The KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) spent more than R40 million developing Ixopo during the 2014/2015 financial year.
Ixopo, which falls under the Buhlebezwe Local Municipality, is one of the municipalities that benefited from the Small Town Rehabilitation Programme in the province. The main objective of the Small Town Rehabilitation Programme is to grow the economy in rural areas and create a safe and clean environment that will attract investment and promote growth in the area.
This was revealed by Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube at the official opening of the newly built taxi rank, disaster management centre and fresh produce farmers’ market recently.
The department spent R2 million on the taxi rank project, R4 million on the disaster management centre, R16 million on the fresh produce farmers’ market and R20 million on the electrification of Mahhehle, Mkhunya and Ofafa villages.
The programme created short-term jobs and other sustainable jobs could be created by the private sector investment that the programme is likely to attract.
“Our government is in the process of buying a portion of land, with a view to grow the economy in this area. We all have a role to play to keep the city clean and ensure that new businesses are opened,” said MEC Dube.
She added that the Buhlebezwe Municipality is one of the richest areas in terms of agriculture.
“Before the fresh produce market, farmers around here were supplying hospitals and correctional service centres in the area. Now their production will have to increase as they will be supplying the market as well,” said MEC Dube.
Mbali Mthembu, the manager at the fresh produce market, said the market gets customers from as far as Mzimkhulu and Durban.
“The market opens five days a week and every Wednesday we have market day specials. All our prices go down because we want to attract the locals to buy here, rather than going to big supermarkets,” she said.
Siyabonga Miya, 30, the owner of M&C cooperative, that produces vegetables such as spinach, pepper, butternut, tomatoes, dry beans and pumpkins, said that before the market opened they were only supplying two shops. “Both these shops take time to pay. The market is helping us get bridging capital while we wait for our payments,” said Miya.
Disaster Management Centre
MEC Dube said the opening of the disaster management centre in Buhlebezwe would minimise delays in responding to emergencies. “When there is a fire or road carnages people used to be stuck in their cars for hours, waiting for an ambulance or fire rescue team. Now all of these problems will be thing of the past, as the municipality has its own fully-equipped disaster centre,” MEC Dube said.
The establishment of the disaster management centre and the fresh produce market created more than 70 job opportunities for the youth in and around the area. The disaster management centre hired 51 youngsters, while the fresh produce market hired over 20.
Inkosi Phathisizwe Chiliza, of the Emadungeni Tribal Authority, said they were happy to see such developments in rural areas.
“This really shows that our government means business by developing rural areas,” said Chiliza.