WHILE the re-imagination of Waterberg Local Municipality as a smart and a better district is seemingly flashing hope for economic development in Limpopo, land inequality remains a terrifying reality.
This was revealed at the launch of the Waterberg district development model hub in Bela-Bela by the minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the weekend.
The district development model hub follows President Cyril Ramaphosa’s initiative to launch three district development model pilot projects in the country including the Waterberg district.
Dlamini-Zuma said the issue of land monopolisation in the district has resulted in 47% of the land being owned by white men, with the residents occupying only 7.3%.
She has called on intergovernmental structures to ensure that the land is re-distributed evenly and that women and young people are on the forefront to create more opportunities and jobs for local residents.
While projects to the amount of R25 billion remain in the pipeline for economic development, the hub is the beginning of the implementation stage of the pilot project, which is aimed to turn the district into a centre of development within the province.
The agricultural, mining and tourism sectors remain the focus of the pilot project. Dlamini-Zuma also mentioned that the government has already started training more than a thousand young farmers in the Free State, however in the Waterberg district, locals have no land to implement their acquired skills.
“We want people to stay where they are and if they want to leave, it must be out of their choice and not out of desperation. People are leaving their homes to big cities like Johannesburg out of desperation and the cities are failing to cater for all of them and they end up living in shacks,” said Dlamini-Zuma.
The evident traces of corruption and mismanagement of funds that are penned down in the auditor general’s report are regarded as an obstacle to the success of the district development model, thus requiring an urgent intervention.
“We need to make sure that the finances of the people are managed properly,” added the Minister.
Some of the challenges that emanated from the discussions relate to governance, where inappropriate relations between administration and political leaders leads to poor interface, poor oversight and polarisation, resulting in poor service delivery.
The Limpopo MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (COGHSTA) Basikopo Makamu confirmed that 7 executives from Mogalakwena local municipality including the municipal manager and cooperative service director have been suspended after they were found implicated in corruption cases relating to supply chain.
Dlamini-Zuma also firmly spoke in disapproval upon learning that the mayoral council in Thabazimbi, which is one of the district’s local municipalities, allegedly decided to stop service delivery for 18 months.
“Who do they think they are? If it was in my power, I would actually dissolve that council with immediate effect. However, I leave it to you MEC Basikopo Makamu, the powers are with the province,” she said.
The Minister handed over a team of professionals including development planners, financial experts, engineers and managers who will monitor and support the municipalities with an aim of seeing the Waterberg district development model a success.
(COMPILED BY INSIDE METROS STAFF)