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Minister Molewa and Tshwane Executive Mayor Ramokgopa visit eco-furniture factory in Ga-Rankuwa, Pretoria

26 June 2015

 

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa and the Executive Mayor of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, Cllr Kgosientso Sputla Ramokgopa, today, on 26 June 2015, participated in a site visit at an Eco – Furniture Factory in Ga-Rankuwa, Pretoria.

The Eco-Furniture Project, implemented through the South African National Parks, is a partner in the Department of Basic Education’s systematic approach to address the needs of schools. Through its Working for Water (WfW) programme, and with funding from the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), the Department of Environmental Affairs initiated the programme.

Having started in 1995, the Working for Water programme is the largest public-funded project to eradicate invasive alien plants and improve water resources in the world and has created over 180 000 full-time jobs over the past two decades. Invasive alien vegetation is used to create and produce value added material by previously unemployed workers.

Invasive alien species cause billions of rands of damage to South Africa's economy every year. These plants pose a direct threat not only to South Africa's biological diversity, but also to water security, the ecological functioning of natural systems and the productive use of land. They intensify the impact of fires and floods and increase soil erosion. Of the estimated 9 000 plants introduced to this country, 198 are classified as invasive. These cover about 10% of the country, with the problem growing exponentially. These plants can consume enormous amounts of our scarce water resources.

‘’We underestimate the threat of invasive alien species at our peril. Their ability to convert natural systems, as well as agricultural systems, to waste lands can undermine all ecological, and economic development, foundations in our country. For example, it has been shown that water catchments can dry up completely, when invasive species displace the indigenous vegetation. Not only do the rivers not run, but even if the invasives are cleared, the rivers may still not run for years. This is because the ground-water reserves may also have been depleted and must first recover before the rivers can run again.’’

‘’The point is that we have to control invasive alien plants, and that is the first priority of this Eco-Furniture Programme, and the associated value-added industries,’’ said the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa.

The Ga-Rankuwa Eco-Furniture Factory is one of City of Tshwane's flagship programmes and the expansion to the area has ensured skills development amongst the marginalised. The programme has developed an industry around the clearing of invasive biomass, converting the trees into usable material and manufacturing an assortment of furniture products. The programme aims to capitalise on the latent value of invasive alien plants by manufacturing products in line with government needs while maximising job creation and skills transfer.

Addressing attendees at the Eco-Factory, The Executive Mayor of Tshwane, Cllr, Kgosientso Ramokgopa said “the vision of the City of Tshwane resonates with that of National Youth Policy of 2009 – 2014 which aims to build “an Integrated, holistic and sustainable youth development, conscious of the historical imbalances and current imbalances and current realities, to build a democratic South Africa in which young people enjoy and contribute to their full potential”.

“The City is very well aware of the three key challenges confronting our country. - Chronic poverty, unrelenting unemployment and inequality” he added.

The City of Tshwane’s overall objective is to contribute to government’s New Growth Path and the job creation agenda. The factory has assisted the City’s efforts to fight poverty by creating sustainable job opportunities and develop skills among the poor.

Download speech by Minister Edna Molewa

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