Members of the media,
We greet you all and we appreciate your presence here today.
We also welcome those colleagues who are joining us via our virtual platforms from elsewhere in our country.
We meet at a time when the province is picking up the pieces following the unprecedented and unexpected wave of civil unrest over the past week or so.
The purpose of today’s briefing is to update the people of KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa on the obtaining situation on the ground and the programme to rebuild our province again.
As we engage with you today, we are encouraged by many in our communities who have already grouped together to begin the work of rebuilding.
South Africans from all walks of life have rolled up their sleeves and are assisting in the clean-up and recovery across the province.
The people of KwaZulu-Natal are indeed re-engineering and re-opening our province for business and investment again. We must use our recent trials and tribulations to build a province that is even more united and ready to rise again.
We are pleased that all major transport routes are now operating normally, and traffic is flowing.
The movement on our roads points to an economy that is fast returning to normality with transport being allowed to play its role as a major economic enabler. KwaZulu-Natal has resumed its strategic role as a corridor that links the economic hubs of Gauteng and other provinces.
It must be remembered that the bulk of South African trade is seaborne, and therefore moves through our commercial ports. It is estimated that seaborne trade accounts for between 80 and 90 % of the South African economy. As a coastal province we therefore have a major responsibility to ensure the free flow of goods and services throughout our economic system.
We also have a responsibility to provide our landlocked neighbouring countries access for their goods to the sea and to facilitate their trade with the rest of the world.
IMPACT ON THE ECONOMY
As government continues to visit the scenes of devastation, it is now evident that it will take time for the province to recover. The impact has been worst in rural towns, SMMEs and on individual business owners, but the destruction has been felt across our economy.
The road to full recovery will be long and hard and will require all stakeholders to work together to reverse the negative impact.
In our latest assessments eThekwini Metro and Umsunduzi municipalities remain the hardest hit. We estimate that the unrest will affect eThekwini in the following manner:
Loss of stock of more than R1.5 billion;
Damage to property and equipment of more than R15 billion;
Over 50 000 Informal Traders affected;
Over 40 000 businesses affected;
More than 150 000 jobs are now at risk.
Preliminary estimates suggest that the impact on the eThekwini GDP will be about R20 billion.
Towns such as far apart as Pietermaritzburg, Nongoma, eShowe, Boston and Umzimkhulu were also hard hit by the wave of looting and the destruction of property. We are very mindful of the impact of the unrest on our rural towns. Other small towns affected by the unrest include Richmond, Greytown, Umzinto and many others.
Our current information indicates that key centres of our economy were negatively impacted as follows:
Malls and Shopping Centres - 89
Hospitals - 1
Warehouses - 45
Factories - 22
Banks - 8
Atms - 88
Liquor outlets - 89
Liquor distributors - 8
Delivery trucks burnt - 37
Schools - 139
Apart from the physical destruction of property the shutdown of economic activity has badly affected the overall economic output. Conservative estimates indicate that for every hour that the N3 highway between KZN and Gauteng is closed, millions of rand are lost to the economy.
We expect that once the assessment is complete, the figures may be much higher.
The social cost has also been very high. Apart from placing thousands of jobs at risk, the unrest has also threatened social cohesion and food security in the province.
A survey by the KZN Agricultural Union (KWANALU) estimates that the unrest demolished 55% of economic activities in our rural towns.
The survey shows that:
64% of rural towns are already experiencing severe food shortages;
32% moderate food shortages; and,
only 4% report a relatively secure food supply.
While we are still taking full stock of the damage caused, we are also preparing for the possibility that we may be required to call for the declaration of a state of disaster in KwaZulu-Natal.
LATEST SECURITY ANALYSIS IN KZN
With regard to the security situation our multi-disciplinary law enforcement agencies have been hard at work. Stability and order has returned in most parts of our province. We remain on full alert.
We are extremely concerned about the reported vigilante linked murders in Phoenix in which at least 38 people are reported to have been killed by vigilante groups. These murders are not only from Phoenix but also in Inanda and Verulam areas.
Since then, the Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele has assigned a team of top detectives from eThekwini to lead the investigations.
Those who died in the unrest include Africans and Indians, although the proportion of Africans who died is much higher. So far at least 5 people have been arrested and more arrests are still expected. The arrests are critical in enforcing the rule of law without fear or favour.
We are satisfied with the progress of the investigations. However, we want to see the arrests of all those suspects linked to these senseless murders of civilians many who were travelling on the main roads.
This week we visited the Nzimande family in Inanda and met with the bereaved families of about 22 people who died during the unrest.
We have started a process towards engaging communities and have developed an intense Social Cohesion Programme that will promote unity among Africans and Indians to ensure peace and harmony.
The Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster will continue its relentless pursuit to bring those responsible for these crimes to book.
In total at least 251 people are reported to have died and the police will continue to investigate circumstances surrounding their deaths;
The SAPS are investigating 163 cases for murder and 87 inquests dockets have been opened and 20 arrests related to the cases of murder related to the unrest;
The highest recorded number of deaths during the unrest were in eThekwini Metro, which recorded 110 murders, and this was followed by Umgungundlovu District (Pietermaritzburg), where 20 murders were reported.
