The Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Limpopo has indicated that the infrastructure development is expected to commence this financial year.

SEZ spokesperson Tshamano Makuya says that R310 million has been set aside for water reticulation infrastructure, electricity and fencing. More than R150 billion will be used to establish factories in the Musina-Makhado corridor.

However, there is opposition from some landowners, about the establishment of the project, arguing that it would damage the environment.

A group called the Mulambwane Property Association (MPA) owns 12 farms between the Louis Trichardt and Waterpoort areas.

The farms are affected by the development of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The group is in negotiations with the SEZ Board to lease some of its farms for development.

However, there is some resistance from the land beneficiaries to the lease of the farms.

MPA secretary Aubrey Luvha dismissed the group opposing the leasing of land saying it is against development. Luvha says they have agreed to lease 8000 hectares to the SEZ.

Luvha says, “We have 12 farms which comprise of 14 000 hectares and we will be able to release about 8 000 hectares where the community is going to benefit, the entire country will be able to benefit they will be part of the economy and also they will be able to get jobs, the companies will be able to operate locally here.”

However, MPA spokesperson Tshiwela Tshihuwa, which is against the leasing of the land, says there have been no proper consultations. Tshihuwa says whether they will benefit from job opportunities has also not been made clear to them.

“We don’t want it because the project owners did not engage us and the owners of the land. We want to protect our ancestors’ area where we perform rituals, we want to protect our indigenous trees, we are not happy that graves of our family members will be relocated. We appreciate the creation of jobs but they are not coming out clearly as to how are they going to create them and how are we going to benefit. They are not clear about that.”

Spokesperson of the Musina-Makhado SEZ Board, Tshamano Makuya, says infrastructure development is expected to start in the northern parts this financial year.

Makuya says, “The EIA approval or the environmental impact assessment approval for the north side was approved in 2016 and consequently we are in the process of the development site which we believe will commence this financial year and that is to develop water infrastructure, integrated security infrastructure, electricity infrastructure which will commence as I said this financial year and the budget allocated there is the tune of R320 million.”

Makuya also says the project will need large volumes of water, but adds that they have devised some plans of how to access it.

“For our medium-term solution, we conducted a pre-feasibility study for the development of Musina dam; this is an initiative that has been found to be technically sound. Wherein we will harvest water from the Sand and Limpopo river. In the long term, this is a solution that is envisaged which is to get water from Zimbabwe and this project is being worked on by Musina-Makhado SEZ with the department of Water and Sanitation,” added Makuya.

Earthlife Africa on Musina-Makhado SEZ