UN pledges R20m to KZN’s unrest recovery
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Durban - The UN has pledged more than R20 million in financial support to KwaZulu-Natal in efforts to rebuild and redevelop sectors of its economy and society that were affected by the civil unrest in July this year.
The UN’s resident coordinator and head of the UN in South Africa, Nardos Bhekele-Thomas, said on Wednesday that the funds would be used to support programmes geared towards the development of education, social cohesion and gender-based violence shelters in KZN.
Bhekele-Thomas and the KZN provincial government, under the leadership of Premier Sihle Zikalala, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the International Convention Centre in Durban.
The UN representative said the R20m was an initial pledge to the province.
She called on members of the private sector that were present at the signing, to match their funding towards the project.
The MOU comes off the back of just over a week-long civil unrest that engulfed KZN and parts of Gauteng following the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma in July. The riots claimed more than 300 lives in KZN and caused damages amounting to billions, shrinking the province’s gross domestic product.
More than 40 000 businesses were affected and more than 1.5 million people were left without an income due to the unrest, according to the Durban Chamber of Commerce.
“The intentions of the support that we wish to provide through this MOU complements ongoing efforts of the provincial government while ensuring we avoid duplication of efforts,” Bhekele-Thomas said.
“To demonstrate our commitment to the emergency response plan, as the UN in South Africa, we are committing more than R20m as catalytic resources to support the implementation of this programme.”
Zikalala said that among the various pillars that made up the MOU, inclusive growth and job creation had been dubbed a priority. Efforts to rebuild were divided into immediate, medium and long term goals following a visit by Bhekele-Thomas to the province in July, just after the unrest,.
Zikalala said the UN partnership was critical towards the provincial government’s goal of enduring peace and advancing sustainable development.
“We appreciate that the UN has pledged its support to the Provincial Government of KwaZulu-Natal to assist in rebuilding affected communities and to address the underlying causes of the complex developmental landscape in the province.
“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’,” Zikalala said.