While the traumatic events of the past month slowly make their way into the annals of history, we are left with the question – where to from here?
According to SAPOA, July’s civil unrest will have a R20billion impact on KZN’s GDP and a R50billion impact on the national GDP. Additionally, over 40 000 businesses and 55 000 informal traders were adversely affected, and it is estimated that 150 000 jobs are at risk. This doesn’t even begin to cover the personal and psychological trauma suffered by thousands on and behind the front lines.
RISING OF COMMUNITY TOGETHERNESS
Despite this, what has emerged is a new narrative. In the words of Coretta Scott King, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” These words ring true following this month’s unrest, which saw the coming together of diverse communities on a level never seen before. Whether it was protecting neighbourhoods and infrastructure, mopping up the extreme mess and destruction left by looters or providing essentials to those in need, we are proud to be part of a great community that rose together for the common good.
We would like to thank all our security companies for their dedicated support and commitment, every community member who assisted our security personnel on the ground and those establishments who accommodated our guards and provided food supplies. We are grateful to the peacekeepers, the local SAPS and Metro Police for the role they played during this time. Finally to the many people who dedicated their time through the cold nights and very unpleasant circumstances, we appreciate your commitment and efforts in safeguarding our community.
RENEWED COMMITMENT OF BUSINESS AND THE AUTHORITIES
Importantly, as business leaders and the uMhlanga UIP, we’ve also been given the opportunity to start a new conversation between ourselves and the authorities, one based on mutual respect, the provision of adequate service delivery and creating an enabling environment for the business sectors to drive the economy. This is essential for delivering on the national imperative of job creation, poverty reduction and addressing inequality. eThekwini Municipality has pledged the following interventions:
- Proposed rates rebate for affected property owners and businesses
- Reprioritising the 2021/22 budget to cater for a socio-economic recovery plan
- Engaging national treasury on possible repurposing of grants and additional funding
- Approaching provincial and national government to declare unrest in eThekwini Municipality as a disaster area
- Expediting the building plans approval process to fast track rebuilds
Following last Sunday’s presidential address, the president unveiled a volley of relief measures for the country including the reinstatement of a R350 social relief grant until March 2022, support for uninsured businesses and a R400million contribution to the Solidarity Fund.
We are encouraged to see the commitment of the authorities to support businesses to revive the local economy. The uMhlanga UIP will continue unabated in our efforts to lobby for top notch service delivery to our precinct which is of strategic economic importance.
OUR ONGOING COMMITMENT
Firmly committed to lived innovation, in the next few weeks we will be holding debriefs in each of our precincts and using the collective learnings to compile a comprehensive disaster management plan that will cover the full scope of potential natural and civil disasters.
To answer the question where to from here, in our bid to keep a shining light of hope in this difficult time, we’d like to reassure our members that we are here to stay and to make it work. In the aftermath of July’s civil unrest, it is plain to see that the good far outweighs the bad and that our beautiful province and country is indeed worth championing. We will rise and rise stronger!
Dewet Geldenhuys and the uMhlanga UIP team