Emalahleni’s new Klarinet multi-sports facility has been completed and handed over to the community. It’s an impressive example of a public-private development project that responds to a stated community need, rather than imposing a vision from above.
At a ribbon-cutting on Friday, 12 May 2017, the new multi-sports facility in Klarinet, Emalahleni, was handed over to the community by Exxaro Resources, the mining house that financed the project.
At the ceremony, Exxaro’s Executive Head of Stakeholder Affairs, Mr Mzila Mthenjane, stressed the importance of public-private partnerships in community development. “Officially,” he said, “this is a donation from Exxaro to the community. But we don’t see it like that: this is simply what a good member of a community does, and we see ourselves as a member of the community.”
That Exxaro was prepared to spend R12.3-million on the facility is an indication of their commitment to public-private community development partnerships, but it is also clear that the company has learnt the first rule of social investment: be guided by the community you are trying to develop.
So the Klarinet multi-sports facility was not a concept dreamed up in an Exxaro boardroom; the company consulted both the residents of Klarinet and the Emalahleni Municipality to establish the community’s priority needs. When the people of Klarinet made it clear that access to sport was what they wanted and needed, the multi-sports facility project was adopted.
“Our whole community will benefit from this facility,” said Emalahleni MMC: Community Services, Mr Derrick Skhosana, in his address at the ribbon-cutting. “It will keep our young people healthy and fit, and it will keep them away from the streets and negative influences.”
In their belief that sport has a positive effect on communities, the people of Klarinet are backed up by no less an authority than the United Nations, which actually recommends sport as an efficient way to teach life skills and build more peaceful communities. Statistics show that participation in sport is an effective way to divert at-risk youth from crime and drug use, and also lower teenage pregnancy rates.
The young people of Klarinet now have access to football, rugby, tennis, netball, volleyball and basketball – sports that the local schools simply don’t have the infrastructure to offer.
And as Mr Skhosana pointed out during the 12 May festivities, apart from its positive social consequences, sport itself is a career avenue open to talented young athletes. He expressed the hope that Klarinet would produce Emalahleni’s next sports star headed for global glory; someone who could say they played their first game of football, rugby or netball at the Klarinet facility.
The construction of the Klarinet sports ground also benefitted the small businesses of Emlahleni. “It generated a lot of employment and income for subcontractors, most of them from Klarinet,” said Mr Max Sibiya, the chief contractor on the project. He employed 65 local sub-contractors in total, and the service and maintenance needs of the facility will continue to provide employment for small businesses in the area for years to come.
At the handover ceremony, all the speakers and dignitaries urged the residents of Klarinet to treat the multi-sports facility like a jewel that belonged to them all. “We call upon the community, and our young people especially, to safeguard and maintain this facility,” Mr Skhosana said. “It is our facility; we must take ownership of looking after it.”