The IFP in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature welcomes the move by the provincial executive to request National Government to declare KwaZulu-Natal a disaster area, following the recent violent unrest that took place in the province.
The violent unrest that took place two weeks ago left the province with much damage, leaving many businesses unable to operate due to the level of destruction. Critical infrastructure, like the road network, was left dysfunctional in many areas. The electricity network was damaged. Telephone services were left with damage that impacted effective connectivity. Banks and government offices, which assist the poorest of the poor, were damaged, as well as ATM services. Many small towns were, in effect, shut down, causing an increase in transport fees, due to extra distances to be travelled.
Above all, many lives were lost unnecessarily in this unwarranted violence. Businesspeople lost property, stock and materials amounting to billions of rands. Further, thousands of jobs and job opportunities were lost. Some of these jobs will not be recovered. This is a huge loss to the province, at a critical time where the economy of the country is unable to create new job opportunities, which are so desired by unemployed communities. The province has estimated damages of R1.53 billion, with R47.7 million in damages to municipalities. This may still increase, depending on outstanding reports of the damage.
Prior to heightened developments during the unrest, the Hon. Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, President Emeritus of the IFP and Traditional Prime Minister of the Zulu Monarch and Nation, warned national government to the effect that the army should be deployed to assist in monitoring developments. It is now history that national government did not heed this call, but instead decided to be dismissive.
The IFP is therefore also suggesting that hot-spot areas, like the Mooi River Toll Gate on the N3, should be provided with mobile Police Stations to help monitor the situation going forward.
Should national government accede to the request to have KwaZulu-Natal declared a disaster area, it will assist in unlocking funds – both from national and provincial government – to assist in funding the rebuilding efforts. Many of the SMMEs that lost their businesses due to the unrest were not insured. The negligence of our government is largely responsible for most of the damage that befell businesses. It is thus the government that should fund the restoration and rebuilding of these businesses.
The IFP therefore fully supports the request to have KwaZulu-Natal declared as a disaster area.
Hon. Velenkosini F Hlabisa
Leader of the Official Opposition in KZN and President of the IFP
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