5 October 2011
For 15 years, Makgadi Moloi and her family lived in a mud house with no electricity or running water. Her four children slept on the floor in one small room with desks for study.
Now the Molois, along with 50 other families from the farming community of Diyatalawa outside Harrismith in the Free State, can look forward to a brighter future, thanks to a Free State provincial government and Department of Rural Development and Land Reform housing scheme that has proven successful in the area.
President Jacob Zuma, who visited the projects on Tuesday, encouraged the department to roll out the scheme to other poor communities in the area.
The Free State was the third province to be visited by Zuma following his recent assessment of health and education service delivery in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape.
The 74-square-metre houses that replaced the mud structures previously occupied by residents of Diyatalawa are all fitted with solar energy, which comes handy for those who cannot afford electricity.
‘We can now say we have a home’
Moloi, who was among the first beneficiaries of the project, told BuaNews that apart from the fact that she was now able to fit more furniture into the new house, her children were now able to do their school work in the comfort of their own rooms.
“The house has more space and it has really changed a lot of things for us, and we can now proudly say we have a home since we received it,” said Moloi. “Considering where we are coming from, we cannot ask for anything better.”
For 68-year-old Winnie Mokoena, the bigger house has meant that she can now invite family members to come visit her home. “I was very happy when I finally had a house of my own that is this big, it’s a dream come true for me and my children,” Mokoena said.
Free State Rural Development MEC Mosebenzi Zwane told Zuma that authorities were in the process of attaining an electricity substation in the area to back the solar energy system, which in most cases is unable to meet the community’s energy needs.
“The solar that is there can only cater for lighting; if people want to do other things they can’t, so we are attending to that, we are speaking to Eskom about it,” he said.
Rural development programme
Diyatalawa was identified as one of the pilot sites in the province for the government’s nationwide Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP).
Other projects in the area include poultry and cattle farming, which the authorities hope will help alleviate the effects of unemployment and underdevelopment.
On Tuesday, Zuma also assessed work done on graveling access roads, and progress in the construction of a new school, creche and multi-purpose centre.
“We are happy that some progress has been made in most of the projects we visited today, and I can tell you we visited many of them,” Zuma later told a community gathering.
“We are here not only to monitor service delivery but also to see what is working and what is not working and where we can improve … But as government we want to hear from you, because for us to improve we have to take suggestions from you.”
Zuma said the government saw the growth of the rural economy as crucial to curbing poverty in South Africa.
“Development has to take place everywhere, not only in the cities, so this is one of our priorities as government.”
Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said communities needed to take control of the projects, with the state only needing to play a facilitator role.
“We are here to say, look, the government can do this for you and assist you there, but in the process this is what you as a community can do to help yourselves with the resources we are providing,” he said.
Nkwinti said officials from his department would be meeting with emerging farmers in the area of Harrismith with the aim of skilling them with the necessary knowledge to venture into commercial farming.