Community project turfed out despite pleas
AFTER many months of trying to engage with the local municipality, the Zikulise Community Upliftment Project faces the imminent threat of being evicted.
The registered non-profit organisation has served the community from the Empangeni Arts and Crafts Centre on Turnbull Street for the past 14 years, by providing income generating skills training to the local unemployed.
However, they are now threatened with being rendered homeless at the end of the current month as a result of a purported decision by the councillors of the uMhlathuze municipality.
Zikulise is appealing to the public for assistance as ‘it appears the City of uMhlathuze is not prepared to assist us in helping community members.
‘We have had the benefit of occupying the municipal buildings at a very nominal annual rental and has enjoyed the support of the municipality for the past 10 years with Mayor Mhlongo the official patron of Zikulise,’ said a spokesperson.
‘Such support as was previously advanced has allowed Zikulise to advance its training to participants and create a community service which has received world-wide acclaim.
‘Through such acclaim Zikulise donors have assisted in upgrading the buildings to provide a window to showcase the centre and indeed to provide a springboard for the development and growth of local entrepreneurs.
‘The centre has, as a result of generous donors, been upgraded to meet the needs of a growing training centre and has been used as a window to exhibit the success stories of trainees.’
However, this project is now sadly in jeopardy and should a compromise not be reached with the officials of the City, Zikulise may be forced to close its doors and relocate to a new venue thereby depriving potential trainees with an opportunity to acquire skills.
‘Unfortunately, municipal representatives have informed Zikulise they do not intend renewing the lease and that the organisation must make way, as early as this month, for the National Youth Development Agency,’ said the spokesperson.
‘The municipal officials have stated their preference for that agency.
‘Whilst every effort has been made to engage with the municipality, including an offer of sharing the premises, it appears that the local councillors are intent on evicting Zikulise at a time when training is much needed in an ever dwindling employment environment.’
To date over 5 000 members of the Zululand community from impoverished homes have benefited from receiving training at no cost to them as a result of this iconic Zululand organisation and its fundraising efforts.
‘Zikulise would like to continue to embrace the drive to create job opportunities and align itself with the government’s agenda to address job creation, entrepreneurship and the eradication of poverty,’ the local NPO noted.
Zikulise has operated from the Empangeni Arts and Crafts Centre for the past 10 years - but that is about to end