The late president of the former Bophuthatswana, Lucas Mangope, has been hailed for his contribution to the homeland’s economy. He is also said to have been instrumental in building various industries in the homeland, creating jobs for his people.

Some of the big infrastructure developments such as government buildings, stadiums and roads are still in use today.

Mangope died last Thursday at the age of 94, at a local hospital in Lehurutshe.

While some people regarded the late Kgosi Mangope as an apartheid puppet because of his belief in the homeland system, others have described him as a visionary leader, who had the interests of his people at heart.

During his tenure, Mangope created many jobs through industrialisation across the homeland. He also introduced legal gambling in Southern Africa through Sun International Resorts such as Sun City, Mmabatho Sun, Taung Sun and Thaba Nchu Sun.

Winston Rabotapi, Democratic Alliance Member of Parliament, who was the founder and youth league president of the then Bophuthatswana Christian Democratic Party has remembered how Kgosi Mangopes’s administration prioritised job creation.

“You would look in the industry; you would go to Garankuwa; go to Mogwase; go to Moretele; go to Mmabatho; go to Ganyesa; in every region, you would find a small industry and people were busy doing something. His job was not to make people rich, but was to provide bread and candle on the table.”

Mangope’s friend, Omphitlhetse Madikong, says the former homeland leader also believed that agriculture was the backbone of the economy.

“Rre Mangope believed that agriculture was actually the backbone of the economy of the land. Another thing which Rre Mangope … I knew his heart was to see young people developing into powerful entrepreneurs on their own. His heart was more on raising the economy through the involvement of young people.”

Madikong’s sentiments were echoed by former Bophuthatswana Deputy Governor in Moretele, Bafitlhile Pule.

“You know the legacy that he left was job opportunities; even farming used to produce a lot of employment because lot of ploughing would give us a lot of food and many people would be employed. That was his legacy.”

The then regional organiser for Mangope’s party, the United Christian Democratic Party (UCDP) Mazulu Motona says his former leader taught the people not to rely entirely on others.

“Kgosi Mangope taught us how to catch a fish so that you must not depend on other people.He had a furniture factory in Motswedi. He was cutting trees in Motswedi and made furniture – the best furniture which was even imported overseas and even the Garona building where the parliament is now, that furniture was delivered there.”

Reverend Cornelius Kgobokwe, former Bophuthatswana Minister for Public Works and Transport, says Mangope managed to boost the then bantustan’s economy, as his government fully subsidised industries.

“He wanted to see every area having industries where people would also improve their lives. The government had a hand by subsidising, so that the Batswana people in different areas could get jobs and improve their lives.”

Reverend Kgobokwe says Mangope also believed in investing in infrastructural development, which saw the construction of stadiums, government buildings, the airport and many other big projects.

Mangope will be laid to rest on Saturday in his village of Motswedi in Lehurutshe near Zeerust.