Anthony Benadie MPL
Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga
The Mpumalanga Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport (DPWRT) has awarded a tender for the Pilgrim’s Rest Golf Club for a mere R33 per month, to a construction company. The company, known as Matletele Construction and Projects was also awarded the tender for the Pilgrim’s Rest Caravan Park at a ridiculous R48 883 (for five years), despite other bidders tendering over R1,2 million for the same property.
While the current management committee of the Pilgrim’s Rest Golf Club tendered R158 208 (for five years) for the continued operating of the golf club, they were not successful. In the case of the caravan park, at least three other bidders tendered substantially more than the successful bidder, which begs the question, why award a golf club and caravan park to a construction company, and why do so at absurdly reduced revenue (rent) rates? (See Attached documents)
During a media broadcast aired last night, the CEO of the Pilgrim’s Rest based mine, Mr Lloyd Birrell confirmed that his company, Stonewall Mining TGME, will be expanding its operations with the potential creation of an additional 1500 employment opportunities.
Undoubtedly, such expanded mining growth will have a substantial impact on the economy of this small tourist town. Mr Birrell also indicated that the mine had submitted a proposal to government on the restructuring of Pilgrim’s Rest, to ensure that while the historical heritage and value of the town is preserved and protected, the town can expand.
As the mine expands, so too the demand for infrastructure, housing, sewer and retail stores will increase. However, due to the nature and dynamics of Pilgrim’s Rest, limited land is available for such expansion, rendering current open spaces such as the Pilgrim’s Rest Golf Club and the Pilgrim’s Rest Caravan park prime land for possible future housing and commercial development.
Thus, is access to land, for the purpose of future development, the motive behind government’s move to evict 18 of 21 businesses from Pilgrim’s Rest?
The DA is seriously concerned that government’s move to evict the current operators of the caravan park and golf course and awarding these to a single construction company, could pave the way for another infamous dodgy land deal. We are concerned that the possibility exists that DPWRT will dispose of this land, due it being non-essential to basic service delivery, enabling a private individuals to attain ownership of this valuable open space. Such a private individual could technically then sell this land back to the department of Human Settlements for the construction of houses.
While this scenario is indeed speculative, its occurrence is not impossible, considering government’s track record on dodgy land deals in the recent past, and the absurd tender allocations made in these two instances.
As the race to save Pilgrim’s Rest from collapse on 31 July intensifies, the DA will interact directly with the Stonewall Mine, in an attempt to attain copies of the proposal submitted by them to government. We will then interact with the HOD and MEC of the Department, to explain what they intend to do or have done about the proposed expansion of this town.