/ 24 September 2004

World heritage site launched

The Mapungubwe National Park, a world heritage site, was launched by the Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk in Limpopo on Friday.

”Mapungubwe completes our South African heritage triangle,” Van Schalkwyk said.

”From Robben Island in the south west, to the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park on the east coast, to this site in the extreme north of our country, we have brought together the strands of our cultural legacy and our natural splendour to forge a lasting network of heritage, conservation and economic growth through tourism.”

The government had invested about R100-million into developing the 22,500ha area, said Van Schalkwyk’s spokesperson Riaan Aucamp in a statement.

The area is home to some of the most threatened mammals in the world, such as the black and white rhinoceros and the wild dog.

The government is negotiating with landowners surrounding the area to become part of the conservation net.

The development created about 1 000 temporary jobs.

”With this launch we will aim to establish 56 permanent jobs, and create another 300 temporary ones as we roll out the next phase of the poverty relief programme with the R14-million development of a state-of-the-art interpretative centre,” Van Schalkwyk said.

The area should form part of the new transfrontier conservation area with Zimbabwe and Botswana.

”The total area that could potentially be included is in the region of 800 000 hectares,” the minister said.

”Good progress has been made towards finalising a memorandum of understanding between our three countries — a process we aim to complete by the middle of next year.”

Mbeki to speak at Kimberley

President Thabo Mbeki will be the main speaker at the National Heritage Day celebrations at the Galeshewe stadium in Kimberley.

Thousands of people have already arrived at the stadium where children were given food parcels and other gifts.

Various cultural dance groups and bands entertained the crowd.

Mbeki is expected to arrive at around noon. – Sapa