KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Sihle Zikalala, has commended communities and South Africans from all walks of life who have rolled up their sleeves, and are assisting in the clean-up and recovery efforts across the province.
“The people of KwaZulu-Natal are indeed re-engineering and re-opening our province for business and investment again. We are pleased that all major transport routes are now operating normally, and traffic is flowing,” Zikalala said.
Zikalala said the movement on provincial roads points to an economy that is fast returning to normality with transport being allowed to play its role as a major economic enabler.
However, the Premier warned that the road to full recovery will be long and hard, and will require all stakeholders to work together to reverse the negative impact caused by the recent civil unrest.
“As government continues to visit the scenes of devastation, it is now evident that it will take time for the province to recover. The impact has been worst in rural towns, Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) and on individual business owners, but the destruction has been felt across our economy,” Zikalala said.
Giving an update on the latest situation in the province and economic recovery efforts on Saturday, Zikalala said the latest assessments shows that eThekwini Metropolitan and Umsunduzi Municipalities remain the hardest hit.
Preliminary estimates suggest that the impact to the eThekwini Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be about R20 billion.
Towns including Pietermaritzburg, Nongoma, eShowe, Boston and Umzimkhulu were also hard hit by the wave of looting and the destruction of property.
Other small towns, including Richmond, Greytown, Umzinto and many others, were also affected by the unrest.
Current information indicates that key centres of the economy in the province were negatively impacted, and these include 89 malls and shopping centres, one hospital, 45 warehouses, 22 factories, eight banks, 88 Automated Teller Machine (ATM), 89 liquor outlets, and eight liquor distributors. Meanwhile, 37 delivery trucks were burnt and 139 schools were vandalised.
“Apart from the physical destruction of property, the shutdown of economic activity has badly affected the overall economic output. Conservative estimates indicate that for every hour that the N3 highway between KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng is closed, millions of rand are lost to the economy.
“We expect that once the assessment is complete, the figures may be much higher. The social cost has also been very high. Apart from placing thousands of jobs at risk, the unrest has also threatened social cohesion and food security in the province,” the Premier said.
A survey by the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (KWANALU), estimates that the unrest demolished 55% of economic activities in rural towns, with 64% of rural towns already experiencing severe food shortages; 32% moderate food shortages; and only 4% report a relatively secure food supply.
While the province continues to take full stock of the damage caused, the provincial government is also preparing for the possibility that “we may be required to call for the declaration of a state of disaster in KwaZulu-Natal.”