With the City of Durban seemingly reaching the ceiling, the City of uMhlathuze (Richards Bay-Empangeni) is poised to be the next city of opportunities and economic growth in KwaZulu-Natal.
That is the view of Xolani Ngwezi, the mayor of the latter. He says they have the potential to do so, provided the opportunity is well seized.
However, Ngwezi says that in order for the northern KZN city to grow, it must look after its small businesses and create a conducive environment for them to grow.
Ngwezi said this on Friday in Empangeni, where the municipality was handing over grant-in-aid equipment to 252 small businesses mainly based in townships of the municipality.
Ngwezi said studies have shown that small and informal businesses contribute to economic growth, hence, they decided to take the initiative to uplift these small businesses.
He added that these are legitimate and viable businesses, as their owners did not present wild business ideas. Instead, they were identified while already operating, and the municipality stepped in to help them grow.
According to Ngwezi, all the giant businesses dominating South Africa's corporate landscape at the moment were once small businesses until authorities helped them grow.
The businesses that were helped are in agriculture, informal trading and other small sectors found in townships.
“eThekwini is now fully developed, we can all see that, as there is no longer room for development. The next city that has the opportunity to grow and match Durban is ours, but to do that we need to look after our small businesses and help them to grow to become economic giants. It is for that reason we came up with the idea to help these businesses of our areas to grow, we have an obligation to uplift them,” Ngwezi said.
Ngwezi added that the reason they also chose to help young farmers was because the sector is poised to produce the next billionaires.
“The agricultural sector is huge and our next billionaires will come from it. Remember that we all need food as the population grows. So, this is an important sector to look after it,” Ngwezi added.
Coming to the stability of the coalition government leading the City of uMhlathuze, Ngwezi said what has made it one of the most stable in the country was that the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), the Democratic Alliance (DA), and their other coalition partners like the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) were committed to serving their people.
Ngwezi then encouraged the youth to go out and register to vote during next year’s general elections, likening these elections to 1994.