Speech by Limpopo MEC for Agriculture Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba at the Imbizo held with Makgoba community
11 Dec 2010
Executive Mayor of Mopani District Municipality,
Members of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture
Mayor of Greater Tzaneen Municipality
Setshaba sa ga Makgoba ka fase ga bogoshi bja
Kgoshi Mokopa Makgoba
Chairperson of the Board of Greater Tzaneen Economic Development Agency (GTEDA)
Senior leadership of government departments
Our partners in the agricultural sector
Representatives of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
When His Majesty, Honourable President Jacob Zuma addressed the third Africa – European Union (EU) summit attended by over 80 heads of states in Tripoli (Lybia) a week ago, he for obvious reasons picked on the subject of agriculture and food security by referring to agriculture as “ an engine of economic growth and poverty alleviation”.
He alluded in his address to the low productivity of the sector amongst other challenges. Considering that agriculture is the sector that creates the most jobs per R1 million invested, it is not surprising that it became one of the key subjects at a summit that was held under the overarching theme ’Investment, Economic Growth and Job Creation’. There is no doubt that the agricultural sector is the pulse – from which the heart beat gets checked to determine the level of development and potential in any growing economy.
It is a major concern for this government (and I know it is for Makgoba community) that the Makgoba Tea Estate has been lying unproductive for over six years. This sad reality resulted in job losses and arrested the job creation potential, denying many families means of livelihood while stifling economic growth. This scenario is in direct contrast with our Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) priority for rural development and food security for all and therefore such a wasteful use of scarce resources cannot be allowed to continue.
This Imbizo was convened as a consultative forum of people with a common interest to make Makgoba properties productive once more; to create jobs and small, medium and micro-enterprise (SMME) opportunities for the community; and to ultimately create value for the shareholders being the community when projects are at full commercialisation phase (build, operate and transfer – BOT).
The tea forest as it is now is not only a dead asset but it has become a bio-security hazard, threatening safety and economic viability of the adjacent commercial properties. It has become a risk and liability. Using Greater Tzaneen Economic Development Agency (GTEDA) as implementing agent, the department as new caretaker of the land together with the Mopani District Municipality and Greater Tzaneen Local Municipality have made a commitment to work with the community to restore the position of the Estate as an ‘engine of economic growth’ through the creation of not less than two thousand jobs.
Having taken over caretaker ship of the Tea Estate, we have set a structure that will ensure that Makgoba people are afforded the jobs and SMME opportunities arising out of the revitalisation and maintenance program before such opportunities are opened to the general public. Some of those opportunities will include water reticulation, renovation of the buildings, internal roads and creation of fire belts.
The program we are about to embark upon (starting not later than February 2011) will tap on the vast experience gained in the rejuvenation of Tshivhase Tea Estate whose product (branded as ‘Midi’ tea) has now reached the shelves of major retail stores like Pick ‘n Pay.
While an aggressive strategy has been adopted to market black tea, other ventures are being explored to find new income streams that will bring more value for the community like green tea extracts. Working with the community we will leverage on our strategic partnerships with the likes of Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and neighbouring agri-business institutions like Wesfalia Estates to strengthen other enterprises the community might wish to embark upon.
While this initial intervention will focus on revitalisation of the Estate, we know that there are many questions for which you want answers. Many of you have spoken through your leadership and it was brought to my attention that some even wrote a petition to the Deputy Director General for Rural Development and Land Reform (Pretoria) a month ago.
As property owners and beneficiaries of the restitution program you do have legitimate right to know about everything that happens with the Makgoba properties in as far as that should translate into tangible benefits for you. It is also our interest to know the full state of affairs of your businesses so that a sustainable solution is obtained to unlock full potential of the properties for your benefit.
With the assistance of the Ministry of Rural Development and Land Reform (RDLR) we have been engaging with the community structures in an effort to find a common purpose towards resolving all outstanding issues in order to achieve lasting peace and economic benefit for the entire community. An audit/investigation commissioned by the Ministry was subsequently conducted covering all properties that have been restored to the community.
My colleague, Deputy Minister gave me an assurance that he will communicate the outcome of the investigation to the community as his first assignment for the new year (mindful that he has been in the portfolio for just a month). In the meantime, the Regional Land Claims Commission will also embark on a process of re-verification of beneficiaries to ensure that no legitimate claimants are excluded from benefit from their ancestral land.
Having indicated that agriculture is the engine of economic growth, a study has revealed shocking statistics about the losses of skills and map-power in the farming sector to the HIV and AIDS pandemic. We should all be vigilant against this enemy.
As we round up the activities of the year in preparation for the festive season, it is our responsibility as government to urge all our people to go and celebrate responsibly, do not overspend, do not drink and drive.
Source: Limpopo Department of Agriculture
Issued by: Limpopo Agriculture
11 Dec 2010
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