RECENT disruptions to economic activity in KZN was the topic under discussion at a closed working meeting on Friday between business and government.
The meeting was chaired by Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Willies Mchunu ,accompanied by several MECs, the Mayor of eThekwini, Zandile Gumede, and attended by heads of organised business formations in Durban and across the province.
The meeting was the initiative of organised business in response to concerns raised by the business community which included the N3 Mooi River toll gate truck torchings and disruption of smooth flow of traffic which affected a number of sectors including tourism with serious immediate financial losses, violence and damage to public property at the Moses Mabhida Stadium with devastating results for the tourism and investment sectors of Durban and KZN, construction site invasions, extortions and rising tensions in townships between local and refugee traders, a mosque attack in Verulam, political killings over the course of the past two years and blockades at the Durban Port which compromised businesses throughout the country.
Opening the meeting, the Premier emphasised the need for government and businesses to work together to defeat the disruptions and killings.
“The forging of a working relationship between government and business is essentially aimed at maintaining our status as a province that is a gateway to Africa and the world as enshrined in our 2035 vision. We understand the concerns of our people may emanate from a position of hunger and inter-generational poverty accompanied by deep hopelessness, but we wish to emphasise that we will not condone the breaking of our laws,” said Mchunu.
President of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and industry, Musa Makhunga, said business had no option but to make the call on government to see how organised business could play a role in solving the current challenges. “Several chambers across the province have united over this issue and we are working closely together, understanding that chambers must be merchants of peace in order to facilitate an environment in which economic growth happens and poverty, unemployment and inequality are alleviated,” he said.
Leaders of organised business, the newly appointed Head of Metro Police, Steve Middleton, and MECs for Community Safety and Liaison, Mxolisi Kaunda, and COGTA, Nomusa Dube Ncube, were among those who made valuable inputs to the discussions.
Following the closed working meeting, Zeph Ndlovu, President of the South African Chambers of Commerce and Industry and board member of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry emerged hopeful.
“It was a constructive dialogue. Chief among the achievements of this meeting is the ground-breaking decision to establish a joint task team that will be resourced by both business and government. There is unity in the message going forward that law and order must be promoted, that the principles of community engagement must be in line with capacitating real communities in need and not individuals masquerading as community representatives,” said Ndlovu.
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