KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development and Environmental Affairs, MEC Ravi Pillay, says township and rural economy should also be prioritised to stimulate the province’s economic growth.
Almost 80 percent of businesses in these areas were affected by the recent sporadic unrest and looting.
Addressing various business stakeholders at the Dube Trade Port in Durban, Pillay said all spheres of the province’s economy need to be revived and promoted.
The provincial government and private companies joined forces to come up with strategies to promote economic growth.
Preliminary reports indicate that the cost of the destruction is estimated at over R20 billion.
“I have to make a point that the capable state is a critical part of the economic recovery and international investors say look let the domestic investors take the lead and we will follow. Let the domestic investors say and act in a way that show that they have confidence and are prepared to put the money where the mouth is,” says Pillay.
Massmart chairperson, Kuseni Dlamini, says whilst the looting caused a strain on their businesses they’ll be able to re-open most of them.
“Our view is that most of our damaged stores can be re-instated and open quickly and indeed we have re-opened some of them. We continue to support and retain our staff while we rebuild our stores and facilities. Together with Wallmart Foundation, we have set aside R13 million to acquire tons of food to support the people of KZN.”
Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal together with relevant stakeholders have established the Township and Reconstruction Strategy which will prioritise businesses in townships.
“The informal traders have been hardest hit but what we are looking now is how we can extend our focus on that economy through packages of developing a small industry hub in the township. So far, roughly about R20 to R50 billion and the number includes the loss in terms of infrastructure that was destroyed or gutted, loss of stock and loss of time during that period,” says CEO Neville Matjie.
Small business owners are also positive that the government relief funds set aside to help them will make a huge difference.
“We are positive that the government will do its best in supporting us as small businesses and we are happy as they have set aside a certain budget to support us. We need experienced employees and expertise in the business, so funding is needed from the government in order to employ more people with experience,” says Director of Cool Kids Clothing Stores, Ntokozo Motloung.
Ithala Bank is one of the financial institutions that has committed to help resuscitate affected small businesses.
Ithala Bank spokesperson, Tozi Mthethwa, “We are working closely with both national and provincial government to protect various businesses in a form of funding and involvement of communities to secure businesses. There are many businesses that are at risk so people cannot go back and operate and people are facing being jobless. 16 out 21 shopping centres that are owned by Ithala were destroyed, so it is our priority to support the urgent rebuilding of the centres and trade.”
Many of the business organisations who were also part of the engagement say none of their staff will be laid-off from work following the devastation.