Anthony Benadie MPL
Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Mpumalanga has made an urgent appeal to the Mpumalanga Heritage Agency to intervene in the impending shutdown of the tourist town of Pilgrim’s Rest on 31 July.
Pilgrim’s Rest is classified as a provincial heritage site because of its tourism and historic value to the province.
The Heritage Agency is obligated to act in cases where a heritage site is under threat. The DA spoke to the Agency today and was told that while there are concerns about the on- going viability of the town, the Agency will only act after an economic collapse and not before it.
Public Works has awarded the majority of 21 business leases for core premises in the small tourist town to individuals or companies with no capital, business plan or knowledge of the town.
If the town and its economy starts collapsing from next month, this will have a domino effect on jobs in the tourism industry province-wide.
Businesses are already serving retrenchment notices to hundreds of workers because government failed to guarantee their job security in the new leases.
The careless actions of Public Works will turn Pilgrim’s Rest into a ghost town come August if these poorly negotiated leases for 21 core business premises in the town are allowed to go ahead.
The Heritage Agency cannot sit back and allow this to happen, they must intervene now for the sake of jobs and the tourism industry as a whole.