Government’s new district development model rolled out in eThekwini

By Lyse Comins 1h ago

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Durban – THERE must be a clear divide between business, politics and local government to root out corruption under the new district development model (DDM) that is being rolled out as a pilot project in eThekwini Municipality, Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, said on Monday.

Dlamini Zuma, who was addressing business leaders and city officials in Durban, highlighted the government’s new district development model that will see deputy ministers serving as “champions”of all districts across the country to promote the development of natural resources specific to each area.

She said Durban’s competitive advantages to be further developed included its people, fertile land, warm coastline, tourism, the film and entertainment industry and the manufacturing sector.

She said it was important to remove “binding constraints”, such as port congestion, and to attract global investors, while developing industrial parks and a skills master plan to drive a “skills revolution”.

Dlamini Zuma said the model had taken lessons from China’s development, which had focused on identifying the natural endowments of a district and its capabilities to excel in certain sectors, and then the government had facilitated the necessary industrial upgrades and transformation.

She said businesses and entrepreneurs had a key role to play in fulfilling the development model, but it was problematic that “in some municipalities you can’t tell who is the administrator and who is business, and in others you can’t tell who is political and who is business”.

“When things go like that the citizens suffer and there is no proper service delivery because people are fighting for resources that are not theirs.

“We want to keep this clean. Business and political leaders must work together, but we must be able to distinguish,” she said.

KZN Growth Coalition co-chairperson Moses Tembe welcomed the model. However, he said the government needed to urgently take a zero tolerance approach to crime, including civil riots and the rogue invasions of new developments, as well as focus on the hiring of skilled officials.

“EThekwini is in the position to become a model city in South Africa and we see the application of the DDM as an appropriate instrument to realise that dream,” he said.

Tembe said businesses were concerned about the business forums that were invading construction sites for a share of the 30% of business that the city had set aside for small black- and women-owned firms.

“Construction companies that are suffering cannot continue because of the stoppages, and people are not being empowered.

“Law and order must really be taken seriously. Many people are of the view that we tend to tolerate criminals on the ground who are hiding behind empowerment,” he said.

Minara Chamber of Commerce chief executive Solly Suleman said SMMEs desperately needed government grant funding as a lifeline to recover from Covid-19.

National African Federated Chamber of Commerce representative Jabulani Khumalo said the government should work with consortiums of large firms parented with SMMEs to develop the district as this would ensure the transfer of skills.

Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Nigel Ward said the city had made progress in improving port functioning although more work could be done to get cargo moving smoothly.

EThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said the city’s Covid-19 economic recovery plan had led to investors committing to retain and expand their investments in the city.

Among the city’s catalytic projects were the Rivertown Precinct Upgrade; the Ntshongweni mixed-use development; Dube TradePort; Virginia Airport; the Cato Ridge Dry Port; and the Illovo Auto Supplier Park.

“The private developers who are proposing to build a dry port at Cato Ridge require Sanral to construct a new interchange on to the N3. The interchange will not only allow the dry port to be built, but will also unlock substantial industrial land that will support the industrialisation objectives of the national economic recovery plan,” Kaunda said.

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