In recent weeks KwaZulu-Natal has found itself in the depth of despair during which destruction threatened to undo all our achievements since 1994.
Here among members of the Durban Chamber of Commerce are companies large and small who have lost millions, if not billions, during this unfortunate period in our history.
The recent destruction has impacted practically all types of businesses, across all sectors and districts in our province as the looting mob ransacked premises and set buildings on fire.
We wish to convey our condolences to the families of all the people who also perished during this disastrous period. As we indicated in our meetings with business including the Chamber, we are pleased that we have secured the national corridor and enables the smooth running of supply chain logistics. This is important for our economy and for tour resilience. We must rise and grow our economy again. In this regard we are eternally grateful to the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster especially the SANDF and the SAPS for your role in this regard.
While their intervention was visible, it is the preventative aspect that we must also appreciate.
Without the law enforcement agencies we would be facing a much bigger disaster. We would also like to express our sincere appreciation to business in the province for your considered response to the recent crisis.
Faced with this very painful and threatening situation, business has responded by pledging its solid commitment to KwaZulu-Natal. We are also pleased that as we rebuild many businesses have pledged to save jobs and others to continue investing in the province.
Today’s gathering is testimony that we share an unbroken common cause which is to build a future KwaZulu-Natal and the continued development of its people.
With all of us working together, we can ensure that KwaZulu-Natal can rise to take its place among the economies of the region and the world.
THE CAUSE FOR SOCIAL COHESION AND MORAL REGENERATION
We speak on behalf of the people of KwaZulu-Natal when we say that it is in times like this when our relationships are tested.
We also met yesterday and as the Social Cohesion and Moral Regeneration Council announced the rollout of an intensive programme on building unity. This is a whole-society approach that will involve rebuilding the fabric that holds a diverse country as ours together.
As our Motto declares we are “United in Diversity”. This calls for the recognition of our diverse racial histories and cultures and recognising them as pieces that are needed to solve the puzzle.
The programme also recognises the need to speed up programmes for social and economic inclusion of more people in the economy.
Together with members of the Chamber must also pledge to drive this process together which will see the generation of more SMMEs and the opening of industries such as agriculture, the maritime sector and tourism for new entrants.
This we must do by growing the existing cake and not by displacing existing businesses.
The strong bonds we built over the years between Government, Business and Labour today become the ground from which we will rebuild KwaZulu-Natal.
ACKNOWLEDGING THE PLEDGE BY BUSINESS
Today’s handover of Food, Fuel, Accommodation and Vehicles best demonstrates this never-say-die attitude of our business.
This response will no doubt make light the burden that we have placed on the men and women of the SANDF, as they perform their duties across the province.
In addition to accommodation, food and fuel, the Chamber has loaned vehicles 21 vehicles to the SANDF. This has been made possible with the generous contribution of companies such as Illovo, BP, Shell, Freight Park, Metair, Mondi, Mr Price, RCL, SAB, Sappi, Toyota, and Unilever.
Through the Chamber and on behalf of the people and government of KwaZulu-Natal we wish to thank the CEOs and Boards for this gesture.
MOVING KWAZULU-NATAL TO A STATE OF DISASTER
Yesterday we met as Members of Provincial Council and took a resolution declare a provincial state of disaster in the province.
This is due to the magnitude of the damage. Most of the organs of state have conducted their preliminary assessments to determine the magnitude of their damages and costs.
The current estimated costs of damages and relief required for the sector departments is R1 534 026 832,96 whereas the municipal damages require R47 733 460,37.
The interim financial implications is R1 581 760 293,33
We note that the financial implications for the damages and recovery costs are still not final.
We can confirm that with the work done so far, the situation is beyond the provincial and municipal capacity to deal with the cost of public riots and unrest as reported;
We have therefore recommended to submit for classification to the national disaster management centre in terms of section 23(1)(b) of the disaster management act.
The declaration of a provincial state of disaster will support the reprioritization of budgets to implement the repairs and recovery programs.
In conclusion, we wish to convey our sincerest appreciation to the President and to the military for your role in securing peace in the country and here in KwaZulu-Natal.
In this regard we are reminded of the famous words uttered by US President JF Kennedy in 1961 which still ring true here in our province today and we paraphrase them, and quote:
"The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavour will light our country and all who serve it — and the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so, my fellow South Africans: Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”.
Together let us build KwaZulu Natal.
I thank you!