South Africa sets aside billions to revitalise mining towns

17 March 2015

The Gauteng government will spend R240-million to develop economically depressed former mining towns in the province, according to the provincial minister of human settlements, co-operative governance and traditional affairs, Jacob Mamabolo.

He was speaking at Grootvlei Mine in Springs on 16 March, after he handed over toilets and a farming project to the community. It also received extra taps, with the help of the city of Ekurhuleni.

“We have brought in a sponsor in the form of Red Ants Eviction and Security Services, [which is] going to start a garden with the community,” Mamabolo said. “They told us that the land can produce 45 000 cabbages. The community will be able to eat and sell some of them for income.”

His department would help the community to register a co-operative with the provincial department of economic development so they could sell vegetables to retailers.

Community leader Jeremia Aphane said residents were very happy with the services the government had brought to the area. “The garden project is more exciting as it has potential to create more jobs. We are going to set up a committee so that we make sure every household has someone who works in it,” he said.

The Gauteng intervention in mining towns is part of a broader effort that is being overseen by the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements.

A budget of more than R9-billion had been set aside for the revitalisation of mining towns and the eradication of informal settlements, it was revealed when the portfolio committee met the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) responsible for the development of mining towns and eradication of informal settlements, on 10 March.

The government contributed R6-billion of the overall funding, while mining companies had contributed more than R3-billion, the committee said.

The IMC is leading the implementation of the Special Presidential Package for Distressed Mining Towns, set up by President Jacob Zuma to revitalise mining communities and eradicate informal settlements. The IMC comprises representatives from the departments of Human Settlements, Mineral Resources and Labour, as well as The Presidency.

The package includes 15 towns in Limpopo, Gauteng, North West, Mpumalanga and Free State, as well as 12 labour-sending areas in Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. There are 136 informal settlements in the municipalities, and 119 National Upgrading Support Programme (NUSP) priority informal settlements.

According to the provinces’ business plans, there are 87 projects, of which 52 are under way, with 24 029 planned units and 8 197 completed units.

The portfolio committee called for guidelines to be drawn up setting out the criteria for how much funding mining companies should contribute to the package, as well as other relevant projects.

SAinfo reporter