Re­source cen­tre opened at Ubizo

Zululand Observer - Monday - - ZO BUSINESS - Larry Bent­ley

MEM­BERS of a rural farm­ing com­mu­nity, the Ubizo

Com­mu­nal Prop­erty As­so­ci­a­tion (CPA), who were pre­vi­ously dis­pos­sessed of their land, cel­e­brated the open­ing of a grower re­source cen­tre.

The Ubizo com­mu­nity, which is 15km north of Em­pan­geni, took oc­cu­pa­tion of the new­lyren­o­vated re­cently cen­tre.

The Ubizo CPA in part­ner­ship with Ton­gaat Hulett em­barked on the ren­o­va­tion project af­ter re­al­is­ing a need for the CPA to have a pro­fes­sional en­vi­ron­ment where they could pro­ceed with their daily op­er­a­tional needs.

In 1995 a land claim was lodged by Inkosi Nsikayezwe Ce­bekhulu on be­half of the Ubizo com­mu­nity.

In 2015 the land claim was ap­proved and saw the ac­qui­si­tion of 2 547ha of land val­ued at R136-mil­lion by the com­mu­nity.

Fol­low­ing the land ac­qui­si­tion, an old build­ing was iden­ti­fied and marked the be­gin­ning of the devel­op­ment of the grower re­source cen­tre.

Great-grand­fa­ther honoured

The cen­tre was re­named Umz­imba House to hon­our the great-grand­fa­ther of the cur­rent Inkosi.

The of­fice fa­cil­i­ties will be used by the CPA, while Ton­gaat Hulett man­age­ment will also use the of­fices in its var­i­ous en­gage­ments with the CPA and other stake­hold­ers in and around Em­pan­geni.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion has com­mit­ted to play­ing a key role in fos­ter­ing so­cioe­co­nomic devel­op­ment in the com­mu­nity.

The ren­o­va­tion project cost R725 000 and has a re­cep­tion area, of­fices, meet­ing and train­ing rooms, five ablu­tion fa­cil­i­ties, a kitchen and stor­age area.

Ton­gaat Hulett signed a 10year lease agree­ment that will see the com­pany lease 1 750ha from Ubizo CPA to grow sugar cane.

Train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties

The com­pany has ap­proved the train­ing of two in­di­vid­u­als from the com­mu­nity for a three to five-year train­ing and devel­op­ment pro­gramme, which will even­tu­ally see them be­com­ing farm man­agers.

The com­pany in part­ner­ship with the CPA will also iden­tify young, qual­i­fy­ing lo­cals who they will fund to at­tend a ju­nior cer­tifi­cate course in sugar cane agri­cul­ture, which will in­tro­duce them to some of the va­ri­eties of sugar cane, en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors that im­pact sugar cane farm­ing as well as crit­i­cal skills re­quired in the foun­da­tion phase of plant­ing.

Nkonzo Mh­longo, Ton­gaat Hulett So­cial & Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment man­ager, said the com­pany had plans to fa­cil­i­tate a se­nior train­ing course in sugar cane agri­cul­ture as well.

‘The in­ten­sive course will tar­get ben­e­fi­cia­ries al­ready work­ing within the sugar sec­tor as ex­ten­sion of­fi­cers or sup­port staff within the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.’

Multi-use of fa­cil­ity

Thomas Ce­bekhulu, chair­per­son of Ubizo CPA, said there are more plans to diver­sify the use of the fa­cil­ity to ben­e­fit more mem­bers of the com­mu­nity.

‘We are sched­uled to have talks with the Depart­ment of Health about el­derly peo­ple col­lect­ing their med­i­ca­tion from the re­source cen­tre in­stead of hav­ing to travel to a hos­pi­tal that is on the out­skirts of Em­pan­geni.

‘We also want to have com­puter and in­ter­net fa­cil­i­ties in­stalled to make job search­ing much eas­ier for our young peo­ple,’ he said.

Makhosi Ce­bekhulu, deputy sec­re­tary of Ubizo CPA, said she was proud of the legacy the CPA will leave for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

‘I am ex­tremely proud of our part­ner­ship with Ton­gaat Hulett and know that in the long run, it will im­prove the lo­cal econ­omy through var­i­ous in­vest­ments.

‘The new of­fices will be of great ser­vice to the com­mu­nity.

‘Peo­ple will be able to bring their sug­ges­tions and is­sues re­quir­ing our im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion in a pro­fes­sional en­vi­ron­ment,’ she said.

Nokuthokoza Ndlela Zulu, com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager at the Of­fice of the Re­gional Land Claims Com­mis­sion, said she was happy the com­mu­nity was stead­fast in cre­at­ing a bet­ter fu­ture that will be of ben­e­fit to all lo­cals.

Chief Di­rec­tor of Resti­tu­tion in KZN - Ad­vo­cate Bheki Mbili, Founder of Ubizo CPA - Inkosi Nsikayezwe Ce­bekhulu, Ton­gaat Hulett Chair­man - Steven Saun­ders and Ubizo CPA Chair­man - Thomas Ce­bekhulu cel­e­brate the open­ing of Umz­imba House

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