The Executive Mayor of Tshwane, Solly Msimanga, briefed members of the media on Wednesday, 15 March on the City's progress with the establishment of the Informal Trading Board and Anti-Drug Unit.
In doing so the Executive Mayor detailed plans to harness small businesses to align them to inner city rejuvenation and procedures to curtail drugs and illicit behaviour in Tshwane. Cllr Msimanga said that the City of Tshwane has decided to host a summit for the informal traders to further hear some of their grievances but, most importantly, how the City can further assist them to make a living and flourish within the ambit of the law.
The summit is aimed at developing a more detailed understanding of the informal economy and its needs. It is also an opportunity to convey to informal traders that the Inner City Rejuvenation Programme is not designed to stifle their work. Rather, it is meant to create an environment that invites residents and tourists alike into the city, which will dramatically increase the influx of people into the city and increase the market to which informal traders can sell.
The rapid globalisation of the drug trade over the past decade has virtually ensured that no country is immune to the threat of drug abuse and drug crime. Therefore, South Africa has become a transit route for the drug trade and a major consumer of drugs.
The drug trade, drug abuse and all associated crime are an issue that the City has been seized with. This is evidenced by the Anti-Drug Unit that was established last year after Msimanga assumed office. This unit has had some success and is continuously intensifying its efforts to get drugs off the streets in Tshwane, including the CBD.
Furthermore, the City has partnered with the University of Pretoria to fight against drug and substance abuse. The most important aspect of this project is that it has initiated a significant shift in the approach to dealing with substance abuse. This is seen in the shift from victimisation of drug users, which was often characterised by sending the users either to jail or to short rehabilitation in rehabilitation centres where withdrawal and total abstinence are the sole aim, to a human rights, harm reduction and health care approach where early detection, harm reduction and care in the community through relationship building, support and re-integration into society are the main focus.
"No community will be a no-go area for service delivery. We believe that we can bring about the conditions that will draw investment, stimulate economic activity and create job opportunities. We believe that local government is ideally placed to drive economic development and support the ambitions of enterprising South Africans," said Msimanga in closing.