Rural Development : Winds of Change in Muyexe

Pretoria - The affects of the changes taking place in the small and dusty town of Muyexe in Limpopo through the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) will be felt for generations to come, reports Nthambeleni Gabara.

While still an impoverished village, the residents now boast of newly built houses, a library and computer centre for its youth.

No one is more excited and grateful about the changes than village headman Khazamula Ben Maluleke.
"Change is now noticeable in this village. Everyone is delighted because development is what we needed," he said.

The town became the centre of attention in August last year when the Department of Rural Development decided to use this particularly rural area as a litmus test for the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme. The programme, now being rolled out in other parts of the country, is government's national collective strategy to jointly fight against poverty, hunger, unemployment and lack of development in rural areas.

Rural Development spokesperson Mthobeli Mxotwa who recently visited the rural village near the Kruger National Park said the village now has a library and a computer centre. A community hall has also been built.

"The community now has 283 decent houses built specifically for the poor who did not have adequate accommodation or had dilapidated houses," he said.

While access to water has always been a challenge for the villagers, Mxotwa said boreholes have been drilled to provide water for the community that previously had to buy water at R1 per 25 litre from those with boreholes in their households.

"The borehole's water is pumped into a reservoir. However, this supply of water still needs to be reticulated to the houses.

The department has augmented the small water supply by providing the villagers with water tanks that harvest rain water. Moves are also afoot to draw water from the Nandoni Dam (in Thohoyandou) to the Nsami Dam where it will then be distributed to four other villages including Muyexe. The Independent Development Trust (IDT) and the Mvula Trust have also donated 499 water tanks to households.

According to Mxotwa, 39 villagers are being trained in basic computer skills, while others are being trained in bookkeeping and financial management, brick making and project management.

"Eleven Muyexe youths with matric have been given learnerships for twelve months to study programmes in construction and other community based skills and they are paid a monthly stipend. The villagers informed us that they needed advanced training in information and technology and we heeded their call." he said.

Fencing to about 300 homestead gardens are nearing completion. Presently, villagers use tower gardens which have been provided by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, while the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has helped fence the Macena Community Garden and has provided a nursery, storeroom and irrigation system in the form of a borehole.

Residents have a contract with a local Spar where they sell their vegetables. The surplus is sold to the community.

The National Development Agency funded the Muyexe Early Childhood Development project with an amount of R29300 in 2002 to build a crèche which served as an oasis of hope to the community in general and children in particular. In 2010 the project was further funded with an amount of R1 012 100.00 for capacity building on good governance; project and financial management skills (eleven people have been trained); building a bakery and procuring bakery equipments; transport and stipends for the bakery employees.

The local health clinic has been upgraded from a small visiting clinic to a fully-fledged clinic manned by four professional nurses and provides primary health care for the community.

Vodacom and MTN cellular have since installed high masts for network connectivity.

"Two hundred and fifty-four houses will have electricity connection during this financial year. All designs have been completed and the project will start soon," said Mxotwa.

The Muyexe Primary School and the local secondary school, Hatlani High School have been renovated.

Presently a satellite police station manned by nine policemen and four reservists has been built for the village. The satellite police station operates 24 hours a day - previously the area had no police station.

However, the newly built post office is not operational as it does not have electricity connection.

Tender processes have been completed to build a R4.4 million multi-purpose sports centre that will cater for various sporting codes. The project is being driven by the Giyani local municipality.

A building constructed to serve as a Thusong Centre (MPCC) has since been converted into a community hall after the Thusong Centre was moved to another village

Since there was no adequate road to the village, the Department of Roads and Works has upgraded a six kilometer stretch of connecting road to Muyexe.

When President Jacob Zuma launched the programme in August last year, he said at least one person from each household in the small, impoverished village will be employed for a period of two years. Residents, who previously had to depend on social grants for a living, are now able to land jobs in the infrastructure development projects such as the building of the MPCC and the construction of community houses.

Deputy Chairman of the stakeholder council, Mafemane Maluleke said: "Within this short period, the village is no longer looking the same because of the huge development brought to us by government. We are no longer traveling to Giyani to access basic services."

Integrated Development Plan (IDP) manager at the Giyani Municipality Louis Mabunda said: "There is significant improvement in terms of projects and lives of the people. When one arrives at that village, one can easily see that there is change and this has brought confidence to residents," he said. - BuaNews