Finding hope in bleak future

2018-06-06 06:02
Mthetho Lalu - social observer

Mthetho Lalu - social observer

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Radical economic transformation should be about building a more equal society.

This can be achieved if government prioritises the marginalised.

This approach is significant to remedy the socio-economy of the forgotten Xhariep District, one of the five districts of the Free State.

Such an approach can improve the poor through actions that promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

I come from the small town of Rouxville, which is like other small towns facing huge socio-economic challenges due to high poverty and unemployment – a bleak future for our youth.

Rouxville, like other small towns, benefitted from the economic boom in the 1970’s and 1980’s via the apartheid economic streams, such as the railway line network which saw an influx of labourers in and out of the town.

The past regime via its Provincial Administration infrastructure programme assisted a lot in creating jobs for local and neighbouring men. Despite that this crested social-ills and broke many family lives, the programme was beneficial, I must say.

The closing down of the so-called model C schools contri­buted in the declining of the local economy because farmers moved their children elsewhere to cities and no longer bought at local shops.

They rather buy from bigger towns where their children attend school. Some white farmers sold their pro­perties to settle with their children in cities or started new businesses somewhere.

As is the case with Rouxville, small towns were left with nothing except the Dutch Reformed Church in one street and a cooperative to service the few remnants of white farmers who were still in business.

Infrastructure and buildings continue to deteriorate due to lack of maintenance.

Relocation of farmers and closing of business resulted in huge job losses. Presently many people depend on state social grant for survival.

There are plenty of unused land for residential purposes but there is no budget to build infrastructure. What do you do when you are from the Xhariep small towns of Rouxville, Smithfield, Philippolis, Springfontein, Luckhoff and others?

If it happens that government expropriate land without compensation in the Xhariep District, will it be a permanent solution to our local economic woes, or will it just be a drop in an ocean?

Most of our towns are entry-exit points to other cities: Bloemfontein: 178 km, Durban: 750 km, Johannesburg: 580 km, Cape Town: 975 km and East London: 587 km.

Transport corridors can be great to revive the economy if money is spend properly and sustainable projects are set up, like building a regional taxi rank in Rouxville.

Think about the Gariep Dam and the diamond mines in Jagersfontein and Koffiefontein, who are the shareholders.

Does the Mining Charter addresses the ownership and shareholding by the previously disadvantages individuals?

  • I am trying to answer all questions to reposition our people in Xhariep regarding the visit of the Constitutional Review Committee on land, and to spark the exploration of ideas suitable for the revival of the Xhariep socio-economic model and attract investment. Mthetho Lalu wrote in his own personal capacity.

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