Muyexe village is given its due
President Jacob Zuma’s rural development programme is taking shape after he delivered on most of the development projects he promised to the people of Muyexe about two years ago.
Situated about 40km north-east of Giyani in Limpopo, the remote village of 900 households was a pilot project for the then new Zuma administration.
The village had been ravaged by years of unemployment, low skills levels and limited formal education.
Zuma had pledged to improve Muyexe’s socioeconomic infrastructure within two years as part of his comprehensive rural development strategy and to use the lessons learned to develop other rural parts of South Africa. He also promised to boost existing community-owned projects, create jobs and redistribute land in the village.
City Press reported in July 2009 that the community of Muyexe had given the government a list of 21 priorities they wanted as soon as possible.
The list included basic items such as water and electricity, the building of a crèche and a fence to protect them from wild animals from the neighbouring Kruger National Park.
When City Press visited the village again this week, it found almost all of the items requested had been provided or were still being provided,except for street paving, a police station, library, shopping centre and reliable water.
The area’s facelift was clearly visible, as was the mood among the locals.
Most were cashing in on short-term contract jobs in various government projects such as street-cleaning, grass- cutting and construction of houses.
Newly built RDP houses could be seen all over the village. Houses in the village now have numbers similar to those in the townships. A satellite police station and a mobile clinic operate daily from 7am to 6pm.
A state-of-the-art multipurpose centre consisting of a community hall and post office was fully functional.
At the newly built Ben Muyexe Early Learning Centre, City Press found 65 pupils busy with their lessons.
Surprise Mabasa, a teacher and one of the 10 people employed at the crèche from last month, said it was relief to have the centre as children from her part of Muyexe could not attend school across the river when it rained, because there was no bridge.
She said: “Zuma has really done a lot for us. We now have jobs and projects have been introduced.”
At the entrance to the village, construction was under way for the new sports centre. One of the 20 locals employed there, Cedric Makamu (32), said construction started last month and the centre was scheduled to be completed within six months.
The visibly excited Makamu said: “It has been happening here since 2009. There is virtually no one who is not working on community projects.”
He showed City Press’s staff a site next to the sports centre where he said the police station would be built.
Modjadji Hlungwani (69), who told the publication during its previous visit that her priorities were a house, water and vegetable garden, now has an RDP house and a garden.
“We are happy about the house and garden, but we need water. I still pay R1 for a 25-litre drum of water,” she said.
Judish Shivuri (30), Muyexe’s community liaison officer, said about 900 short-term jobs had been created and 365 houses built, as promised.
“When they started talking about developing Muyexe two years ago it sounded like a story. We just believed for the sake of it – but the development we have seen to date is unprecedented,” Shivuri said.
Zuma’s spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa, said the development of Muyexe was proof that “JZ does not make promises. He makes commitments and undertakings”.
But despite the president’s exceptional achievements at Muyexe, he still faces challenges.
While green Jojo tanks have been provided to enable locals to collect and store rain water, the area gets hardly any rain.
Locals said the recently fixed boreholes were unreliable, while the project to bring running water from Nandoni Dam, near Thohoyandou in Venda, had yet to take shape.
They were not sure when construction of the new shopping centre and clinic would start.
Electricity had also not yet reached the village’s new extensions, although affected locals said Eskom’s officials told them two weeks ago that electricity would be rolled out by the end of the month.
Although he was grateful for the Jojo tanks his family received, Hlungwani’s husband, Mbhazima (71), complained that they had been so badly installed that water from the roof lashed the wall of his two-roomed house, causing extensive damage.
“Where am I going to get the money to fix the house?” Mbhazima asked angrily.
“I have raised this at many meetings, but nobody is interested.”