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Transformation behind the scenes

9 April 2011

Yesterday I went to an informal gathering of people involved in mission, and one of the things being discussed was a community development project near Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria.

Father Frumentius Taubata and Artemius Mangena were proposing for form a poultry cooperative, and were planning to go and register it. They had previously had a vegetable growing cooperative, but it had not flourished because of lack of water — all water is brought to the site by a tanker sent from the municipality, which has to provide for the needs of the local orphanage, and so cannot really be used for irrigation.

Atteridgeville people: Dimitrius Mahwayi, Artemius Mangena, Sergius Makwati and Fr Frumentius Taubata

Some asked why they particularly wanted to register as a cooperative when there were so many other types of body that could be registered – a company, a close corporation, a partnership and several more.

Artemius explained that they wanted to register as suppliers to the City of Tshwane, and they had been told by city officials when they wanted to register that preference would be given to cooperatives. The city would prefer not to buy from large corporations.

I found that tremendously encouraging. We read so much in the newspapers about big corporations, corruption and tenderpreneurs that we get the impression that nothing is being done, that funds are being embezzled at every level, that municipal officials are concerned only with plush offices and fancy cars and first-class fares for overseas travel on “fact-finding missions” and  that incompetence and corruption rule everywhere. And yet somewhere, behind the scenes, someone must be doing the work, implementing a vision, and trying to stimulate job creation among the poorest. Encouraging cooperatives is one way of doing this, and  it is an encouraging sign.

Behind all the horror stories in the media, there do seem to be people quetly working behind the scenes to get things done. If there weren’t, we would not have been able to hold the world cup successfully, and this is another sign that somewhere, somehow, things are working.

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