THE largest tea estate in the Southern Hemisphere, Magwa Enterprise Tea (MET) which was until recently led by an interim Board, has announced the appointment of a Board of Directors for a three-year period.
Located in the Wild Coast region, the estate is comprised of Magwa in Lusikisiki in the Ingquza Hill Local Municipality and Majola near Port St Johns. The black tea producing estates are one of the last remaining operational estates in the country.
In September 2020, Magwa amended its registration into a state-owned company. The Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT) transferred its shares to the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) which delegated the Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency (ECRDA) to take over the shares. This effectively rendered Magwa Enterprise Tea a subsidiary of the ECRDA.
The announcement was made recently by Lulama Nare, the chairperson of the Board of Directors of the ECRDA which manages the MET on behalf of the Eastern Cape Provincial Government. The appointments are with effect from 1 April 2021 and run to 31 March 2024.
The board will be led by the chairperson Ayanda Gabula who is also the ECRDA’s regional manager in the Alfred Nzo region. The rest of the board comprises Vuyani Mapiya, as deputy chairperson; Bongo Qina; Ngcane Madikizela-Renene; Simphiwe Thobela; Lungiswa Patience Goya, the representative of the Ingquza Hill local municipality; and Nolwazi Baleni representing the Port St Johns Local Municipality.
“This team is made of individuals with a diverse skills set in areas such as finance, business management, agriculture, marketing, legal and human resources,” Nare said. The four members employed by state organs will not receive board fees.
Nare said the board’s immediate task would be to put into action the recently approved Magwa Enterprise Tea Master Plan, which aims to expand the estate from tea manufacturing into an agri-eco-tourism hub.
“The Magwa Board will work in tandem with the ECRDA Board of Directors in constructing a strategy for sourcing strategic investors to assist in the roll-out of these new ventures,” said Nare.
New MET chairperson Gabula said the Board had the formidable task of driving the execution of the master plan which sets ambitious targets over the next 15 years which aim to transform estates into a bustling eco-tourism hub.
“For example, on the far east of Magwa lies Mbotyi Beach. We have entered into a contract with the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) to construct the road between Magwa and Mbotyi Beach in order to encourage tourism inflows into the area,” Gabula said, adding that SANRAL would develop other routes within Magwa to the Magwa Falls and to the other estates.
“There are more than three estates in Magwa which are being revamped and resuscitated. The plan is for the estates to house workers, tourists and others should be rented out to the public. There is also a tearoom planned to accommodate events such as weddings. The priority now is sourcing strategic partners and specialists in these areas.”