eThekwini mayor sets out economic plans — and warns land invaders
eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda has warned that invading land while in lockdown will not be tolerated.
“It would be remiss of me if I do not sound a warning to those who continue to take advantage of the lockdown by invading land and erecting illegal structures. The president has asked all of us to limit our movements to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and, as the city, we are not going to allow lawlessness during this period,” Kaunda said.
He called on citizens of Durban to alert the city should people invade land.
Kaunda described Covid-19 and lockdown as having a catastrophic effect on the city's economy.
“About 320,000 jobs will be at risk as the lockdown continues. Our research indicates that by the end of the lockdown, our economy will have declined by 4%-6%. It is important to note that Durban's economy constitutes about 10% of the country’s GDP,” he said.
He said the hardest-hit sectors were construction, manufacturing, tourism, retail, trade, finance and transport.
The city has developed an economic recovery plan to respond to the Covid-19 downturn, looking to safeguard jobs, monitor city income and the health of the economy, facilitating its share of national government support, supporting tourism and industrialisation programmes, and accelerating radical socio-economic transformation. The plan also sought to support the township and informal economy, construction, infrastructure and investment projects, and delivery of the socio-economic fund benefits.
Kaunda said the city would be driving a co-ordinated plan to fight the damage Covid-19 had on the local tourism and industrial economy.
“Our plan entails, among other things, linking affected industry players with the various funds announced by the national government, including the R200m tourism relief fund and the solidarity fund.
“We will also ensure that the municipality's own accommodation bookings will now be directed to small businesses like bed and breakfasts. Our Durban Film Office will provide incentives for production houses to shoot their films in Durban,” he added.
The city will also boost the rural, township and informal economy, which Kaunda says is at risk of shedding more than 207,000 jobs. “We will help all informal enterprises who could not access the R2bn made available by the national government.”
In an effort to get more funding to support the local economic recovery and social interventions for the vulnerable, the municipality has established a Covid-19 support fund.
This fund is expected to support business recovery where the national support measures have not been able to help small businesses. It aims to create sustainable jobs and stimulate small businesses.
Kaunda said: “We want to reiterate that the fund is not intended to duplicate national support measures but rather to provide assistance in instances where the support measures have not been adequate or to fund socio-economic projects and activities that are local and will protect the poor, while creating jobs.”
He said the fund would receive its initial government funding from the eThekwini municipality, through R40m of savings identified across the departments and clusters.
The business sector, non-governmental organisations, donor agencies, national and provincial governments and business entities will be approached for additional funding.