The province of KwaZulu-Natal and the UN in South Africa yesterday signed a R20 million memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre to help the province restore provincial businesses that were impacted by the recent unrest in the province.
KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala said the partnership was critical for the provincial efforts of building enduring peace and advancing sustainable development.
Zikalala said he was particularly moved by the UN addressing contemporary developmental challenges unique to the province and creating an action plan.
He said the UN MoU was one of the outcomes of engagements that took place when the UN-led delegation visited KZN in late July after the the unrest.
“They interacted with affected communities and stakeholders and discussed the potential support that the UN could contribute to ongoing response efforts.
“The mission consisted of various meetings with the provincial leadership, the political and administrative leadership of eThekwini Metro, the Executive Management Team of the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (Accord) and visits to the sites impacted by the civil unrest.
“The engagements identified areas in which the UN could provide support to the KZN government in the immediate, medium and long term to recover and build back. As we strengthen our law enforcement and put in place plans to mitigate future occurrences, we also agree that we need to get to the root causes of anti-social behaviour in KwaZulu-Natal and indeed in our country. In this regard, we share the sentiment by the UN Resident Co-ordinator that people need a stake in the economy because then they will protect it, not destroy it.”
The premier added that emerging research on global peace indicated that the Covid-19 pandemic was fuelling tensions across the globe and creating new challenges.
He said that the agreement supported its Provincial Growth and Development Strategy Plan, and the Medium-Term Strategic Framework which were aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Co-operation Framework 2020-2025 co-led by the government and the UN.
Zikalala said the province had undertaken initiatives that would be carried out through the Emergency Response Plan, and the Implementation Framework. It would focus on inclusive growth and job creation, building human capital, transformative governance, and would also address climate resilience and the sustainable use of natural resources.
“We have no doubt that our partnership with the UN and all its entities will enable KZN to maximise mutual benefits for our residents and citizens. On my part as co-chair of the Provincial Steering Committee with the UN Resident Co-ordinator, I commit to ensure that the spirit and intent of the MoU is translated into tangible benefits that will promote sustainable development, heal our people, unite them, and restore their dignity.”
Speaking at the event, Nardos Bekele-Thomas, resident co-ordinator of the UN in South Africa, said the global body had a long-standing relationship with the provincial government and felt it was prudent to step in and restore business value and create investment opportunities for the province.
Bekele-Thomas said the funding would include a national fund of R10 million for education restoration, nationally R7m would be spent on community radio stations to assist the local governments to reach the public on their initiatives, and an exclusive R2m fund would be for KZN to address initiatives that address gender-based violence.
“This initiative marks the next stage in the relationship that the UN has had with KZN and the government. We are pained as Africans ourselves that after 27 years people in the country still have inequality. The unrest not only caused a loss of lives, but it also divided communities that had been living in harmony.
“The unrest is an opportunity and clear sign that change is upon us. It will happen on the streets if it is not addressed,” said Bekele-Thomas.