KZN economy gets ‘back on its feet’

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube arrives at the Oval Cricket Stadium in Pietermaritzburg to deliver the State of the Province Address on Wednesday. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/Independent Newspapers

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube arrives at the Oval Cricket Stadium in Pietermaritzburg to deliver the State of the Province Address on Wednesday. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 29, 2024


KWAZULU-NATAL Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube delivered a range of plans to deal with the energy and water crises, unemployment, crime and infrastructure challenges while also highlighting the gains made in 30 years of democracy during the State of the Province address on Wednesday.

Speaking at the Oval Cricket Ground in Pietermaritzburg, Dube-Ncube said life had improved for people living in townships from KwaMashu to uMkhanyakude, where in 1996 communities that had access to electricity was 46% while today this stands at more than 97% and water provision now stands at 85% of households that have access to piped tap water.

“We acknowledge the current challenges of constrained energy and water supply in some parts of the province.

“We are working hard to attend to these issues, and I am convinced that working together we will find lasting solutions,” Dube-Ncube said.

She said the sixth administration was challenged by the Covid-19 pandemic, the July 2021 unrest and continuous floods with the pandemic shrinking GDP by 7% in 2020 compared with 0.2% growth in 2019.

“Up to February 2023 we had lost more than 16 297 lives to the Covid-19 pandemic and over 102 000 direct jobs were decimated in the province – the cost of the impact of the pandemic is still unfolding to this day.

“Following the destructive floods in April 2022, and the July 2021 civil unrest, the government implemented a package of recovery programmes.

“Having almost been brought to its knees by the floods, the civil unrest, and global economic challenges, today our economy is back on its feet, gradually addressing the damage which is estimated to be in the region of R33 billion.”

On the ports of Durban and Richards Bay, she said the number of vessels at anchorage has reduced from more than 60 ships in mid-November to just 12 ships at the end of January.

“We recognise with appreciation the role played by the industry as well as local businesses in ensuring our ports are held accountable and deliver on their intended mandate of facilitating international trade,” Dube-Ncube said.

While the provincial government is encouraged that employment has increased in the last two quarters, concern remains that unemployment in the province remains high at 33%, she said.

The opening of the R2 billion Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme Regional Hospital last year has changed lives, especially in the Phoenix, Inanda, Ntuzuma and KwaMashu area and created 5 312 jobs during construction, the premier said.

Underdevelopment in townships and rural areas remained an enormous challenge and the government has prioritised programmes to promote investment in retail malls and industries as a way to revive and stimulate townships and rural areas, she said.

On crime, Dube-Ncube said that in the 2024/25 financial year, crime-fighting will be further strengthened through the recruitment of 1000 social crime prevention volunteers the SAPS will allocate more resources and vehicles will be made available in the province.

She said there were many projects aimed at energy security, with the government approving the declaration of Richards Bay as the centre for handling strategic commodities in the energy sector with a project that would create more than 1 000 jobs.

“Importantly, this focus will enable between 3000-5000MW of additional electricity to be supplied to the national grid in line with the Integrated Resource Plan. Though load shedding will remain a challenge in the immediate future, its severity will begin to ease as some of the more targeted initiatives recently announced begin to take effect.”

On the ongoing water crisis, she said the integrated implementation and timeous completion of water resources projects and linked rehabilitation, bulk water supply and reticulation projects for the entire value chain were being fast-tracked.

Opposition parties on Wednesday said while the speech looked at the issues of concern in the province, there was not enough detail on how these issues will be dealt with.

DA provincial leader Francois Rodgers said the address appeared to be a review of the ANC’s recent election manifesto launch.

“I was disappointed. We are on the ground and can see the poverty, unemployment, challenges in education and dysfunctional hospitals. The premier is out of touch with what is happening on the ground.”

The IFP’s Blessed Gwala said there was misinformation with regard to the political violence that took place before the first democratic elections in 1994.

“The premier tried to say there was only one party that was involved but the ANC brought AK-47s to the country – it is not as one-sided as it was portrayed.”

The EFF’s provincial leader Mongezi Twala said he was disappointed with the message on the fight against crime.

“We did not expect more from the ANC, it was pure electioneering and grandstanding. There is a high unemployment rate in the province; our people in eThekwini who were affected by floods are still living like sardines,” Twala said.

ActionSA’s Premier candidate Zwakele Mncwango said more detail was needed on job creation and infrastructure projects.

“We need an economy that creates real jobs; not temporary ones. With water issues, the premier praised the government for large scale projects but we are still facing issues with water.”

The Mercury

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