KZN economy back on its feet, Premier

Thursday, February 29, 2024

KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, says despite various challenges, including  floods that hit the province, the provincial economy is back on its feet.

The province is gradually addressing the damage which is estimated in the region of R33 billion.

“At times, we felt we were on the verge of collapse while at other times we felt we could touch the sky. The circumstances around the sixth administration tested our steely resolve and we chose to soldier on,” Dube-Ncube said as she delivered the State of the Province Address (SOPA) at the Oval Cricket Stadium in Pietermaritzburg.

The Premier said following the destructive floods in April 2022 and the July 2021 civil unrest, government implemented a package of recovery programmes to rebuild a number of infrastructure, including shopping malls and factories, which were torched or looted.

She said the South African Special Risk Insurance Association (SASRIA) has spent over R20 billion rebuilding shopping malls and businesses affected by the social unrest, with more than R2 billion spent on rebuilding economic infrastructure damaged by the floods, resulting in over 192 000 jobs being saved. 

“The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) relief measures implemented through the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) Critical Infrastructure Reconstruction Programme, saw a total of 118 applications from affected businesses approved with a value of R1.9 billion.

“The IDC further partnered with the province in allocating R30 million support to SMMEs [Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise], township and rural businesses affected by the civil unrest. IDC allocated R10 million to support the informal businesses that were impacted by the floods of 2022,” Dube-Ncube said on Wednesday.

Furthermore, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs allocated R67 million towards flood relief for businesses affected by the 2022 and 2023 floods.

The Premier also acknowledged President Cyril Ramaphosa for visiting Richards Bay in November 2023. The President visited the Port of Richards Bay to assess the state of the port and efforts underway to address congestion.

Following the President’s oversight visit to the port, Dube-Ncube said the province has witnessed a significant decrease in road truck traffic leading to the Port of Richards Bay as congestion decreased. 

The Premier attributed this to a collective achievement to the introduction of the Truck Management Strategy, championed by the Ports Authority.

“At the Port of Durban, after having received word on the introduction of the container surcharge by shipping lines because of the container backlog in our ports, we are delighted to report that the number of vessels at anchorage has reduced from more than 60 ships in mid-November, to just 12 ships at the end of January 2024. 

“We recognise, with appreciation to the role played by the industry, as well as local businesses in ensuring our ports are held accountable and deliver on their intended mandate of facilitating international trade.”

Dube-Ncube also highlighted that the provincial government is strengthening its support for businesses, by ensuring that enterprises doing business with government are paid on time. 

She said a province-wide programme, Operation Pay on Time, assists with resolving payment queries from suppliers that do business with government. 

“From April 2023 alone, the total number of cases and queries received is 288. Of this number 216 were resolved with a value of R281 million paid to suppliers,” she said. –