Call on MEC to invest in human development

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

On the eve of the presentation of his budget, big business in KwaZulu-Natal has urged finance and economics MEC Zweli Mkhize to "encourage people empowerment" in his new fiscal plan.

Bonke Dumisa, chief executive of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Mkhize and the treasury should spend more money on human development.

He said the trend in the province was towards the development of co-operatives and it was important for such projects to be viable and sustainable.

"Such initiatives must be able to sustain community demand. For example, if a community needs to run a viable farming operation its people should be be taught the necessary skills.

"The government must support projects that empower people instead of handing out day-old chicks to communities for breeding," he said.

"Money must not be thrown down the drain. We should provide people with the skills they need to run a profitable business and not teach them how to write business plans.

"We must stop giving the people fish. If we give them fish they will come back for more. We must start teaching people how to catch fish," he said.

Dumisa urged the provincial government to invest in infra-structural development in rural areas as well as in urban centres.

"Infra-structural challenges still exist in our rural areas. If people want to invest in Mahlabathini and Nongoma they cannot [do so] because of a lack of proper facilities and resources.

"Such areas must be equipped to attract industrial development and have the necessary electrical and telecommunications capability.

"If not, our rural areas will continue to discourage investment and boost a migration of people from our rural areas into the urban areas. We must move to decentralise our economic development in the province," he said.

Dumisa also urged Mkhize to get "close to business across the spectrum".

"There is a tendency for the government to align itself with certain businesses and not others. Ideological alignment is not the answer and Mkhize must get close to all businesses and consult across the board. Business need not be your best friend, but one hopes you can strike some commonality," he said.