21 April 2019


Mebala Ya Rona will help fight poverty and unemployment - Mahumapelo

by: Khuitsemang Diseko   date:

The Mebala Ya Rona Biodiversity Conference must help Bokone Bophirima Provincial Government intensify its battle against poverty, inequality and unemployment if it is to provide any lasting benefits to local communities.

This is the view of the Premier, Supra Mahumapelo, who last Thursday officially launched the three-day meeting of experts in the biodiversity sector at the Bakgatla Gate Resort in Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Mahumapelo told delegates that platforms such as the Mebala Ya Rona Biodiversity Conference should create space for the province to advance its programme of radical socio-economic transformation, by getting black people into the biodiversity sector.

"We have decided that we will embark on a campaign which is Rebranding, Repositioning and Renewal (RRR) of the province. We have also decided that as part of embarking of the RRR of the province we will prioritize five key areas. These five key areas we call them the 'new normal' of the people of Bokone Bophirima," Premier Mahumapelo said.

The five key pillars are Agriculture, Culture and Tourism; the Villages, Townships and Small Dorpies (VTSD); RRR, Reconciliation, Healing and Renewal (RHR); Setsokotsane and Saamtreek-Saamwerk.

"One of the reasons we have gathered here today is to look at the nitty-gritties and the details of how we must make sure that we succeed in our quest to achieve the objectives of the ACT, which is the first concrete of the RRR approach developed by the people of Bokone Bophirima," he said.

The Premier said poverty was one of the key things that needs to be defeated through economic growth.

"Poverty can breed instability and where there is instability there can't be economic growth," he said.

The conference's biggest mandate was to ensure that ways were found to bring those who were on the edges of the mainstream economy closer.

The gathering was held under the theme "the Business of Nature".

MEC for Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development (READ), Manketsi Tlhape, said there were many opportunities that residents - especially the youth of Bokone Bophirima can gain from the biodiversity sector.

"There is a whole range of job creation opportunities in game drives, game ranging, taxidermies, animal tracking - all these things is what we want to create awareness about and expose it to our people and say: here are some business opportunities," she said.

The provincial government undertook to support new entrants into the industry, especially as the initial cost of entry can be seen as prohibitive. To do that, a wildlife auction was held on Saturday night, raising some R200 000 to support new entrants to the sector.

Kgosi Kagiso Pilane of the Bakgatla, who was also a delegate at the gathering, said he welcomed the event being hosted in his area as it would bring massive spinoffs for communities living around the scenic Pilanesberg Game Reserve.

"A conference like this helps sell our area (to tourists)," he said. "We have to remarket ourselves," Kgosi Pilane said


Kgosi Pilane emphasized that more needs to be done to make people aware of the area's enormous potential in the bio-trading and bio-prospecting space, tapping on indigenous knowledge systems from people such as Grace Masuku, one of the delegates that attended the conference.

The man who conceptualized the idea of having a gathering of bio-diversity experts - a first of its kind by a province in South Africa - Jonathan Denge, the Director for Biodiversity Management in the province, told Semphete that the sector has got the potential to make a serious contribution to the province's goal of growing an inclusive economy.

"We have all the resources that can be utilized for the benefit of our communities but the biggest challenge has always been that people have not been aware (of its potential). This has always been a one-man market show. Our communities own land, they have a lot of potential but unfortunately it has always been used for cattle-farming (and nothing else).

We are not saying that cattle-farming should not be done; it can co-exist with all these other activities that can be able to yield much better benefits for the people," Denge said.

Denge believes the Mebala Ya Rona Biodiversity Conference is the beginning of a campaign to change people's attitudes towards land use.

To ensure that the agreements made at the conference are not mere words, Denge said the conference would be supporting several projects in the area, which would show the benefits of promoting the biodiversity sector.

Importantly, Denge said, the conference aimed to promote transformation of the sector so that more black people can participate.

"We know it's gonna take time as it's always been white people who have had the privilege to have facilities that support this whole biodiversity issues. But I think, let's see how we can grow the pie, and as we grow it we have a change for inclusivity," Denge said.

He added that one of the reasons for having the conference was to come together and 'hold one another's hand' in the spirit of Saamwerk-Saamtrek so that all can benefit from the sector.

One of the delegates at the conference, Lucky Mokotedi from the Baphalane Property Association said he attended the conference to get more information about breeding because that's what he's interested in.