Things fall apart in the ageing Free State gold fields

December 4, 2017 Posted by admin

Schalk van der Merwe‚ executive member of the Goldfields chamber of commerce and provincial chairman of the Small Business Institute‚ said the entire Goldfields area was rapidly deteriorating‚ and was an example of what other parts of the country could look like in five to 10 years.

“At this point in time the local economy is in decline. Every week you hear of a new business that is closing down. Even the big businesses are suffering‚ the little guys are suffering‚” he said.

“The towns are dying‚ Virginia and Odendaalsrus are dying. The only town that is not really that badly affected is Henneman‚ because it was never a mining town. It was always an agricultural centre.

“But the rest of the Goldfields is going down, and going down very quickly.”

Van der Merwe said that while the effect of the mine closures was undeniable‚ the life span of the mines was well communicated.

“From national and provincial government‚ and especially local government‚ there should have been plans in the pipeline to address this problem. Because you are sitting with a number of highly skilled people‚ but these skills have become redundant now. It was for government to facilitate a new economy to be introduced‚” he said.

“Organised business has done extensive work over the years on planning new initiatives to grow a new economy out of the old but from government’s side there was never really any buy-in.”

Van der Merwe questioned the management of Matjhabeng’s debt book.

“For these guys to actually balance their books they must show that they have a huge amount of debt outstanding from the people that are supposed to buy from them.

“And we asked them for a list of businesses in the area who have outstanding debt‚ and we found some factories that have bills of R200m. That is impossible‚ you can’t even use that amount of energy‚ never mind be in arrears to that amount‚” he said.

Last week the municipality announced to its residents through a front-page article in a local newspaper that no one needed to fear the water supply being cut off come December 8‚ as Mokonyane has threatened.

“The Matjhabeng municipality has been consistent in sticking to a payment schedule with Sedibeng and Eskom. However‚ the challenge lies with the defaulters who have undermined council’s 85% revenue target. Matjhabeng will not be affected by the cut-off threat‚” Matutle said.

Article source: https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2017-12-04-things-fall-apart-in-the-ageing-free-state-gold-fields/

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