Resource centre opened at Ubizo
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.
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.
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