By Chamu Wilson –
The community of the sleepy town of Smithfield in the Gariep district of the Free State enjoyed an early Christmas present as the Department of Arts and Culture Deputy Minister, Makhotso Maggie Sotyu, donated 12 industrial sewing machines to the Mofulatshepe Luncheon Club on Monday (27 Nov).
The machines, two of which are for embroidery, are in response to a visit undertaken by Sotyu earlier in the year when members of the club appealed for an intervention from the deputy minister.
“This donation is a fulfilment of a promise I made to the members of the Mofulatshepe Luncheon Club when we held an arts imbizo here earlier in the year. The women said they have a lot of orders for school uniforms which they could not service as they were only using two machines. I, together with my team, set out to mobilise resources for the machines hence we are here for the handover today,” explained Sotyu.
The Deputy Minister told the gathering that the machines are meant to benefit everyone in Smithfield who might have a need for them.
“We are leaving these machines here at the moyor’s office. I must spell it out clearly that they do not belong to one person or a group of people. Everyone who can use a machine and has a need for it must be able to benefit from this donation. We want to see a situation where people are able to secure tenders for the manufacture and supply of uniforms in future. That is the only way we can eradicate poverty among our people,” she said.
Mohokare Local Municipality Mayor, Irene Mehlomakhulu, believes the donation will go a long way in ensuring that employment is created in Smithfield.
“As you can see, Smithfield is a small town where very little economic activity takes place. The levels of poverty here are very high. It is for this reason that I firmly believe that this donation by Deputy Minister Sotyu will assist in ensuring that employment is created for our people. As a municipality, we are very grateful to mme Sotyu for this intervention. We will ensure that the machines are put to good use for the benefit of everyone,” Mehlomakhulu said.
Vuyiswa Gabuza (67), one of the members of Mofulatshepe Luncheon Club, could not hide her excitement.
“We are so grateful to the Deputy Minister. This is the second time I have seen mme Sotyu, the first time being when we asked for her intervention. This shows that she is a leader who is true to her promise and has the interests of the people at heart. This is in line with the President’s (Cyril Ramaphosa) ‘Thuma mina’ call,” Gabuza said.
Meanwhile, a premise which was once operated as a bakery and pottery factory has been earmarked for use as an arts and culture centre for Smithfield. It is expected to boost the operations of clubs involved in arts and cultural artefacts making in the area.
The Deputy Minister also visited a library that is under construction by the Free State Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation which is almost complete, except for the ceiling. She urged the department to speedily ensure that the contractor completes the work so that the community can benefit from the facility.