Africans protest because they are angry and excluded, Durban conference hears

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DURBAN, February 27 – KwaZulu-Natal’s largest city has said that an increase in violent protests are a direct result of “anger and frustration” by African residents who feel they are excluded from the mainstream economy.

Speaking on behalf of eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede – who was attending the state of the province address in Pietermaritzburg – city councillor Busi Ndlovu said while the protests must be dealt with by law enforcement, the reason behind the tensions could not be ignored. “People want to see real change,” she said.

Ndlovu was speaking on the opening day of the “First Radical Economic Transformation Conference and Expo” at the Durban Exhibition Centre on Tuesday. The two-day “summit” was hosted by the Federation of Radical Economic Transformation and eThekwini Metro.

“Protests are growing and getting more violent. The reality is these protests are due to frustration and sheer anger as our people appear to be left behind in every sector. For the business forum to host this conference is indeed welcome,” said Ndlovu.

Ndlovu said there had been “extensive work done” by the city to accelerate radical economic transformation (RET), such as pushing through amendments to the procurement framework and other issues relating to supply chain management.

“The office of RET has been launched with external office bearers. The executive committee has also identified low hanging fruit industries such as security services and catering services that can be prioritised for RET. The city is working on the incubation programme where graduates are given access to business opportunities.”

She said the city had “engaged the private sector” with whom they had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

“We are hosting an RET conference with the private sector in March 2018. The city will also be signing an MOU with the school nutrition programme. The aim is to source supplies from local farm producers. We [as a city] are not just keen on talking about [radical economic transformation] – we are putting money where our mouth is,” said Ndlovu.

With the projection screen showing a slogan of #RETMANJE and 3D graphics depicting production such as oil wells alongside modern skyscrapers, Federation for RET head of communications Robert Ndela, in a lively free-wheeling speech, characterised the conference as a movement which the city of eThekwini was leading.

“eThekwini is the first city to have an RET strategy. When you say RET you think of the progressive eThekwini. We thank Mayor Gumede for taking this initiative. As the federation we are happy. We said the hallmark of this federation would be RET. We say RET-Manje (now). This is not a platform to attack individuals but to build instead,” said Ndlela.

eThekwini Councillor Ntando Khuzwayo remarked that black African residents had been “marginalised for a very long time” despite the ANC being in government for 24 years. “It is a pity that we have been in government for a long time and our black people still languish in poverty.”

Khuzwayo thanked former president Jacob Zuma, referring to him as “President Nxamalala”, for being a “champion” of the radical economic transformation movement.

– African News Agency (ANA)