Posted: May 12, 2021
Richtersveld Local Mayor and our host Cllr Authur Jansen.
Namakwa District Executive Mayor, Mervin Cloete.
MEC for Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform, our District Champion, Ms. Mase Manopole.
MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, Mr Abraham Vosloo.
MEC for COGTA, Mr Bentley Gavin Vass.
Richtersveld Municipality Local Municipal Manager, Mr Sidney Adams.
Namakwa District Municipal Manager, Mr Christiaan Fortuin.
Senior managers representing Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environmental Affairs.
Senior managers representing the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure.
Senior officials both from Namakwa District and Richtersveld municipalities.
Ladies and gentlemen.
I am excited that we have managed to hold this District Development Model meeting here in this municipality and especially, in this small coastal town of Port Nolloth. I am saying this because when we resolved last year that our next stop would be the Port Nolloth town in 2021, fears for 2nd wave COVID-19 were weighing heavily on everyone of us. We thought things may get worse again and prevent us from movements and physical contact meetings. As we were approaching this month, with winter beginning, fears of 3rd wave came to haunt us again that we may be prevented again from having this visit. That’s why I am excited by this meeting sitting today.
I also want to express my appreciation and thanks to the MECs for setting aside other commitments associated with their public office, which is always compounded by being busy, and have come to attend and add value to this engagement. Generally I must express my gratitude to this government of Northern Cape right from the Premier who gave me a Carte Blanche to do as please in coming in and out of the province, and work directly with any of the MECs and Mayors in the province. My responsibilities in this province are in two layers: As a the dtic Deputy Minister, one of my province on trade, industry and competition matters, but the President assigned me as a champion to this District of Namakwa in terms of the District Development Model. And so, I will always be part of the extended member of this government of the province, so long as I am with the dtic.
Arising from District Development Model engagement last year both virtual and the last one in Springbok, the product of which was the Nine-Point Plan for Namakwa District, we resolved that we are going to zoom in into Local Municipalities that are forming an anchor of the District so that we appreciate their capacity to play a role In catalytic projects as enunciated in the Nine-Point Plan and where there are weaknesses our task is to make interventions. District Development Model requires that a single plan of development is made on the basis of achieving “One district, One plan and One budget”. In that context, the elimination of silo mentality whereby the national, provincial and Local government plans and bring development in one district in an uncoordinated manner than mutually reinforcing each others. The district is this case is like an Airport tarmac whereby an Aeroplane full of passengers [National government, provincial government and Local municipalities] lands and disembarks these passengers in a coordinated way. No projects must jump the District if it affects the jurisdiction of the District and so is a Local municipality must have a role to play even if a project is a national or provincial project in terms of its initiation. As an example the impending revitalization of the Port Nolloth harbour by Public Works and the Boegoe Bay Deep Sea projects must enjoy a participation of the District and this Local Municipality even if its provincial or national government and its budgets.
Seamless coordination of government work and projects assist us in fast tracking developments, eliminate bourocratic red tapes as all decision makers converge in district level from all spheres of government. But that seamless coordination helps in preventing double-deeping from service provider companies.
We want to assure the host municipality here today that we are not here as a big brother carrying a stick to judge you. We are here as other layers of government within the DDM structure to make assessment of you with the intention to assist where can against the background of what we expect this municipality to deliver in the overall vision of the district model. And so, we expect an honest status report that will reflect a true picture so that we can have a healthy discussion. What are the economic projects existing in this municipality and challenges if any. The District will also reflect on the overall anchor responsibilities to the Local municipality in terms of support. I am happy that we have provincial leaders too.
Port Nolloth town is a historical coastal town in this country. It has to be protected and it has to be developed further. This town used to be known in the indigenous Nama language as “Aukwatowa” (meaning “where the water took the old man away”), it was later called “Robbe Baai” (meaning “Seal Bay”). The area of Port Nolloth since time immemorial was frequented for centuries by the “Strandlopers” (ancient people along the Cape living through hunting and fishing in the coast) and later the Khoekhoen (the ancestors of the Nama people who were nomads, surviving on precarious farming and sea food on the coast. That is why even today, this town is a fishing town and the presence of Fisheries Officials today is to ensure that we revive Fisheries economy. It was the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias who came in 1487 and recorded the history of this town, and that ushered in the arrival of white settlers in this area.
The discovery of copper in Okiep in 1852 towards Springbok resulted in the general interest of whites to conduct surveyance of this surrounding coastline which was led by Captain M.S Nolloth in 1854. This town was seen as appropriate for the harbour in order for shipment of copper ore to Europe. The railway whose line still noticeable outside this municipality building on the road, was constructed for the old mule-drawn and later steam powered engine train to transport copper. Our interest in revitalizing this harbour and modernize it is born out of the realization that in todays economy this harbour will play an even more important role and must cater for fisheries small vessels. This revitalization of Harbour is not for the first time. In 1926 the harbour was revived after the discovery of Alluvial diamonds in the South of Port Nolloth and investors to the diamonds invested to its renewal as a substantial service centre for the area. By 1960 Port Nolloth was the only coast in the World where gem quality diamonds could be dredged from the ocean floor by remote deep sea operations and divers.
This town is today a growing attractive tourist area both from the country, neighboring Namibia and overseas. Its mild climate along Atlantic coast and its unique biodiversity including breathtaking landscapes makes it a candidate for us to explore very strongly building tourism economy. Already there is growing Guest Houses and B&Bs bearing testimony to the tourist demands. All of these aspects are very much of what should go into broad thinking of the District Development Model bring closer the Department of Tourism for a brainstorming session including the players in the tourism here and the Municipality.
It is within this context that today we are here in Port Nolloth, a historic town and an old town of our country. Let’ this meeting begin!