KwaZulu-Natal is rising from the ashes. This is the message delivered by Premier Sihle Zikalala as he took stock of the impact of the widespread civil unrest in July last year, as well as progress in rebuilding after the looting, arson and violence.
The government put the damage’s cost at R50 billion. The violence which ensued in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng is still visible in many areas.
Civil unrest erupted immediately after the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma after he defied an order of the Constitutional Court instructing him to appear before the State Capture Commission.
In the days of violence, more than 350 people lost their lives. At the time, the infrastructural damage was too extensive to quantify.
A year later, the KwaJeena shopping centre in Umlazi has been abandoned by its owners. In KwaMashu, the multi-million rand Bridge City shopping complex was also not spared but reconstruction has now begun. Informal traders were also hit hard.
Street Trader Thandiwe Chiliza says, “She says after this happened we were badly affected in such a way that we are no longer able to earn an income. I am no longer able to do the things that I am supposed to take care of we now have to work to only feed our families. I am unable to save through the stokvel we cannot enjoy the good life like going out to relax we just stay here being miserable.”
Another Street Trader, Balungile Ngcobo says, “The only solution to this problem is that they must bring back this shop so that we can start earning a living right now. We cannot survive we also have children who are attending school and some have stopped going to school because we cannot afford to give them bus fares. They use to take transport to go to school now we can’t do that we have decided that they must stop and wait for the shop to re-open – right now we can’t do anything we are working so that we can put bread on the table there is no one who is coming here to buy from us.”
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala visited affected areas. The visit forms part of the rebuilding and rehabilitation process of businesses and trading areas.
A number of township malls have not yet reopened. The government says it’s concerned about jobs.
“Major township malls such as kwaMnyandu Shopping Mall and UMlazi Mega City which are crucial for providing jobs for locals and bringing retail services closer to communities are also in the operation of concern is that in KwaMashu Township a number of malls centers and shops remain closed including Bridge City kwaMashu Center and most of the Dube Village near Inanda while plans to rebuild these centers are in motion. We however remain worried about the impact on jobs and access to services in the community,” Zikalala explains.
‘Rebuilding has not been easy’
Zikalala says the work of rebuilding infrastructure has had serious setbacks. “Our quest to economic recovery has not been a smooth expedition – some of these include business forums which cause major delays in projects that are implemented. We are working hard with social partners to fight this issue of business forums demanding work but we are also working to ensure that localization takes place. We applaud police who continue to work hard to arrest those who are behind the disruption of projects.”
Zikalala says his government continues to focus on restoring investor confidence.
Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Phalesa Phili says one must not be blind to the fact that the province’s reputation as a business destination has suffered.
VIDEO | KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala gives an update in the aftermath of the 2021 July unrest:
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