THERE is a direct link between the economic conditions and social ills. As such, in eThekwini we are focused on improving the economic status of all our people in order to sustainably eradicate challenges such as unemployment, inequality and poverty.
The reality we face is that people are migrating from rural areas to urban areas in search of better economic opportunities and high quality of life. As a City, we therefore need to up the pace of service delivery in line with migration patterns, rate or urbanisation and population growth. Some experts believe that high population growth could have numerous advantages such as greater domestic market, a stimulating investment in knowledge and attracting investors and multinational companies in areas that previously lacked them.
But it also comes with challenges and if left unchecked, population growth could have severe socio–economic consequences. According to the World Bank, the number of people residing in Sub-Saharan Africa has risen to about one billion over the past 60 years and this number is expected to almost triple to 2.7 billion in the year 2060. It becomes abundantly clear that in the South African context where close to half of the youth population is unemployed, that there is a need to ensure the creation of cities that respond to the urgent challenges of skills and economic development.
However, poverty, unemployment and inequality is also found in cities with inward migration in search of work. Therefore those migrating to cities in search of a better quality of life, often find themselves facing the same challenges they had initially hoped to escape. This has become one of the greatest challenges faced by government worldwide and policy makers. It is for this reason that eThekwini Municipality has ensured that the economic empowerment of its communities is priorities.
With the recent introduction of the eThekwini Radical Economic Transformation Framework, we want to demonstrate that the City’s leadership is committed to accelerating service delivery, providing economic opportunities to poor and unemployed residents and growing the small business sector. Through this framework, there is an opportunity for businesses to assist in addressing socio-economic challenges in the City. It is encouraging to see that despite the negative perceptions and some challenges we have endured as the Municipality, the business community recognises our efforts to grow the economy, which will translate to a high quality of life for our ratepayers.
AS THE leadership of this City, we recently convened the Mayoral Lekgotla. The objectives of the meeting were to provide strategic guidance on key programmes of action that will drive radical socio-economic transformation in our City for the next five years. Our plans are guided by the National and Provincial priorities of our government.
During our first session which was held on 18 and 19 March, we dealt with a range of topical issues which pertain to service delivery in our Municipality. In the 2016 Local Government Elections Manifesto, we committed ourselves to building on the achievements already made in the delivery of basic services. However, the rising urban population has put pressure on our resources and capability to deliver services to meet the ever growing needs of the community.
We need to rise above this challenge by ensuring that our programmes directly address the challenges we are facing and that we invest in areas that will make the greatest impact. We remain committed to ensuring the delivery of water and sanitation services while dealing with the impact of the severe drought we are facing. We will continue to expand the electrification programme as well as ensure environmentally friendly energy sources.
We are also committed to building healthy, safe, clean and active communities through a number of programmes that will bring about a high quality of life in line with our 2030 vision to become the most caring and liveable City in Africa. One of our focus areas is to work towards reducing the high levels of tuberculosis infections in our City. Plans are afoot that will ensure the successful implementation of catalytic projects that will not only change the face our City, but bring about development in underdeveloped communities.
We will also be fast tracking the delivery of houses. We will continue to invest in initiatives that must be prioritised for youth development linked to job creation, skills development and the establishment of sustainable youth enterprises. These principles will be used as the cornerstone of our Youth Development Policy. We are also committed to increasing the level of public participation in our processes. In the coming weeks we will be going out to communities to consult them on the Municipality’s Integrated Development Plan and Budget for the 2017/2018 financial year. This process is important because it ensures that our service delivery programmes directly speak to the expectations of our community.
THE month of March is dedicated to the fight for human rights and this year’s celebration coincides with the 20th anniversary of the adoption of South Africa’s world acclaimed Constitution. As we celebrate 20 Years of the Constitution which also coincides with the year of President O.R. Tambo, a visionary leader, who made significant contribution which led to the process of the adoption of the Constitution.
The adoption of our Constitution in 1996 formed part of our healing process from the brutality displayed during the Sharpville Massacre. It is one of the reasons that the African National Congress, during the drafting of this constitution placed emphasis on the need for Chapter 2, which will be dedicated to the Bill of Rights which is the cornerstone of our democracy. It is in the Constitution where the rights of all people in our country are enshrined and it also affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom.
