By Jehran Naidoo
Durban – If all goes according to plan, the Ugu District Municipality in the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal is likely to see its infrastructure and local economy developed in the coming years, with the help of government and businesses through the district development model (DDM) to create what is being called a “smart coastal city”.
The district development was touted on Friday at the Ugu Sports and Leisure Centre by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who said that the government was going to remove “bureaucratic red tape”, which often turns away investors, in order for its successful implementation.
The president was joined by a host of business and government delegates including the province’s premier Sihle Zikalala, Co-operative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma as well as Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele.
Representatives from the Wildcoast Business Forum and Black Business Council were also present at the event.
Ramaphosa said the government was doing all it could to attract investors into the DDM, which will see development taking place on the country’s eastern seaboard, a 600km stretch of coastline that runs from KZN to the Eastern Cape.
He said the results of the recent local government elections painted a clear picture of the needs of citizens, particularly in the Ugu District, where residents have been known to struggle with access to clean water.
“The district development model approach will ensure better alignment of government structures to facilitate planning permits and other approvals required for Development. We will do so without cutting corners or compromising on safety and quality.
“It is critical that we now focus all our energies on addressing the many service delivery concerns of our people, and also of businesses who rely on the provision of these services to run their operations,” Ramaphosa said.
The president continued: “We are serious about making sure that South Africa becomes an investment destination. We are serious about removing red tape. What we want to do is to take out red tape and lay out the red carpet so that investors can come.”
The district, which has four local municipalities, has also come under financial pressure following the breakout of Covid-19 and more recently, the July unrest which caused more damage to its municipal assets, further hindering service delivery in the area.
But Zikalala said the provincial government has been hard at work, as moves of this magnitude require proper planning, budgeting and implementation. He said the DDM is expected to unlock investment in various sectors such as mining, agriculture, tourism and infrastructure development.
Both he and the president said that the two provinces have a plethora of natural endowments which can be leveraged for a successful implementation of the DDM.
“From Coffee Bay to Kosi Bay, the Eastern Seaboard Development will positively impact the lives of the people of Ugu District Municipality, Harry Gwala District Municipality and OR Tambo District Municipality.
“A number of the poorest people of our country are to be found here, making these districts to be migrant-sending areas which compel many people to go to bigger cities in search of work and other opportunities.
“This development will go far in strengthening the bonds that already exist between the people of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal,” Zikalala said.