Communities want employment within forest

2018-02-23 06:00
PHOTO: suppliedThe community members during a meeting.

PHOTO: suppliedThe community members during a meeting.

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PEOPLE who oversee a commercial forest in Bovini village outside Umzimkhulu were held accountable by the local community who wanted answers about why they are not giving back to local people.

On Tuesday, community members of 10 villages assembled in Bovini village with the managers of the forest and said that when the forest was established in 1998, they were promised that their lives would change for the better. Some said the forest was meant to create jobs for locals, provide bursaries for the youth and better the lives of people in the area.

Operations were stopped by community members on Monday as they wanted answers.

One of the community members, Linda Mbele, said in his village there are many unemployed young people who are supposed to work in the forest but are not employed.

“The meeting ended peacefully. The people who manage the forest promised to address our complaints. If they fail, people will decide otherwise. People want locals to get jobs; not to be excluded,” Mbele said.

Operations in the forest resumed after the Tuesday meeting and people said that on March 15 they will have another meeting to discuss the issue further.

The management of the forest declined to comment, saying negotiations are under way with locals to find a way forward.

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