THE PORTFOLIO Committee on Economic Development has expressed its disappointment after hearing that the local communities that are supposed to be the beneficiaries of two lodges in the Madikwe Game Reserve , Buffalo Ridge and Thakadu receive a mere 10 percent of the profits.
The committee learnt that the lodges, which were built in 2005 and 2006 respectively, have not yet generated enough profits to be used to enhance the lives of the beneficiaries, since the profits are still being used to pay off the initial loans and debt incurred for building the establishments.
The committee said that the Trust needs to ensure that the beneficiaries are supported through training and skills transfer as to be able to run the lodges instead of outsourcing the responsibility; and requested that these challenges be addressed by the North West Parks and Tourism Board together and departments.
The committee enquired about the proceeds that arise out of the concession benefits for the surrounding communities, and why communities only own two of the 33 lodges in the reserve.
The committee was unsettled by the absence of Senior Officials of the North West Parks and Tourism Board, since the Parks Manager who briefed the committee was not in a position to answer these and pertinent questions related to the local economic empowerment of the community members.
The Provincial Department of Tourism was instructed to ensure that the committee is provided with this information in a written report within 7 days.
Meanwhile, the committee has commended the Management of the Royal Bafokeng on the working relations between the tribal authorities, provincial and local government.
The committee was told about the various projects run by the Bafokeng Enterprise Development which includes the in-house hospitality school which has trained about 50 students to date.
The vision is to increase this to 150 students per semester. The committee was impressed by the Royal Bafokeng empowerment of local service providers for things such as cleaning services, laundry, etc and the consideration of outside service providers only where specialised skills are not locally found.
The committee also learnt Royal Bafokeng’s contribution to social services acts as a supplement to the services provided by government. Management of the Royal Bafokeng Enterprise told the committee that while being able to assist and provide these various projects, the company has also felt pinch of economic downfall, especially as it relates to the declining performance mining industry in the area.
The committee implored the stakeholders, including the tribal authorities and the corresponding provincial departments, to deploy more efforts in ensuring that the relations between them are ever improved, as guided by the intergovernmental relations framework. The committee remains of the view that the partnership in its current form, presents an opportunity for unique and exemplary governance model that can and should be replicated elsewhere.