over R4 billion of Foreign Direct Investment. This economic recovery plan has also helped us to improve the City’s financial health during this difficult period. It is for this reason that eThekwini was not among the municipalities that were downgraded by the sovereign credit rating agency, Moody’s, recently. This speaks volumes about our ability to collect revenue despite the economic challenges we are facing.
Our task going forward is to ensure that we bring stability to the City and regain trust from investors and law-abiding residents. Working with business, we are putting measures in place to make sure that the looting and violence we witnessed recently will never happen again.