Job opportunities now as plantation reopens

PEOPLE living with HIV-Aids will get a new lease on life after the reopening of the Magoebaskloof tea project outside Tzaneen, Limpopo.

This after the provincial department of agriculture announced it would reopen on April 1.

It had set aside R15million to reopen the tea plantation, which was closed 10 years ago. This had left more than 5000 people without jobs.

According to department spokesperson, Kenny Mathivha, the decision to reopen follows a memorandum of understanding signed between the government and the Makgoba community.

Mathivha also said negotiations were at an advanced stage with an American-based pharmaceutical company to produce medications that will be used to treat HIV-Aids, arthritis and other diseases from tea leaves picked at the plantation.

He said discussions were being carried out jointly by various stakeholders, including the national Department of Agriculture and the Greater Tzaneen economic development forum to make the tea project a success.

"We are confident that hundreds of local people will get full-time and casual job opportunities once the project starts functioning," Mathivha said.

The cleaning-up of the plantation at the former Sapekoe Tea Plantation is expected to start in the coming financial year. Mathivha said the reopening of the plantation had been delayed by disputes over land.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Makgoba Community Trust, Thupana Makgoba, said they were relieved by the government's intervention because "the nightmare of unemployment would now be over".

He said the reopening would help put Limpopo in general and Tzaneen in particular, on the map as soon as it started functioning.

"It will also play a pivotal role in the eradication of poverty in the Greater Tzaneen area," Makgoba said.