KZN business welcomes electoral outcomes, hails co-operative atmosphere

KZN – South Africa’s second-largest economy – experienced more inclement weather this week. Picture: Timothy Bernard

KZN – South Africa’s second-largest economy – experienced more inclement weather this week. Picture: Timothy Bernard

Published Jun 5, 2024


Business in KwaZulu-Natal welcomed the outcomes of the recent national and provincial elections, saying the ballots were “peaceful and most of all reflected the wishes of the people” to have a government from different political parties that would put South Africa first and the political parties’ agendas second.

Since KZN is prone to violent looting and truck attacks, there was fear that civil unrest might erupt in the province since there were widespread unconfirmed reports of vote rigging on social media, with the leading political party in the province, the uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MK Party), not accepting the results.

However, the KwaZulu-Natal Growth Coalition (KZNGC), a public-private partnership, yesterday said it was critical that the country create the right atmosphere of camaraderie and co-operation as was the case in 1994.

KZNGC co-ordinator Andrzej Kiepiela said business will meet shortly this week and analyse the election results further.

Kiepiela said they will then come up with a suggestion of how to promote new co-operation within both the national and provincial governments.

“We have no doubt that there will be some changes within the municipal structures also. A proper engagement, consultation and proper strategy development will follow thereafter as we will have proper official engagement between the corporates in KZN and the government at different levels,” Kiepiela said.

“After all, KZNGC is public-private co-operation that needs all to work. We have enjoyed co-operation in the past and we hope to develop a new and fruitful relationship with both governments nationally and provincially.”

Kiepiela added that business was looking towards a government that would create the right environment to conduct business that will look at the infrastructure, the investment climate for both national and international investors and that will also recognise that the Constitution was the light that should give the country direction.

“Obviously we are a democracy and in a democracy all voices must be respected,” he said.

According to Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN), the province boasted the the second-largest economy in the country.

“It contributes some 16% towards the country’s GDP. Manufacturing, trade, business services and transport communications are the largest and strongest growth sectors of the provincial economy, together with aluminium conversion, fabricated products, automotive components, conversion (emphasis on export-oriented investment), electronics, engineering, metal works, petrochemicals and wood products.”

TIKZN said the province offered a highly competitive advantage in capital-intensive manufacturing, transport, storage and communications, as well as finance and business services.

It is also well positioned in agriculture, forestry and fishing, agricultural resource-intensive manufacturing and in the tourism and accommodation sectors, it says.

Economic activity is concentrated in the metropolitan areas of Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Richards Bay, with the coastal belts utilised for sugar cane plantations and subtropical fruit and vegetables.

Two of Africa's primary seaports are located in KZN, while the world-class Dube TradePort – home to King Shaka International Airport – provides a key competitive advantage and ensure the province's importance for economic grow, according to TIKZN.

The province has also seen several challenges that impacted its economic and social well-being. These included the Covid-19 pandemic, the July 2021 civil unrest and most recently, the catastrophic floods in April 2022.

Just this week, a tornado tore through oThongathi, north of Durban, leaving behind a trail of destruction.

KZNGC co-chairperson and business executive Moses Tembe said South Africa needed to go back to the 1994 kind of government of national unity structure.

“The different parties must forge values-based partnerships and build around common goals that take the country forward. Humility is one of such much-needed value right now as we begin talks,” Tembe said.