Traditional leaders urged to help fight rural poverty

Traditional leaders urged to help fight rural povertyThe Xitsavi centre provides skills development for the youth

A youth centre founded by a traditional leader outside Tzaneen is driving development in the region. The presidency says it could be a model for other traditional leaders.

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After visiting the Xitsavi Youth Centre outside Tzaneen, Deputy Minister in the Presidency Thembi Siweya says similar programmes could help to eradicate poverty and unemployment in rural areas.

Chief Tinyiko Nwamitwa established the centre in 2009 to offer skills development and tackle socio economic challenges. The centre offers computer literacy, sewing, and agricultural gardening workshops for young people. It also has an early child development centre.

“We discovered that the youth, when they have nothing to do, resort to drugs and many other things that are not desirable in the community,” says the Chief Nwamitwa.

Deputy Minister in the Presidency Thembi Siweya meets Chief Tinyiko Nwamitwa (Presidency)

Challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic

During the coronavirus pandemic, the centre also began manufacturing hand sanitisers and cloth masks. Yet, the pandemic threatens the existence of the centre as they struggle to attract funds during an economic slowdown.

“We have challenges with the stipend for our people who are working here, with Covid-19 things have become worse. Government must help us in many of the programmes we have. Perhaps by adopting some of the programmes here,” says the chief. The traditional leader says she was inspired by rural development models in India.

Siweya, who visited the centre as part of the presidency’s Covid-19 socio-economic recovery response, applauded Chief Nwamitwa. Siweya says other traditional leaders should emulate her and strive community empowerment.

“You have a traditional leader who is standing out, she is woman, she is giving back to the community. She had identified the needs of her people and she has taken upon herself that she is going to stand up and look for a donations and organise people from various forms to ensure that she assist them,” says the deputy minister.

The early childhood development centre at Xitsavi (Presidency)

Uplifting the community

The Xitsavi centre also fights food insecurity in the community through household gardens, said the centre’s manager Nxalati Baloyi.

“In 2013 we started with the household’s food gardens and presently we have helped 117 families and managed to establish household food gardens. They can sell or do whatever and what we do is to support them,” she says.

Since its establishment, 2646 youth and learned various skills and graduated from the Xitsavi centre’s Fit for Life programme.

Hilda Bilankulu, a resident of the Nwajaheni village, is learning computer literacy  at the centre. The 26-year-old is optimistic about her job prospects.

“This centre is doing great things for the community because it helps us to get skills and they will also assist in getting us jobs whenever they can,” she says. “There are lots of people who managed to get permanent jobs due to this centre.