Durban citizens have mixed emotions about WEF Africa

Thabani Mthombeni, member of the South African Youth Alliance. Picture: ANA

Thabani Mthombeni, member of the South African Youth Alliance. Picture: ANA

The summit garnered mixed feelings from residents approached, with many saying the meeting held little relevance for them and would not help them in a meaningful way.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa closed on Friday but the summit which saw around 1 000 delegates, including heads of state, leaders from government and business spheres and civil society gather in Durban, left most local residents — aside from small groups of protesters — largely disinterested.

The summit garnered mixed feelings from residents and most people the African News Agency (ANA) approached about the WEF summit said the meeting held little relevance for them and would not help them in a meaningful way.

“If businesses invest in our country, that will mean more money that will give strength to the rand,” security guard Bheki Zuma said.

“If the rand would become stronger, the world would have more young entrepreneurs because the government would put more money out to invest in growing our businesses.”

He said that government was trying to help out, but there was too much corruption which is the reason why businesses do not grow.

“I am so hopeful about WEF, I think it is really going to improve the current state we are in, but the only thing the government must do is getting rid of corruption,” he said.

A man selling newspapers on the street, Sphe Zakwe, said that when he saw the road closures he approached the securities as he thought there might be job opportunities but was chased away.

“They told us we were not allowed and that the event was for rich people and investors,” said Zakwe.

He said that most of the community members are not aware of the WEF and that was because there were no posters on the streets of communities.

Zakwe is a young entrepreneur who sells chips, sweets as well as fruit and vegetables with his mother for which he has a permit that he needs to pay every year. He said that he would have loved to be invited along with fellow young entrepreneurs to learn more and be inspired but feels that locals are never involved in these big events.

“It’s a good thing that WEF was held in Durban because it’s going to boost our economy and we ordinary people will also benefit,” Zakwe.

A local businessman from Pinetown, Anand Singh said: “What I suggest is that they don’t look at colour or race but look at merit and who can do the job properly and the best. They should get more efficient people and not inefficient people you see when you walk into departments.”

Dennis Manqele a taxi driver at Durban station said that he was happy that WEF Africa 2017 came to Durban but what frustrated him and other people was that the taxi industry was not involved in the meeting.

“We play a very big role in this country’s economy,” he said

“These people shouldn’t just focus only on big businesses with huge investments because we also generate the same money that they are talking about in that meeting. The economy of the country was a very important factor which affected every citizen, from poor, middle and rich.”

Manqele said that he would love to see a change that would benefit all the people of the country so that the country would become a better place for all.

Meanwhile, outside the Durban International Convention Centre the South African Youth Alliance, an organisation that includes all the youth from civil society held placards at Bram Fischer road where the way to the Durban ICC was blocked, claiming that they demand “youth inclusive economy”.

Member of the SA Youth Alliance, Thabani Mthombeni said that said that they were sending a global message to express the grievances that ordinary people have.

“This is not the first WEF meeting to be held in South Africa but most of the issues that have been there are still the same. We want the government to stop taking decisions in those fancy offices without consulting people, more especially the youth because we are the majority and future of this country.”

African News Agency (ANA)


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