KZN government says it has prioritised stability, economy and factors that resulted in the anarchy
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Durban - THE provincial government has revealed during an exclusive interview with the Daily News that it was working around the clock to bring about stability in the KwaZulu-Natal economy, and was addressing factors that resulted in the anarchy which saw shops being looted and vandalised.
“Our first priority is to bring about peace. More than 2 954 people have been arrested in connection with looting and destruction of property and also instigation of violence,” said Premier Sihle Zikalala.
He added that they needed to ensure that perpetrators were arrested and brought to book. Zikalala said ensuring stability in the economy would enable job creation.
“The second priority is to deal with causal factors that led to the anarchy. In particular, unemployment and poverty.”
The Premier said KZN was battling with issues of unemployment dating back from 2012, which was as a result of the 2008 economic decline.
“In our case as the government, we have to ensure that we engage in programmes that will address poverty and unemployment. The elements that talk to the rural and township economy and also supporting SMMEs.The plan is there and we are moving ahead to implement the plan.”
He said the challenges came at a time when the “economy is skewed in favour of the few, in particular white and indians - to a certain extent.”
“In 2012, we discussed the issue around the second phase of transition. The black industrialist programme was introduced. To date, we have 35 black industrialist beneficiaries, and 4 000 more jobs from this project.”
The provincial government had equally supported similar programmes for the youth.
“Two hundred and twenty eight farmers in KZN have been supported with tractors, fertilisers, seeds and logistics to get the produce to the market.”
They had also established agricultural hubs in uMhlathuze, uMfolozi, eThekwini and Ilembe.
“As announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, we do have immediate poverty relief interventions in the form of social grants, pension funds from employers, the rent deferral and tax holidays for businesses,” he explained.
Ithala Bank, said Zikalala, was offering loans as an intervention for struggling businesses.
“We are looking at sectors that can generate quick employment for the low skilled people, especially the agricultural sector. This is done through a mechanisation process supporting farmers, while creating more jobs.”
He said a war room was established to deal with issues of unemployment and to attract investors to the province’s special economies.
“Activities at the Dube Tradeport are a result - employment has been created. We are also looking into doing the same with Richards Bay. We are working hard to grow the economy. As you would notice in our industrial parks such as KwaSithebe, Ladysmith and Newcastle.”
He said the special economies in Ladysmith and Newcastle will be dedicated to clothing and textile, while at the same time expanding in the automobile industry in Durban.
“We are packaging infrastructure development in which some of the projects are already in phase one of what the president has announced. We have also earmarked projects that can create employment.”
He said they were also expanding the export strategy.
“We will also address a political issue, which was a grievance around the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma.”
Zikalala expressed serious concern about the violence allegedly perpetrated by Indian communities against Africans during the unrest.
“In Phoenix we have 38 deaths, in Chatsworth, we have 13 people who were killed and in Northdale, Pietermaritzburg, we have four. This shows that there is a racial tension.”
He added that these issues needed to be addressed in a legal manner that would also bring unity to all South Africans.
He said they had a responsibility to ensure that perpetrators were arrested and brought to book.
The provincial government was working with relevant structures to bring about social cohesion in the province.
“We are engaging with communities to bring them together, so that we are able to address these challenges and ensure that there is integration.”
The premier also added that they were currently looking at submissions for communities who have called for the commission of inquiry in order to determine if there was a need for one.
While some in the national government have referred to the anarchy as an attempted coup, Zikalala said understanding causal factors was necessary, since a coup could be started by anything that talks of dissatisfaction, and then escalates.
“We already have these two challenges and then the spike comes in protest, and then you ask whether it was an insurrection or a coup.The reality is that your October revolution in Russia started over a complaint around bread. Had the anarchy continued, it would have resulted in a coup.”