The majority who died during the unrest had gunshot wounds and stab wounds while others were badly assaulted. Some people died from smoke inhalation and severe burn wounds because some warehouses that were looted were subsequently set alight while people were inside. Others died during stampedes as they fought each other over stolen goods.
As of this morning, the total number of people arrested in the province over the recent looting is 2763. A majority of the suspects were arrested for being in possession of stolen goods.
ADVANCING THE CAUSE OF PEACE AND UNITY
We have started a process towards engaging communities and have developed an intensive Social Cohesion Programme that will promote unity among Africans and Indians to ensure lasting peace and harmony.
As part of our response we will activate the Communities-in-Dialogue programme on an urgent basis.
The programme will:
Employ the services of Conflict resolution facilitators;
Conduct instability / conflict management monitoring and evaluation in order to determine the impact of interventions, identify.
We have received reports from the SAPS and Metro Police working with the CPFs that the road blockages have been removed and roads cleared for free movement.
We have tasked the JCPS Cluster to conduct workshops on the legal framework which regulates the operation of neighbourhood watch forums. Everyone must stick to this legal framework under the leadership of the SAPS and other law enforcement agencies.
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE – IMMEDIATE TASKS (3 MONTHS PLAN)
Ladies and Gentlemen, Provincial government has consulted with our social partners, including political parties, business, traditional leaders, religious leaders and transport operators in order to respond collectively to the crisis.
Given the genesis and manifestation of this challenge, it is our view that only a whole society approach will yield a sustainable response.
In this regard, our build back better response is based on some of the following pillars:
Security: ensuring the security of persons, property, essential services and business;
Coordination: establishing a coordinated effort in recovering the economy with all organs of state;
Township and Rural Economy: focusing on the re-ignition of township and rural economies. This is with clear and concise actions to ensure not only food security, but also employment creation. Flagship projects like Bulk Buying will be accelerated to ensure access of products to Spaza Shops in the townships;
Addressing Generalised Anxiety induced by the unrest, by rolling out Social Cohesion and Moral Regeneration Programmes.
In the immediate, we have had to focus our attention on the security of corridors like the N3 and the N2. This is to facilitate the smooth and secure transit of fuel and food supplies.
In the coming days, our focus will be on stabilizing the situation and easing supply chain logistics and production. We are also focusing attention on ensuring the commercial viability of our ports, road and rail networks and the continued functioning of Dube Tradeport.
Stability in the fuel supply is critical because long queues indicate that economic activity is being suffocated. You will agree that the fuel supply has now been stabilised.
Even though some items may still be missing from your preferred retailer, as a province we have greatly improved the supply and availability of food. Consequently, the queues at supermarkets have sharply decreased.
Working with law enforcement agencies we are ensuring the safety of businesses. Besides restoring law and order, we are focusing our energies on putting in place strategies and mechanisms to detect and deter future unrests.
In this regard:
The provincial joint operations committee (JOC) has been activated to monitor, coordinate and fast track integrated response and recovery in the province. This includes planning and implementing medium- to long-term interventions by various sectors;
The quantification of damages (in terms of the infrastructure) continues, and is being coordinated at municipality level by all organs of state and stakeholders as coordinated and facilitated by the relevant clusters. These are anchored on the OSS/DDM model which is coordinated through the Wards, Local Municipalities and Districts.
We are encouraged by companies like Toyota and Massmart which have publicly made a commitment to continue operating in the province, despite the fake reports to the contrary.
Massmart, which owns Game, Makro, Cambridge Food and many other retail outlets was one of the hardest hit businesses. The company’s 39 facilities including its distribution centre at Riverhorse valley were affected by the unrest.
Despite this, Massmart has announced its intention to continue operating in the province and to retain all its employees.
We are confident that many more companies will follow this example. We are however mindful of the fear and overall anxiety that exists especially in the retail sector. We will do everything to assure the sector of our continuous support.
SUPPORT PACKAGES FOR AFFECTED BUSINESSES
As announced recently by His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa, national government is working on “extensive social and economic relief package” for affected sectors. We are working closely with national government on this. As KZN we are calling for both relief and stimulus packages.
We will also be exploring ways to augment the national support packages to affected companies, workers and communities. All our efforts will however be guided by the final assessment report at the end of the verification process.
We are ready to support companies that want to rebuild premises which were destroyed. Some of the initiatives we are investigating include having a rates rebate for those companies.
At the same time, we will expedite building plan approvals, occupational certificate approvals and EIA requirements.
This will ensure that the rebuilding process is quick and that most companies are back on their feet as soon as possible.
Municipalities are also coming to the party with support packages for business. This week the Mayor of eThekwini Cllr. Mxolisi Kaunda announced that the Metro will consider proposals to:
Provide rates relief to businesses that can no longer operate due to the damage to their property;
Provide a rental holiday to businesses that are using municipal buildings until they are repaired or rebuilt;
Allow businesses currently not operating to request disconnection of services to avoid charges being raised on their accounts;
Set up a single support service at the Durban Exhibition Centre and a hotline that will provide information to businesses to help them to restart;
Engage with SEDA, IDC and Ithala to provide funding support to businesses for re-stocking and rebuilding.
