Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has called for the re-imagining of Harry Gwala District Municipality in a manner that will be beneficial to communities in the region.
The Minister made the call during the first day of a three-day District Development Model (DDM) working session in the KwaZulu-Natal district on Monday.
Dlamini-Zuma, who was accompanied by Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu, was joined by KZN COGTA MEC, Sipho Hlomuka and other provincial and local government leaders.
“Some of the low hanging fruits include the fact that the district has arable land and a scenic topography that boasts the cleanest air,” said Dlamini-Zuma.
During the first engagement with civil society representatives, amakhosi, business representatives and local government leadership, the Minister expanded on the DDM and its importance in the development of communities.
The DDM is based on a coordinated and coherent development strategy, which seeks to institutionalise long-term planning, integrate service delivery and maximise the impact of public expenditure at district and local level.
District and metro spaces are strategic impact zones of alignment for all three spheres of government, working in collaboration with social partners.
Dlamini-Zuma said the comparative advantages of the district comprise the people, and the potential that lies in forestry, husbandry, as well as eco and adventure tourism.
“As the district is being reimagined, it is important to fully exploit these latent economic opportunities. To this effect, government, in collaboration with its social partners through Public Private Growth Initiatives (PPGI), should create an enabling environment that incentivises agro-processing and tourism,” she said.
Section 152 of the Constitution enjoins local government to ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner, and promote social and economic development.
Dlamini-Zuma said a reimagined Harry Gwala District must champion local economic development by embracing gender responsive budgeting that prioritises women and youth to unleash the economic potential of the district.
The ministerial contingent visited the Greater Summerfield Water Project. The project is part of the economic recovery and reconstruction plan, in support of the district’s vision to become a leading water service provider in KZN by 2030.
At the centre of this plan is the role played by communities as the main intended beneficiaries of this and many other projects.
The R2.8 million project aims to ensure access and supply to safe and reliable potable water to 39 007 people living in 7 813 households.
The project, which uses Umzimkhulu River water sources, is expected to benefit villages such as Madekeni, Mvolozi, KwaDayi and Thembeni, while contributing to job creation and skills development.
Minister Mthembu visited Rietvlei Hospital to assess the district’s COVID-19 response plan.
The 205-bed facility, which is the only district hospital in Umzimkhulu’s 22 municipal wards, renders services catering for HIV/Aids, TB, cerebrovascular diseases and cervical cancer.
The COVID-19 response plan has seen 123 256 people screened, 2 406 tested, 435 recoveries and 15 deaths.
The hospital has seen a decrease in maternal deaths from three in 2019/20 to one in 2020/21; a decrease in diarrhoea case fatality from five in 2019/20 to one in 2020/21, and a decrease in severe acute malnutrition case fatality from six in 2019 to 1 in 2020.
The working visit culminated in a DDM stakeholder visit to Ubuhlebezwe Municipality, which is among the top 10 poorest municipalities in the country.
The Ministers indicated that Harry Gwala District Municipality has to contribute to the skills revolution to mitigate inequality, since education is the fastest socio-economic status equaliser.