KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala. Picture: Gcina Ndwalane
KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala. Picture: Gcina Ndwalane

KZN declares state of disaster after unrest leads to R1.5bn damage

By Sihle Mavuso Time of article published Jul 29, 2021

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Durban - DUE to the magnitude of the economic and human damage caused by the recent civil unrest, the provincial government has since declared a provincial State of Disaster.

The resolution was taken during Wednesday’s provincial cabinet meeting which was chaired by Premier Sihle Zikalala.

In a statement on Thursday, the provincial government said it took the decision after it received a detailed progress report, as most of the organs of state had conducted their preliminary assessments to determine the magnitude of their damages and cost implications.

“The current estimated costs of damages and relief required for the sector departments is R1 534 026 832, whereas the municipal damages require R47 733 460. The interim financial implications is R1 581 760 293.

The Executive Council also noted that the financial implications for the damages and recovery costs were still not final. It was resolved that with the work done so far, the situation was beyond the provincial and municipal capacity to deal with the cost of public riots and unrest as reported.

As such, the Executive Council recommended to submit for classification to the national disaster management centre in terms of section 23(1)(b) of the Disaster Management Act. The declaration of a provincial State of Disaster will support the reprioritisation of budgets to implement the repairs and recovery programmes,” it said.

Furthermore, the provincial government also conveyed it appreciation to President Cyril Ramaphosa, the SANDF and SAPS for their role in securing peace.

On top of the economic damage to the province, lives were lost as over 150 people were declared dead, either during violent looting or as a result of vigilante groups taking the law into their own hands.

Meanwhile, the UN resident coordinator in South Africa, Nardos Bekele-Thomas, said that as with all unequal societies across the globe, the recent civil unrest in the country was caused by poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Bekele-Thomas made these remarks in Durban on Thursday after meeting with the provincial government.

The UN is on a two day (Thursday and Friday) visit in the province to assess the effects of the unrest.

It is also working on peace and economic uplifting programmes, and their work would be in conjunction with the Durban-based African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD).

“Certainly, the socio-economic conditions, inequality, poverty, unemployment in many places elsewhere, around the world, are also causes of such kinds of problems. So what we do is respond to those and we also make sure that the legacies of the past are answered. That’s where the peace-building (is needed), creating social cohesion becomes our priority, in addition to helping the government meet the socio-economic needs of the people.

“ Unemployment is certainly, clearly, one of the causes, and that’s why we say we don’t want (it). It’s not only a South African phenomenon, by the way, it’s all over the world,” Bekele-Thomas said.

During the media briefing Zikalala also said inequality and poverty were the main drivers of the unrest.

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