uThukela District Municipality, in conjunction with the Department of Co-operative Governance & Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), hosted a two-day District Growth and Development Summit at the Ladysmith Town Hall on June 25 and 26.
The summit was organised as a crucial part of government’s plans to tackle poverty and create job opportunities.
The purpose of the event, as outlined by Municipal Manager SN Kunene, was to afford different stakeholders an opportunity to engage each other and discuss developmental issues in the district.
“We are all aware that the level of unemployment in our district is very high. Our people are thus expecting the municipalities to lead around the issues of development,” Mr Kunene said.
Mr Kunene acknowledged that there are certain areas without access to basic services like potable water and hygienic sanitation.
“It is clear that we should be emerging from this summit with a long-term sustainable growth and development plan, co-owned by all four social partners – labour, business, civil society and with strong inter-governmental co-operation – in order to ensure that the economy of the uThukela District diversifies and builds a strong foundation to achieve growth,” concluded Mr Kunene.
Delivering his keynote address, uThukela District Mayor Mazibuko gave a holistic overview of the district as vast and mostly rural. He said that in terms of administration, our district is rendering services to both rural and urban areas. “In the process of bringing services to the people, there is a challenge that people are not willing to pay for services. This, in turn, has a negative impact in terms of rendering services effectively,” said the mayor.
The mayor then encouraged all participants to work together in different forums across the district. He also mentioned that stakeholders must create platforms for young people so they can be mentored and grow economically. He also emphasised the need to find solutions that are sustainable and said he was confident that the commissions will come out with deliberations that will take the district forward.
During the presentations made by various stakeholders, the much-talked-about project which is envisaged to create many job opportunities for the people of the district took centre stage. The Sinosa Smelter Park Project, to be based in Colenso, had everyone’s interest. The project is expected to create many economic activities and employ a large number of people once it is operational.
Executive Chairman Mr B Mavundla said this is one of the biggest projects in the country, which will benefit a lot of people in more ways than one.
The summit addressed the challenges of unemployment, poverty, and the gap between rich and poor.
The district summits are meant to ensure that the South African government’s plans for economic growth and its fight against poverty and unemployment is taken to the ground, discussed and implemented.