These were the rights that were ignored by the previous apartheid and colonial governments. As we celebrate Human Rights month, we must emphasise on the need for respect of human life. The recent attacks and killings in uMlazi and that of a policeman in eFolweni must be strongly condemned by all who respect humanity. We must never allow criminals to steal our hard won freedom.
Communities must reclaim their streets from criminals, as we cannot continue to live in fear. However, this does not mean that we must take law into our hands. We must work with the police and community structures to root out crime in our communities. We welcome the announcement made by our Premier Willies Mchunu on the commission on Political Killings in KwaZulu-Natal during the State of the Province Address. We have lost a large number of councillors in this province and region and we hope that this will assist us in finding lasting solutions.
We also welcome the statements made by Premier Mchunu which placed emphasis on radical economic transformation and land redistribution. The issue of land is an emotional one and continues to be one of the areas that deserve a more radical approach to meet the desired outcomes. We also welcome the clear programme of “Operation Vula” which is in line with our radical economic plan.
National government’s budget for the fiscal year 2017/18 was delivered on 22 February outlining how the public purse will be efficiently managed as well as outlining the framework for the next three years.
Key to the budget speech was the call for radical transformation and inclusive growth across the country. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said we have to radically transform our economy so that we have a more diversified economy, with more jobs and inclusivity in ownership and participation. He said in the year ahead the focus must be on inclusive growth and a transformation action plan. Bold and ethical leadership is needed from all sectors of society.
EThekwini Municipality readily supports this call and aims to achieve this transformation through the Radical Economic Transformation Framework. A Business Summit where the framework was unpacked and details provided on how exactly it will accelerate economic transformation to improve the lives of eThekwini residents was held on the same day as the Budget Speech.
The framework, which was well received by all present at the Summit, will address areas of slow service delivery, the disruption of projects in communities and the slow pace of economic transformation caused by lack of meaningful participation in the mainstream economy. It will also give clear direction on the inclusion of citizens in catalytic projects executed by the City that are taking place at a ward level.
Minister Gordhan further stated in his speech that economic transformation will not be achieved through conflict or extortion nor by reproducing the racial domination that was the hallmark of apartheid nationalism. But that this transformation will be built through economic participation, partnerships and mobilisation of all capacities. It is a transformation that must unite, not divide South Africans.
It must be noted that special mention was made in the Budget Speech about eThekwini’s Cornubia mixed development node that will yield 25 000 housing units as well as the over R13 billion in private sector investment in the nearby Dube Trade Port. It also mentioned the R30 billion inner City regeneration programme which is underway in the City which aims to attract business back to the inner City.
AS the sphere of government closest to the people, eThekwini Municipality is committed to the empowerment of Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME) to accelerate their growth. Access to high-quality, innovative business support can dramatically improve the success rate of new business ventures.
Our Municipality works with different stakeholders to promote the growth of businesses which will result in a growing economy. Our government is serious about radical economic transformation especially in the SMME sector. That is the focus in all spheres of government especially at local government level which is the first line of contact with citizens. Local government is about changing the lives of ordinary people, as the sphere that is closest to them. Our City is guided by the objectives set out by provincial and national government to ensure that the collective vision of creating a vibrant and prosperous small business sector is realised.
Accelerating economic transformation among youth and women is our top priority. Therefore, the City is moving ahead with the implementation of a radical economic transformation policy framework that will give opportunities to youth, women, disabled, military veterans and rural communities. On 31 January, Council approved the Framework Policy on Economic Empowerment and Transformation and this will ensure that there is radical economic transformation in our City.
This policy will ensure that people who have been previously disadvantaged are given job opportunities in the City. Our mandate is to bring about real change in our communities, by improving the quality of life of all people through radical economic transformation. Since we were elected in August, we have prioritised job creation, youth empowerment, small business support and community empowerment and we will continue to drive economic development for the next five years.
The level of poverty, rate of service delivery, disruption of projects in communities and the slow pace of economic transformation has always been a major concern for us. We want to advance the empowerment of our people, particularly youth, women and the disabled by ensuring that they are brought into the mainstream economy.
