Herbert Theledi
Herbert Theledi

Economic participation in underprivileged black communities is paramount

By Opinion Time of article published Sep 20, 2021

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OPINION: The core tenets of an equitable and prosperous society do not lie in only donating money or food hampers to underprivileged individuals and communities.

By Herbert Theledi

ON SEPTEMBER 1, 1991, former minister of planning, provincial affairs and national housing Hermanus Jacobus Kriel signed into effect the Less Formal Township Establishment Act.

This meant that all those who sought to establish a township had to do so by submitting a comprehensive application.

At the time Act no 113 of 199 stipulated that applications had to be accompanied by plans, documents, permissions, approvals and applicable fees.

It also indicated that applicants had to have a valid copy of a title deed in respect of the land they were looking to establish a township on.

Interestingly, the nominal fee which applicants had to be paid to the administrator at the time was only R10.

But I digress.

Prior to the Less Formal Township Act, there was the infamous Native Administration Act, 38 of 1927.

This particular Act made a provision for the government to establish a township.

It was spearheaded by then minister of Bantu administration and development Michiel Coenraad Botha.

It was a means of providing stands for African citizens in certain areas of land held by the “South African Native Trust.

This Trust was established by the Native Trust and Land Act, 18 of 1936.

This Native Administration Act summarily made it highly impossible for our people to own substantive pieces of land across the country.

Given that painful experience, it would be worthwhile to reflect on the strides and achievements that Black South Africans been made since then.

When, in 1994, South Africa transitioned from apartheid to a democratic nation which endeavoured to be equitable for every citizen, I saw a gap.

This complex transition made me realise that there was an opportunity to utilise every opportunity and resource at my disposal.

I wanted to propel myself and others out of the poverty that we, as black South Africans, had been condemned to.

There was now an opportunity to create a property development juggernaut that would foster opportunities for poor black townships and rural communities.

Through this dream and sheer determination, I established Nthoese Developments right there in 1994.

Decades later, the vision hasn’t shifted nor changed.

The vision has always been to ensure that the majority of property development and CSI work we are involved in focuses largely on the well-being and progress of these townships and rural communities.

Some of the largest townships in the country today include Soweto, Tembisa, Katlehong, Umlazi, Soshanguve and Khayelitsha, to name a few.

We realised that as a country, we needed to focus on the collaboration between black-owned businesses and construction workers – a move we have since prioritised.

In doing so, we have found that we are investing in the growth of black-owned SMEs and equally providing black individuals with an income as well as the knowledge of how the property development and construction industries work.

With this knowledge they can leverage on future business opportunities.

In the long-term, these individuals and businesses will expand, collaborate with and integrate other black-owned SMEs and individuals into the economy – invariably uprooting and eradicating deep embedded poverty.

For instance, through the establishment of projects such as the Bambanani Shopping Centre in Diepsloot and the Thulamahashe Mall in Bushbuckridge, Nthoese Development highlights the important role that pioneers and entrepreneurs have played by employ hundreds of black individuals and opening dozens of small businesses - thus creating a sustainable employment environment in South Africa.

The existence of these projects also highlighted our love for economic participation and growth of black communities post-apartheid South Africa.

Furthermore, the establishment of these shopping centres mean our people now have access to essential facilities such as banks, grocery stores and postal offices, among other things.

These projects also ensure those who are previously disadvantaged are not excluded as the rest of society advances.

But the development of our people not only lies in growing commercial property portfolios but also the growth of places such as churches and NGOs which are often used by those who seek to stand up on their own and escape poverty.

These areas serve as a place of refuge for them.

Therefore, ploughing back in our communities and providing something as simple as office furniture or supplies needed for day-to-day operations of these NGOs and churches ensure they are victorious in their quest to assist community members.

I’m a firm believer that all resources that go into marginalised communities should be for their long-term betterment.

The should promote self-sustainability of those communities.

The core tenets of an equitable and prosperous society do not lie in only donating money or food hampers to underprivileged individuals and communities.

Rather, it lies in providing those marginalised communities with long-term investment resources that will help cultivate successful businesses and liberate them and future generations from poverty.

*Theledi is the founder of Nthoese Development.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.

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