R9.3-million and nothing to show for Limpopo tourism project

Government says the project is discontinued

| By

Community members, who had hoped the Tshakhuma tourism development project would bring jobs and business, point to where a conference centre and heritage site were supposed to be located at the Tshakhuma Dam. From left to right: Glen Raphulu, ​​Mulatedzi Nemutavhani, Joel Mulaudzi, Lesley Singo, Osily Rofhiwa Nyamande. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare

  • The Department of Tourism spent R9.3-million on the Tshakhuma Conference Development Heritage and Tourism Project near Thohoyandou in Limpopo.
  • The project ground to a halt in 2014 because the service provider mismanaged the funds according to the department.
  • Nothing remains to be seen of the little work that had been accomplished on the project seven years ago.
  • The community hopes someone will come in and do the project since government says it will not revive it.

Proposed in 2010, the R28.5-million Tshakhuma Conference Development Heritage and Tourism Project near Thohoyandou in Limpopo was meant to create jobs and bring tourism to the area. A conference centre and 20 camping chalets were planned.

Instead, the Department of Tourism paid a service provider R9.3-million before the project ground to a halt in 2014 with very little to show for the expenditure.

According to Lesley Singo, who worked for nine months on the project, a site office was constructed, the area was cleared of bush, and a small makeshift footbridge was built.

Asked what work was done to warrant a payment of R9.3-million, the department told GroundUp it was for site clearance, purchase of a bakkie, a fridge and bags of cement, and the payment of a planning consultant and the training of workers.

GroundUp visited the site on 9 April. Thick bush has grown back over the area that had been cleared and a maize field now stands where the site office once stood.

The land at Goedverwachting farm near Tshakhuma Dam had been allocated by the Traditional Council to the Department of Tourism for the project.

Been Around GP Advert and Consulting CC (BAGP) was the service provider.

It failed to comply with the contract, mismanaged the project funds, and a criminal case was opened against the service provider, according to Seapei Lebele, Tourism Acting Chief Director at the national Department of Tourism.

We were unable to trace or make contact with BAGP.

“The community is really waiting for this project,” said Joel Mulaudzi, a community leader. He said the development would create much-needed jobs and boost economic activity for local small businesses and vendors.

For a while, the project employed about 130 people from the community.

The Department of Tourism claims it met with the Tshakhuma Community Trust in 2014, informing the trust that the project was discontinued pending a criminal case against the service provider.

Lebele said the project is not going to be revived. The department had advised the trust to liaise with and seek approval from the Traditional Council to take over the project.

Chief Netshavhani Edson Ramadi from the trust, speaking through an interpreter, said in 2014 he informed the community of the developments. He said he hoped the project would be revived to help reduce youth unemployment.

He said he would welcome anyone willing to take over the project and contribute to the development of the community.

But Osliy Nyamande, a community leader, said the community have had no feedback since 2014 from the trust or the department.

“If the department feels the project has been stopped forever it must give us permission to get people who can take over the project,” said Nyamande.

Meanwhile, Singo and other former workers wait, hoping that someone will someday resume the development.

GroundUp tried for days to confirm with the department what had happened with the criminal case, where and when it was opened, and which law enforcement agency was investigating. A reply will be added if received.

Update

The Department of Tourism said the matter was reported to the Assets Forfeiture Unit and South African Police Services at Sunnyside Police Station in 2011 already, who referred it to the National Director of Prosecutions.

Update on 2022-04-22 15:53

The article was updated with a response from the Department of Tourism saying the matter was reported to the Assets Forfeiture Unit and South African Police Services at Sunnyside Police Station in 2011 already, who referred it to the National Director of Prosecutions.

Fikile Mbalula is going after us for R2 million. We must be doing something right. Support news that matters. Please donate to GroundUp.

Snapscan
Donate using SnapScan.
Snapscan QR code

TOPICS:  Economy Government Unemployment

Next:  Court battle over whether you have to pay to protest

Previous:  Can technology help fix state clinics?

© 2022 GroundUp. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and GroundUp, and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

We put an invisible pixel in the article so that we can count traffic to republishers. All analytics tools are solely on our servers. We do not give our logs to any third party. Logs are deleted after two weeks. We do not use any IP address identifying information except to count regional traffic. We are solely interested in counting hits, not tracking users. If you republish, please do not delete the invisible pixel.