RESPONSE BEYOND THREE MONTHS
Beyond the initial period of three months we must agree on the need to work together to reset our economy. Resetting means that our economy must over time, begin to reflect the demographics of our province guided by the principles of inclusivity and co-ownership.
To achieve this requires that we build a solid skills base and more employment creating ventures in the province.
So, the medium to long-term response will focus on Reassuring, Rebuilding and ensuring that KZN is Rising and Uniting.
We will focus on promoting the KZN brand in domestic, continental and international markets. Ensuring the success of the Intra-Africa Trade Fair scheduled for November this year in Durban, will be key to this. We will continue to position KZN as Gateway to Africa and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
We are also working with Transnet to implement the moving of more cargo from road to rail. This initiative will increase efficiencies and drive down the cost of business in the overall economy.
KZN AFRICA EXPORT STRATEGY ADOPTED
Still on matters related to the economy, we are happy to announce that we have adopted the KwaZulu-Natal Africa Export Strategy and Implementation Plan. Having the two main ports in the country gives us a competitive advantage which we must build on.
The strategy, developed by Trade and Investment KZN, aims to determine the viability of products produced in KwaZulu-Natal,
We anticipate that businesses already exporting to the rest of the continent, and those still planning to do so, will find this KwaZulu-Natal Africa Export Strategy useful. The strategy will help them in their quest to grow continental sales and to remain sustainable, with positive implications on jobs and economic growth.
This strategy will be launched soon as part of the build up to the Intra-African Trade Fair 2021 to be held later this year. The Intra-African Trade Fair 2021 will be used as platform to market KZN and restore investor confidence and thus will play a critical role in our economic recovery efforts.
UPDATE ON COVID-19 STATUS IN KZN
Ladies and Gentlemen, we should never lose sight of the fact that all these developments are happening against the backdrop of COVID – 19, which remains as deadly as ever – if not worse.
Even with these challenges, as a Province we have remained vigilant in our monitoring of trends and assessment of developments around this virus.
Our ability to compile data was affected by the civil unrest last week, which is why our numbers dropped. At one point last week we registered around 600 new cases a day. This might have given us the false hope that our rate of infections were going down.
But with the return to work of our data capturers and other partners within the value chain, our numbers have gone up.
The latest information we have gathered over the last 24 hours is that KZN has recorded 1 542 new cases. This brings the total number of COVID -19 cases to 382 354.
Sadly, we have now lost 11 313 people. The average number of cases recorded in the past seven days was 1212 cases per day.
Our seven-day moving average has increased in the past four days, to 717-1212 cases per day.
EThekwini Metro Municipality continues to contribute 35% of the reported deaths (n=3 997). Out of this total, 214 (2%) deaths occurred at home. The median age for the deaths was 63 years (range 0-105). Of the total deaths, 7 817 (69%) had co-morbidities.
Recoveries stand at 353 596 and active cases are 16 5814.
HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS AND PATIENTS IN ISOLATION
The number of daily hospital isolations has increased steadily in both the private and public sectors, including patients in ICU and those requiring ventilation.
The average number of isolations increased from 52 to 186 admissions per day since the beginning of July 2021, using our 7-day moving average. The province currently has 1 907 patients admitted for COVID – 19. This amounts to (n=1 009, 53%) in the private sector, and (n=898, 47%) in public hospitals.
Even against this numbers we must continue to fight back against the virus. In this regard our COVID – 19 vaccination drive continues in earnest.
Yesterday, we breached the 1 million mark for the number of people who’ve been vaccinated, and our numbers currently stand at 1, 041 million, with a total of 191 vaccination sites that are active.
We are aware that some sites, such as Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital and Moses Mabhida have already started vaccinating people aged 35 years and above. This is because of the availability of sufficient vaccine doses.
However, all our sites throughout the province will be fully ready for those aged 35 and over with effect from the 1st of August 2021.
We want to re-iterate that even those who have been vaccinated still have a duty to follow non-pharmaceutical measures, such as wearing of masks, regular hand washing, and the maintenance of social distancing of at least 2m between themselves and other people.
#UNITE KZN MOVEMENT
As we conclude, we call on all the people of KwaZulu-Natal to put up their hands and their shoulders to the wheel, and to work for a better and more inclusive KwaZulu-Natal for all.
In this regard we welcome the initiative launched by our leading radio stations in KZN under the #uniteKZN. These media giants are inviting us to focus on the future we want for our province. All of us stand to benefit from this initiative. We would like to us this platform to invite every citizen to join this #uniteKZN Movement.
This initiative is anchored around the programmes to create opportunities, the cleaning up our neighbourhoods, providing for those in need and promoting togetherness. This is indeed Ubuntu at work, and as government we will lend our firm and continued support to this movement for unity in KwaZulu-Natal.
Together let us rebuild KwaZulu-Natal!
Together let us unite KwaZulu-Natal!
I THANK YOU!