Mayor Set to Spur Major Economic Talks
DOUGLAS – Various stakeholders will converge at Douglas in an all-out-effort to revitalize the local economy soon. The talks are aimed at designing a roadmap towards a new and innovative strategy to promote the growth of the Siyancuma Local Municipality. Representatives of private sector, labour and civil society will be part of this all important assemblage of thinkers. Siyancuma Local Municipality Mayor Lorraine Senye is determined to turn around the fortunes of the municipality by entrenching a mindset shift among its key economic actors. Siyancuma Municipality is home to the Northern Cape’s largest alluvial diamond mining operations and to some of its wealthiest farmers. Ms Senye has vowed to extend calls to mining houses and the farming community in enhancing her vision of reinvigorating and igniting the municipality’s growth.
Douglas is the seat of the municipality where South Africa’s two major rivers meet, the Orange and Vaal, with the Orange marrying the Vaal and meandering its load into the Atlantic at far-flung Alexander Bay. Now, the Mayor Senye hopes that the sweet meeting point of Douglas would bring about a confluence of ideas. “Siyancuma is well endowed with significant mineral wealth, high potential agricultural land and a commensurate water resource. R800 million is lost annually owing to unexploited economic opportunities. My challenge as Mayor is to see to it that the economic potential of the area is maximized in order to provide as many of our residents as possible with a sustainable livelihood. “However, the reality that I have observed is that there is very little cooperation or collaboration between various economic actors. Communication between the public and private sector is poor, the mining companies in our midst produce mine Social and Labour Plans that don’t necessarily dovetail with Municipal Integrated Plans.
Similarly, largescale commercial agriculture does what it does with little reference to local government. “To make matters worse it is debatable whether or not any of our efforts advances either the Provincial Growth and Development Strategy or the National Development Plan. We hoping to establish an advisory body.” Municipal Manager Mr Piet Papier added that the tourism potential of the municipality could also be revived with the luring of investors who could assist the municipality in turning around its tourism assets such as its resort and the confluence site.
A partner in one of alluvial diamond mines, Mr Thabo Makweya, told SolomonStar that his entity will be donating trucks and bakkies that the municipality is in desperate need of; “in enacting our transformative outlook for the benefit of the people of Siyancuma, our partnership with the municipality shall be in giving strategic support beyond the assets we committing.” With many mines having been brought back into production, with diamond prices having stabilized and the farming community enjoying good summer rains, the scheduled talks might enjoy a good embrace.
The Siyancuma Municipality is home to over 35 941 residents from 10 191 households. Key towns and settlements are Douglas, Griekwastad, Riet River and Schmidtsdrift. Added to its list of restituted communities that are endowed with minerals such as the Schmidtsdrift community, is Bucklands which possesses high potential agricultural land with water rights. The African National Congress (ANC) is the governing party of the Municipality with a majority of eight wards (81.1 percent). Additional source; The Local Government Handbook South Africa 2017.