His Worship, the Mayor of eThekwini Municipality, Cllr Mxolisi Kaunda, hosted members of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, property developers and the business community for the launch of City Means Business on Wednesday, 27 November 2019, at the Greyville Convention Centre. The event served as a launch for the City Means Business series of engagements and the inaugural topic focussed on the Inner-City Regeneration Programme with particular focus on ‘bad buildings’ in the Mahatma Gandhi Precinct.

The Deputy President of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gladwin Malishe, said, “Inner-City regeneration has long been a priority for eThekwini Municipality, the Durban Chamber, our members, the business community as well as the local community. At several of the Durban Chamber’s Forums such as the Central Area Forum, Southern Area Forum and Safety and Justice Forum the inner-city has been a contentious and heated topic of discussion.”

“Many businesses have either closed down or scaled down their operations because of the issues and challenges experienced in the inner-city. That is why the City Means Business series of engagements offer a glimmer of hope to many disillusioned businesses, property owners and stakeholders with a vested interest in our inner-city,” added Malishe.

“Going forward, if we are to make any headway or progress in addressing the socio-economic issues plaguing our City, then we need to acknowledge that there is a need for more significant and impactful public-private engagement and collaboration especially on vital projects and programmes such as Inner-City Regeneration,” concluded Malishe.

Mayor of eThekwini Municipality, Cllr Mxolisi Kaunda, concurred, saying that “The city is unable to derive maximum economic benefits from these areas because they are in a state of decline due to lack of cooperation among all stakeholders and inadequate law enforcement. Another contributing factor to this deterioration is a steady decline in the property rates, the relocation of businesses and middle-income residents.”

In response to this challenge, the Municipality has developed an inner-city regeneration plan. Emphasis on the following fundamental issues.

  • Cleaning and Maintenance focusing on the removal of litter and cleaning of stormwater systems, fixing street lighting, CCTV Cameras and ablution facilities;
  • Bad Buildings;
  • Attracting mixed-income and mixed-use housing development;
  • Homelessness;
  • Enforcement of by-laws; and
  • Stakeholder management.

“The City applauds the smaller developers that continue to maintain their buildings. Examples that come to mind and stand out as beacons of hope and attraction are Florida Road, Unisa, Mancosa, Dennis Hurley Centre, River Town, Station Precinct, Tsogo Sun on the Central Beach Zone and a number of other renovated buildings and areas,” concluded Mayor Kaunda.

The City’s Economic Development and Business Support Deputy City Manager, Philip Sithole said that “Dilapidated buildings are a major challenge in attracting investment in the inner-city. To date, about 80 bad buildings have been identified in the inner-city.”

“The City has incentives in place, some of which are in progress to support those property owners who want to regenerate bad buildings. Fast-tracking of plans related to bad buildings, rates payment plan for bad and distressed buildings, tax incentives with SAR’s, social housing are some of the support in place to help property owners,” added Sithole.

“As the city, we have intensified our efforts to address this undesirable situation, commencing with the Mahatma Gandhi node in the point precinct which has about 33 bad buildings. We remain committed to working with the private sector, considering that 75% of the bad buildings are privately owned,” concluded Sithole.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Palesa Phili, said “The Durban Chamber deeply appreciates the commitment shown by eThekwini Municipality in partnering with us for the City Means Business series of engagements. This shows that the City wants to actively engage and have an open discourse with the Business community on eThekwini’s programmes and initiatives.”

“The City has taken the first step, so now the Durban Chamber encourages the business community, from entrepreneurs to executives of large corporates and multinationals, to actively participate in this process as well. We have been given this platform and others, so the onus is on us to ensure that we prioritise these engagements as an opportunity to enter into a mutually beneficial discourse and partnership with the City,” concluded Phili.