The eThekwini Municipality says it is prepared to revive the economy of the city that has been affected by COVID-19. Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda has formally launched the eThekwini Economic Council to drive programmes aimed at promoting the economy and creating jobs. The council consists of different sectors of society.
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the economy negatively. During the second quarter of 2020, South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) showed a 51% annualised decrease. At a micro level, the operation of municipalities has also been affected.
In light of this, the eThekwini Municipality is in the process of reviving its economy.
“The eThekwini ECC is an important platform to social partnership and consensus building among key stakeholders as we seek to build a resilient economy. (The) kind of resilience we are talking about is an economy that will be inclusive, that won’t be entertaining the entry through racial standing and those who are disadvantaged should be welcomed to partake in the mainstream economy. It is an economy that will resist the temptations, where others think that to get a business opportunity you meet the mayor at the hotel and make a deal,” says Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda.
Kaunda says the municipality will also implement programmes to fast track manufacturing in the city.
“Firstly, increasing manufacturing capacity of local industries, there is a dire need to ensure that we reach out to communities where they are in deep rural areas and in the township so that we become an industrial city. You cannot be boasting with a port but you are not producing. Therefore we need to enhance our manufacturing capacity in our city.”
He says the focus on infrastructure reform programmes will also help capacitate small businesses.
“A minimum of 30% of the city’s procurement spend must be utilised to establish sustainable social stability. To introduce an infrastructure social reform will help to drive the emerging contractor development programmes. There must be deliberate programmes from this city for the emerging contractors to give the necessary support so that they start to develop the local capacity we are looking for.”
Role of academics
Member of the council and lecturer at the Durban University of Technology, Professor Sbusiso Moyo, calls on academics to play a significant role in skills development.
“As academia, we have a big role to play. I believe that we will come with solutions that will allow the population to have access to information, skills that are available and scientific literacy.”
eThekwini Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer, Palisa Phiri, says she believes that a partnership between the city and its business community is a strong way forward.
“The business community is the one that creates jobs, not the government. So, government, working together with us, will make sure that we grow the economy of the city. We do believe that the business community and the municipality will rise above the competing interests and unite in the creating of those needed jobs.”