Palesa Phili, chief executive of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry NPC Picture: Supplied
Palesa Phili, chief executive of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry NPC Picture: Supplied

Rebuilding the economy after the unrest: Where to from here?

By Time of article published Sep 23, 2021

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Palesa Phili

FOLLOWING the unrest in July and the Covid-19 pandemic, the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry NPC is committed to rebuilding KwaZulu-Natal.

We believe we need to collectively focus on providing immediate relief to businesses that were affected by the unrest. The next step should be geared towards sustainable long-term rebuilding efforts.

Building the KZN economy is a priority and should be based on five key pillars:

1. A safe and secure environment – this is the pillar that will develop the trust.

2. Identification of priority catalytic projects that will stimulate stability and growth quickly.

3. Rapid provision of bulk services, including planning approvals.

4. Infrastructure development budget allocation.

5. Restoring investor confidence.

The five pillars will play a huge role in addressing the key critical areas that need focus to assist with the rebuilding of our business community.

To date, as the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry NPC, we have partnered with key stakeholders to work on several immediate relief initiatives to help restore and rebuild the business environment.

The initiatives include:

  • An insurance task team. The purpose of the task team is to address matters concerning insurance claims related to the civil unrest. Our role is to assist business owners who are insured and having trouble with processing their claims through Sasria.
  • One-on-one coaching. The purpose is to provide one-on-one coaching to members of our business community. This helps with the unpacking of each business’s stress during this time, so they can focus on their business’s priorities.
  • Durban and KZN resource tracker: This is to assist with the connecting of businesspeople to resources and information as and when they happen.
  • Southern African Institute for Business Accountants Partnership. The Durban Chamber has collaborated with SAIBA to help businesses affected by the unrest. SAIBA members have volunteered to help SMMEs. Support also includes the development of a Disaster Management Guide.

As the chamber, together with the city of eThekwini, we helped conduct an analysis of small, medium and micro enterprises affected by the unrest, the key focus being on our SMMEs and the informal sector.

Most of our SMMEs and informal sector businesses do not have additional funding or contingency funding plans in place for business disaster management, unlike most of our corporate businesses.

Several key compliance policies and procedures are lacking in this sector, and the issue of insurance before the unrest was not a factor, as this requires additional monthly funding which is not a guarantee for some of the informal businesses.

As this was our reality in the informal sector, we then put a call out to corporate members to assist our affected SMMEs.

We received positive feedback through corporate committed pledges of resources and skills. Some pledged funding. It was through this drive that one of the businesses that was affected during the unrest, Impindela Omuhle Funerals, was assisted. The business was looted and required assistance to open its doors again.

I am pleased to announce that our corporate counterparts responded to the call and Impindela Omuhle Funerals in Verulam is open for business.

This may be a good story to tell but the truth is there are many more businesses that need help.

We would like to make an appeal once again to corporates who are able to lend a helping hand, to do so.

We would like to express our deepest gratitude to our corporate, private and other stakeholders who are continuously offering their support and assisting affected SMMEs to rebuild during this tough period.

We must ensure that an ungovernable event of this nature never happens again in our country. We must not condone any unlawful criminal behaviour that is aimed at destroying our business community and threatening livelihoods.

The public and private sectors and society need to work together in addressing social ills that are left unattended for lengthy periods and end up reaching boiling point.

The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry NPC encourages business to explore relief mechanisms offered by the various institutions to help rebuild and restore operations.

We remain committed to promoting economic prosperity for our city, province and country.

| Phili is chief executive of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry NPC

THE MERCURY

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