THE 2017 school year started on a tragic note following the death of five learners in an accident in Ntuzuma en route to school on the first day of school. Three learners were laid to rest on 21 January. We as local government visited the families to express our condolences on the tragic loss of life.
We also visited the injured children who were recuperating well in hospital. The safety of children is paramount and we urge parents to utilise safe scholar transport. We must ensure that there is no further loss of life on our roads. Education is a powerful tool and we encourage all children to continue to work hard and achieve good results.
The Municipality, with the assistance from our sponsors, hosted the 2017 Mayor’s Matric Awards ceremony on 25 January where top performing pupils were honoured for their hard work in the 2016 National Senior Certificate examinations. The top 10 learners from disadvantaged schools and the top 10 learners in eThekwini were honoured. We hope others are inspired when they see the rewards of working hard.
We also acknowledged the 30 schools in eThekwini that received a 100 percent pass rate. The efforts of teachers and principals throughout the year have not gone unnoticed. The Municipality has set aside R4.7 million to assist students through the Mayoral Relief Fund. Through the EThekwini Municipal Academy and have a number of internships and learnerships available in the City. We have to invest in our youth as they are the future leaders of our country.
Service delivery programme
We are six months into the 2016/17 financial year, and the Municipality is hard at work to ensure that service delivery reaches all 3.7 million residents. To-date 2566 new housing units have been built and will soon reach the annual target set of 5000 units. The City has implemented 2051 new water connections.
Thousands of families have benefited from eThekwini Municipality’s informal settlement electrification project. Seven informal settlements have been electrified in recent months. A further 8140 households have been connected to either prepaid or metered electricity. We will continue to manage the public purse in a prudent and sustainable way. Accelerating economic transformation among youth and women is our top priority.
THE development of young people, women in particular is a major priority in eThekwini Municipality and our skills development approach is geared towards enhancing the participation of women in decision making positions. Women play a vital role in contributing to the mainstream economy and this must be celebrated. Women occupying leadership positions in the country has been a long standing view of the ruling party under the leadership of the late anti-apartheid revolutionary Oliver Tambo.
The first female Minister of Foreign Affairs under the African National Congress administration was Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the first female Minister of Intelligence was Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, who is currently the Minister of Human Settlements. More importantly the current Minister of Defence and Military Veterans is a female. This demonstrates that women are more than ready and capable to lead in all aspects of society.
The Municipality’s Women Empowerment Programme aims to raise the profile of women in business while continuously striving to address their business needs through the implementation of key capacity building interventions which includes mentorship and training. Since its inception in 2006 and because of its success, the programme has now become an annual event.
The main purpose of this programme is to create networking opportunities and a platform for meaningful engagements on various opportunities and challenges faced by women entrepreneurs. The programme also aims to expand the understanding of women’s economic contributions to the City as well as the hurdles that prevent them from being successful. These include lack of funding, poor access to markets and insufficient information on how to access opportunities. We must not shy away from these challenges but we should create an enabling environment for women to break the glass ceiling and make an impact in politics, corporate business and in their communities.
EThekwini will ensure that women are empowered from a very young age so that they have the necessary skills to position themselves for opportunities. The guiding principles for addressing the issue of gender imbalance in our City is the South African National Policy Framework for Women Empowerment and Gender Equality (2000). Key issues relating to gender imbalance include developing programmes that would enhance access to economic development, improve women’s earning power and increase participation of women in policy development.
Women and children are the vulnerable in society and need to be cared for and protected. As the eThekwini Municipality leadership, we support the 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children campaign.
This is a wonderful campaign that sets aside 16 days each year, from 25 November to 10 December, for society to evaluate their treatment of women and children. However, we should protect the rights of women and children 365 days a year. The theme of this year’s campaign is “Count me in: together moving a non-violent South Africa forward”.
This theme is fitting, as government cannot end this scourge alone. It takes personal responsibility from residents to stand up against abuse of women and children. If you know of someone who is being abused, verbally, emotionally or physically, stand up and help. True heroes are those who do not turn a blind eye to another’s suffering.
