DURBAN - ETHEKWINI Municipality has tabled plans that it hopes will help the city recover from the economic and social devastation brought on by the violence, unrest and looting two weeks ago.
Part of the plan could include declaring the riots a disaster to get assistance from the provincial and national government, which would allow it to re-purpose its grants for the recovery process.
The plans include finding ways to assist SMMEs to rebuild, improving safety and preparedness for such events and reviewing the use of private security guards to protect municipal property.
Opposition parties said the municipality should do everything it could to save businesses and give incentives to business people to stay in the city and rebuild.
The municipality said the damage was extensive and the recovery could take a long time.
“It should be noted that several municipal premises that were being leased to SMMEs were also damaged with very little likelihood that those businesses had the requisite insurance.”
It said the preliminary estimates show that owing to the loss of some R15 billion in property value, the impact on rates (from mainly commercial and industrial properties) would be around R300 million.
“This would mean that the municipality will have to adjust its expenditure to account for the drop in municipal revenues,” said the report.
The economy not being operational during the week of the unrest, said the report, resulted in a drop in the sale of utilities, with its consequent impact on municipal revenues, estimated at close to R1 billion.
The unrest also resulted in some municipal offices being damaged, affecting revenue collection.
The report highlighted concerns, including that the delayed response to the unrest needed to be investigated, and a more comprehensive response plan had to be put together to ensure that there was a swift response in the event that unrest recurred.
“It is clear that the municipality needs to review the security arrangements provided by private security (securing council property), the security department and metro police. It is noted that metro police are recruiting an additional 200 personnel, which will strengthen its resources that are deployed.
“The DCM (Disaster Management Centre) Community and Emergency Services will be undertaking a comprehensive review of its safety plan and will be making recommendations to council soon. This would also entail the role of community safety plans and securing major hazard installations,” it said.
The report said these events necessitated the development of a comprehensive social cohesion plan.
As part of the recovery process, the municipality will be engaging with the National Treasury to explore repurposing its grants to meet unbudgeted urgent repairs.
DA councillor Nicole Graham said the city should give incentives to entice business people to rebuild. “The challenge now is to keep the people who are here in the city, we don’t want them to move abroad or to the Western Cape, we need to keep them here.”
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said in providing assistance to the affected businesses, the city should not just focus on big businesses – there were many businesses in township areas that were affected and would need to be assisted.