Louis Trichardt - A R54 million comprehensive rural development programme is expected to boost the impoverished area of Matsila outside Louis Trichardt.
The programme, funded by the National Lotteries Board, is a partnership between the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, the non-governmental organisation Resource Africa and the Matsila Community Development Trust.
Director of the Matsila Community Development Trust, Livhuwani Matsila, said the programme would include the establishment of a food-processing factory, an organic farm and a composting facility for the production of organic fertilizers.
He said the programme had already received R5 million from the National Lotteries Board to build offices, a guesthouse and an arts and culture centre. The programme would also include crop farming, cattle farming as well as chicken and goat farming and a piggery.
"We also intend to have an abattoir, and canned fruits and juice processing factories here," Matsila added.
He said hundreds of unemployed residents from Matsila and surrounding villages such as Nkuzana, De Hoop, Ha-Masia and Sinthumbule would find jobs once the planning stages had been completed.
The launch coincided with the launch of an electrification project that provides electricity to 50 houses in Ward 8 of the Makhado Local Municipality.
Former president Nelson Mandela's grandson and leader of the Mvezo Traditional Council in the Eastern Cape, Zwelivelile Mandela, who is also a portfolio member of parliament for Rural Development and Land Reform said he was pleased to see progress in any rural area.
"The village that I come from is called Mvezo and it is renowned for its rich history, culture and heritage as the birthplace of Rolihlahla Mandela, one of the greatest statesman in the world today," he said.
Despite its heritage, Mvezo is "still bedevilled by massive service underdevelopment", he said. He said there were poor road infrastructure and a lack of basic services like running water, primary healthcare, sanitation, electricity and quality education.
He said the government was aware that the challenges in Matsila were common in most rural areas in the country and had therefore identified rural development as a priority over the next five years.
"This government is conscious that our people in rural area face the harshest conditions of poverty, food insecurity and lack of access to basic services on an almost daily basis," he said. "Women, in particular, who form the majority of residents in rural areas face the burden of poverty even more."
Chairman of the National Lotteries Board Professor Alfred Nevhutanda said that every year, the National Lotteries Board collected between R2 billion and R3 billion and returned between R1.5 billion to R2.5 billion to communities.
He encouraged other communities to join forces with NGOs in the same way the Matsila community worked with Resource Africa to access lottery funding.