Community leaders must also shoulder blame

Luwamba Project Committee Chairman Sibusiso Dludla holds a skull of one of the dead dairy cows

THE spectacular collapse of the landmark Ntambanana community project, established to inject much needed development in the economically depressed area, raises a few questions.

Launched in 2013 to much fanfare, well over R80-million was invested to provide bulk water supply, set up various agricultural projects and establish a multipurpose centre for community training and public services.

The main purpose of this major initiative was to bring about job creation and a commercial hub which would, with proper management, eventually bring long-lasting prosperity and hope to the Ntambanana people.

Co-funded by a public-private partnership between the then KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize, the uThungulu District and multinational company Tongaat Hulett, the project had everything going for it.

The government structures and their private sector partner did a sterling job of setting up all the necessary logistics to ensure this would become a role model venture.

All it needed to blossom was the committed input of the community, tilling the lands, expanding livestock programmes and turning newly available training initiatives into entrepreneurial opportunities to boost local commerce.

Instead, in less than four years, this project has disintegrated into ruin.

Nothing came of the 11 000 hectares of land set aside for crop production, livestock rearing and tourism.

All the dairy cattle and pigs have perished, the chicken farm chickens stolen and the once flourishing vegetable gardens are now overgrown with weeds.

Water tanks, pumps, tractors and a generator have also been stolen.

Training, services provision and the clinic at the state-of-the-art Luwamba Centre have for all practical purposes become non-operational.

Conveniently, the community blames the former Project Administrator for squandering funds and accuses the Office of the Premier of ‘letting them down’.

While there may be merit in their charges in the sense that the provincial government did not monitor progress on the project it funded, the question can also be asked whether community leaders can absolve themselves from blame.

What proactive action did they and the various project managers take to arrest the situation when they clearly witnessed the wholesale theft of assets and the disintegration of the projects taking hold?

They also have something to answer for.

Dave Savides

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