The Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC, Mr Sipho Hlomuka has assured business, labour and civic organisations about his department’s commitment to assisting municipalities to speed up the spatial planning and development processes required to rebuild the province’s small towns that have been decimated by the unrest that hit large parts of the province last week.

Yesterday, the MEC joined the Minister for Cogta Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in a visit to the small towns of Bulwer and Donnybrook which are under the Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma Local Municipality in the Midlands.

As part of the visit, the Minister and the MEC together with the Mayor of the Harry Gwala District Cllr Nxumalo and the Mayor of the NDZ Local Municipality Cllr Mncwabe engaged with stakeholders such as the local businesses, civic organisations and labour on a common approach that will be taken in the rebuilding of the towns.

In the town of Bulwer, a hardware shop survived and is in the process of being converted into a grocery store.

In her address to stakeholders, the Minister for Cogta assured them of the government’s commitment to restoring peace in communities that were affected by the unrest and to support municipalities and all stakeholders in dealing with the impact of the unrest. “As we set out to rebuild our towns we have to reimagine how we can improve on what they were” added Minister Dlamini-Zuma.

In his address to the stakeholders, MEC Hlomuka urged the municipality to speed up the processes of approving building plans once they are submitted. “It is important that our municipalities work closely with business to ensure that plans are timeously approved as this is the only way we can get our towns rebuilt. We have assigned senior officials from our Municipal Planning division which will assist municipalities in the rebuilding process and ensuring that all building plans comply with the relevant legislation” said Hlomuka.

MEC Hlomuka will be visiting the small towns across the province to get a first-hand account of the extent of the damage and the rebuilding efforts.