Community co-operatives can empower people and fix joblessness

 Community co-operatives can empower people and fix joblessness

Community co-operatives can empower people and fix joblessness - moladi
Community co-operatives can empower people and fix joblessness - moladi

Solve unemployment by tackling needs

Housing guru says by using SA’s myriad sectoral challenges to provide a market, community co-operatives can empower people and fix joblessness. Millions of South Africans still live in shacks and government has a backlog of 3.2 million houses to provide but this and other sectoral challenges can be used to solve joblessness, housing entrepreneur Hennie Botes says.

BY GUY ROGERS - 22 June 2021

Solve unemployment by identifying SA’s problems and empowering communities to fix them and in so doing give communities access to the economy.

That is the message from housing entrepreneur Hennie Botes whose plastic formwork mould invention has seen Nelson Mandela Bay-based Moladi rolling out mass housing projects all over the world.

Botes said government’s stated drive to combat unemployment was making no progress because it was failing to link need and production and how precisely it was going to create jobs.

“With an unemployment rate of 32.6% and the highest youth unemployment in the world, we can shout from the rooftops that we are going to reduce joblessness but as the founding father of the US, Benjamin Franklin said:

"Well done is better than well said"

“To solve the problem we need to look at a product that has meaning, that will fill a need.”

He bemoaned how more money was being spent on salaries instead of building houses, saying this had contributed to the 3.2 million housing backlog nationwide.

President Cyril Ramaphosa should begin by calling an imbizo of ministers, directors-general and premiers to debate and prioritise SA’s challenges in different sectors.

“We need to get our political leaders on board and understanding how these challenges cross-cut to impinge on the work of different departments and how all these challenges prop up the new common enemy which is joblessness.”

Botes, who started out as an apprentice tool-and-die maker with the railways after matriculating in Durban, said the next step was to establish a new entity that would bridge the gap between politicians and the people.

“Where at present there is a political voice trying to drive job creation, this new co-operative would supply a business voice.

“Co-operatives would be established around the country in every town and training would be given to ‘co-operative governors’ who would then assemble their best teams to represent each community.”

He said the co-operatives would have a bank account and the departments would channel their budget allocations to these accounts as projects were identified, tackled and completed.

“For housing projects the co-operative would apply for subsidies on behalf of resident beneficiaries and then the co-operatives would use that money to allow the community to build their own houses.

“In this way we shorten the supply chain, eliminate corruption and create jobs.

“The biggest hurdle for any small medium and micro enterprise is the market and suddenly the market would be right there.

“They would be producing for themselves and then as they completed what they had to do they could take their skills to service other communities further afield.”

Botes said the co-operative would bring in a housing expert to teach them how to produce component parts, from doors and windows to roof tiles, trusses and even paint, and then to build the houses themselves.

“I am confident Moladi can build houses faster, stronger and for less but if the co-operative wants to hire another company that would be fine.

“The point is the community and the co-operative representing them would be able to decide for themselves.”

He said government had never used mass housing as leverage to negotiate with cement suppliers but the co-operatives could do this.

“It would give them instant access to the economy, which so many of our people still do not have.”

He said the envisaged co-operative would be the first part of a broader plug-in strategy that could be used to engage with many of SA’s challenges and opportunities.

The self-sufficiency that could grow from this process could address other problems like urbanisation.

“Rural communities can be encouraged to stay on the land, grow food and market it to the cities.”

He said he had submitted his proposal to 13 ministers and their directors-general including human settlements minister Lindiwe Sisulu and the presidency.

He said only higher education and training minister Blade Nzimande had responded, saying “he “must contact the Setas [Services Sector Education and Training Authorities]”.

Ramaphosa’s acting spokesperson, Tyrone Seale, told The Herald that: “The presidency project management office will engage or guide Botes on his proposal.”

Patrick Brennan, researcher at the NMU department of development studies transition township project said he agreed with Botes’s proposal.

“We would like to know more details but it’s exactly in line with what we are working towards.

“It could trigger a huge expansion in production and reduction in unemployment.” 

Human settlements department spokesperson Steve Motale said they were committed to the empowerment of SA citizens wherever projects were implemented.

“We always encourage contractors not only to build houses but to ensure there is skills transfer to the community.”

He said one of the programmes the department was especially proud of was the people’s housing process or zenzeleni where people were part of the building process, and in one of the zenzeleni projects in Vulindlela in KwaZulu-Natal, 20,000 houses had been delivered.

“So, any programme that is aimed at empowering our people has our full support.”

In April 2019, three houses were handed over to beneficiaries in Walmer township by the human settlements and small business development departments in terms of the same process. - Link 

Keywords: moladi, community, co-operatives, empower, people, fix, joblessness, unemployment, SMME, poverty, education, Ministers, dg, Hennie Botes, housing, backlog, plastic, formwork, building, method

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