Rustenburg withdraws from R650m mall project over alleged exploitation
Rustenburg - The Rustenburg municipality in North West has pulled out of a R650 million shopping mall project in Geelhout Park, citing "exploitation" of local communities by the developer.
Municipal spokesman David Magae said the municipality abandoned the project after it become clear that there was "no intention" of empowering nearby communities, particularly small, medium and micro enterprises (SMME's).
"The Rustenburg local municipality cannot be excited that from this mega project, communities are set to benefit around the tune of R5 million. The municipality after careful consideration will not be an active participant and therefore dissociates itself from the mall project development, as the recent developments seek to undermine and exploit the affected communities," he said.
Magae said that the municipality initially pledged support for the project on the basis that it would contribute to Rustenburg's standing position on local economic development.
"From our engagements with the developers, we have always put across the importance of beneficiation, as it relates to local economic development, which may translate into work offered in the form of contracts, for any services required in the construction of the mall.
"As such, it is our long-held view that the communities who are door-step residents and or hosts should have an opportunity not only to fairly and procedurally be awarded contracts, but to also receive skills transfers in the process," he said.
The municipality blasted the developers for using the courts as mechanism for conflict resolution by "bullying" the affected communities into agreeing to their offer without any negotiation.
"What we can confirm is that there is a court order which has been granted to the developers, which was issued at a time when the issues around local community participation were not yet resolved," he said.
The mall development project is one of the biggest property investments currently underway in the city and was set to create over 2500 jobs.
The first phase is expected to be completed by April 2021.
African News Agency (ANA)