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Clive Ndou
Politics editor
3 minute read
16 May 2022
10:01

‘KZN’s economy is vital to the national economy’ — Ramaphosa

Clive Ndou

South Africa’s economic recovery objectives will not be achieved if flood damage caused to KwaZulu-Natal’s infrastructure is not fixed.

South Africa’s economic recovery objectives will not be achieved if flood damage caused to KwaZulu-Natal’s infrastructure is not fixed.

This was the sentiment shared by President Cyril Ramaphosa while addressing business leaders in Durban on Sunday. Ramaphosa said the government could not afford to ignore the current challenges faced by KZN’s economy.

“The KZN economy is a vital part of the national economy. It represents 16% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of our economy.

“The economic reconstruction and recovery underway across the country in the aftermath of Covid-19 can’t succeed without the swift, comprehensive and sustainable recovery of the economy of KwaZulu-Natal,” he said.

The floods, which hit several parts of the province, caused damage to business and government infrastructure which is expected to cost more than R20 billion to fix. The province’s rail and road infrastructure networks were also severely damaged.

While there were challenges in the government’s response to the floods, Ramaphosa assured the province’s business sector that everything was being done to restore services and rebuild infrastructure.

He said: 

“Declaring the floods as a national state of disaster has really enabled us to mobilise resources, more capabilities and expertise. But of course, there will always be gaps, and these are gaps that we need to address together and to find solutions.”

The meeting, which was also attended by representatives of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, included various members of the national cabinet.

While Transport minister, Fikile Mbalula, said processes to get the province’s roads fixed were being expedited, he pointed out that important details such as the funding model were yet to be finalised, as government’s road agency Sanral is unable to raise adequate revenue.

“Of course, the funding model for the road infrastructure is a bigger question we are grappling with. As you would know, Sanral’s balance sheet has been affected by the impasse in relation to the eTolls in the country.

“Once we resolve that matter, which will be before cabinet very soon, we will be able to do what we need to do. The decision is imminent,” he said.

Water and sanitation minister, Senzo Mchunu said while the water supply interrupted by the floods was being restored, the process was being hampered by several factors.

“One of them is the issue of aged infrastructure. I know some people refer to it as ageing infrastructure — it’s wrong. The infrastructure has aged,” Mchunu said.

In addition to fixing the damage caused to the water infrastructure, Mchunu said existing dams were currently being upgraded while new ones were being constructed.

He said: 

“It’s also a long-term process. In terms of ensuring the availability of water, we should be completing our project (uMkhomazi water project) of augmenting water for eThekwini, uMgungundlovu, and other surrounding districts by 2027/28. The raising of the wall of the Hazelmere Dam is being completed.”

Sunday’s meeting came on the back of mounting public concerns over the pace at which the government was rolling out its relief measures following last month’ floods.