There are many ways for ordinary South Africans to get involved. I urge you to do so to ensure this awareness campaign is a resounding success. Not just from the awareness created during this time, but from the tangible difference being made in victims’ lives. It is important for them to know they are not alone and that help is available. We as society must work together collectively, to ensure a violence free society.
As the third tier of government, local government is the closet to people and the social wellbeing of residents is a priority to us. To commemorate the 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children, this year eThekwini Municipality will host a number of events throughout the campaign.
There is a launch being held in the South at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital in Umlazi on 25 November simultaneously with an event to educate the public at Gugu Dlamini Park in the Durban Central Business District. Meanwhile at the KwaMashu Fan Park in the North, there will be an event for residents today aimed at addressing social ills such as abuse and violence. A dialogue is planned for 26 November at Salem Hall in Shongweni in the West to talk around the campaign.
A march is planned on 29 November, from King Cetshwayo Park to Gugu Dlamini Park to raise awareness against the killing of people with albinism, and violence against women, children and the lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex community. On November 30, another educational event will be held at Thandolwethu Community Centre, Ntuzuma E. We must speak out against abuse and reignite the spirit of Ubuntu in our society, because as people we need each other and we must protect one another, especially those that are vulnerable.
RECENTLY the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Sihle Zikalala made a bold statement calling for drastic transformation in the property development and construction sector. He said for too long emerging black and African property developers have been “frozen out” and that transformation in this sector has been lagging behind.
His sentiments are true and I fully support the call for the property development market to be more inclusive particularly for emerging black and African property developers. Transformation in this sector is vital. I therefore call on established property developers and those in the construction industry to actively be part of transformation in this regard.
However, I must add that I am pleased that work is being done to address this inequality presently. The Municipality is implementing key high impact projects worth billions of rands. These projects, also referred to as catalytic projects, are set to create thousands of investment and employment opportunities in our City. One of the objectives of our catalytic projects is to facilitate the long-term empowerment and active participation of black and African people, in particular, in the property development industry.
The amended Property Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Sector Code which tackles transformation in the property development industry headon, will soon be gazetted by the Department of Public Works. The preamble of the code states that the property sector commits itself to the implementation of transformation within the sector. It further states that this commitment was made noting that despite significant progress since the establishment of a democratic government in 1994, the property sector remains characterised by racially based income and social services inequalities.
This is not only unjust but inhibits South Africa’s ability to achieve its full economic potential. Closer to home, eThekwini is dedicated to providing much needed assistance to those emerging in the property development and construction fields.
Presently the City has a number of opportunities available for emerging developers to engage in. And we will continue to have meaningful engagements with them, lending support where necessary especially for those working hard to break into the industry. We are ready and willing to help create a more enabling and conducive environment for black and African emerging property developers.
WHEN the new leadership was elected in August, I made a commitment that this Council will serve the 3.7 million residents of eThekwini with honour. Therefore, all efforts are being made to ensure that service delivery is not hampered.
I recently requested that a report be compiled, listing the financial implications for the City of Municipal employees who have been suspended with full pay. The report will contain the cost for the City as well as progress of each case. I want to ensure that these unresolved cases do not affect service delivery. This report will paint a clear picture of what is happening in the City. I urge the relevant officials to resolve these issues because they can affect service delivery if they remain unresolved.
This Council will continue to improve people’s lives through accelerating service delivery, economic growth, job creation, social and rural development. Secondly, we must be clear about our strategy to drive real economic transformation in our City. The best way we can achieve this goal is by ensuring economic beneficiation from our procurement processes. We must adopt a more deliberate approach on BBBEE procurement, as well as identify new and innovative ways of empowering Youth and Women owned businesses.
Public funds are in good hands
It is good news indeed that eThekwini Municipality has R6 716 million invested at financial institutions, earning an average rate of return of 7.89 percent. Fixed investments for the City stands at R6.5 million of which R1.5 million matured in October. This means that the Municipality is managing public funds diligently and in a manner that will benefit residents.
The Municipality is at the end of the First Quarter and all clusters should submit a detailed performance report to assess the City’s service delivery track record. I implore Executive Committee Members to provide active oversight in their clusters. All Executive Committee Members will soon be signing their Performance Agreements, to ensure alignment with the legislative branch of Council, the administration and the Executive.