17 December 2018


Mebala Ya Rona Biodiversity Conference to benefit communities


Khuitsemang Diseko


In a few days' time communities in Bokone Bophirima would have an idea about how best they can make money out of nature. From farming plants - many with medicinal value, to trading in wildlife.

Bokone Bophirima Provincial Government is hosting its inaugural Mebala Ya Rona Biodiversity Conference, which kicked off at Pilanesberg's Bakgatla Gate on Thursday.

The provincial government's aim is to create opportunities for the people of Bokone Bophirima to benefit from their land and live off it. The Mebala Ya Rona Biodiversity Conference is important to the government's plans to boost economic growth and empower people to fight the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

MEC for Rural, Environment and Agriculture Development, Manketsi Tlhape, whose department is driving the three-day conference said the conference will also help fast-track the provincial government's programme of transformation for the biodiversity sector.

"The conference is a platform where we are bringing communities along the parks, players in the industry and government to discuss issues pertaining to wildlife transformation in the province," the MEC said.

She emphasized that it was important that stakeholders in the industry got together to highlight the challenges faced by the sector and develop coordinated solutions.

Bokone Bophirima Premier, Supra Mahumapelo, said the province was happy to finally host its first annual gathering of stakeholders in the multi-billion rand wildlife industry.

"The Mebala Ya Rona Biodiversity Conference is very important for us because it comes at a time when the Fifth administration has taken a decision that in implementing the National Development Plan (NDP), we must make sure that we focus on the Rebranding, Repositioning and Renewal of this province," he said.

Premier Mahumapelo said all the challenges that the province faced will serve as an opportunity "to advance further the resolve for us to transform our economy, to grow our economy, to create jobs, and to deal with inequality an unemployment.

"So, the Mebala Ya Rona Biodiversity Conference will help us realize these strategic objectives of the NDP of dealing with poverty, unemployment and inequality".

Mahumapelo said his administration believed that it would not succeed with reducing the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment if it did not take steps to ensure that the economy is inclusive and that citizens of Bokone Bophirima worked together to achieve that success.

"That is why as a province we have decided that in order for us to achieve our strategic goals, we are going to focus on the five concretes - the first being Agriculture, Culture and Tourism (ACT); the second being the Villages, Townships and Small Dorpies (VTSD); the third being Reconciliation, Healing and Renewal (RHR); the fourth is the Setsokotsane programme while the fifth concrete is the Saamwerk- Saamtrek strategy," Premier Mahumapelo said.

The three-day gathering ends on Saturday 15 October with a wildlife auction. Wild animals will be sold on auction and the proceeds will go into a fund that will help support the transformation of new entrants into the industry, particularly communities on whose land the industry is striving.