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The Rosedale MeshWORK

Gernia Van Niekerk
15 October 2002

Gernia Van Niekerk, Chief Executive of the Enrute Foundation, has been instrumental in developing several wholescale MeshWORK projects in rural South Africa. Her work is respected globally and places her among the leading Gravesian thinkers in the world.

This is a slightly-edited version of her August 2002 Executive Summary of the Rosedale project. For further information on the project, Gernia can be contacted via e-mail.

Rosedale is a very small rural town in the Eastern Free State on the R70-road between Senekal and Ficksburg. This road is the main road between Gauteng and Lesotho, as well as the road between the goldfields of the Free State and Lesotho. The border post outside Ficksburg is the busiest border post in South Africa. The R70-road geographically separates the town Rosedale and the township Mautse. The Mariandal (emphasizing the fact that the communities of Rosedale and Mautse are inseparably linked to one another) Cultural Village has been built next to this road.

Rosedale is a dominant white living area although a few coloured and black families have moved into the area, consisting of approximately 200 residents. Mautse is a black living area where approximately 7000 people live in dominantly RDP-housing or squatter camps.

The people moving into the town of Rosedale to live are (with the exception of a few families) people who cannot afford better and more expensive housing in larger towns. (Housing in Rosedale is still relatively affordable.) These people are either pensioners or poorer younger people. During the last few years a number of people who live in Gauteng and other South African cities bought properties in Rosedale. They only visit the area during week-ends or during holidays. A large number of these city dwellers are artists.

Before the 1994 elections Mautse (with +700 inhabitants at that time) was hit by a tornado and most of the buildings in Mautse were flattened to the ground. The community approached the new government and a housing scheme was implemented for the people who had suffered loss of housing and shelter. The result was an influx to Mautse and at present the township has a population of + 7000 people. This again led to a congestion of the basic services to the town, including housing, water and electricity supplies and sanitation – with the result that the poverty problem escalated.

Rosedale/Mautse has a lovely Summer climate. During Winter it becomes very cold. Snowfalls during Winter are common and the icy winds from the snow-covered Maluti Mountains result in a drop in the outdoor temperature. Warm bedding and a fire to warm the houses are essential. The need for heating fuel means that trees are felled at random. Although a large number of declared invader trees (Category 1 & 2, Regulation 15 that must be extinguished exist in the area, well organized projects to use these trees for the benefit of the impoverished population are not in place.

The climate is idea for specialised farming projects such as roses, cherries, peaches, asparagus, vegetables, etc. The natural environment of the Eastern Free State with the town, with its rural character, at the foothills of the Witteberge is a very positive tourist attraction.

The traditional place of prayer of the Sesotho, Nkukumoi/Wonderklip, is in the district of Rosedale.

The members of the community are very concerned about the lack of interest of the youth towards their cultural heritage, as well as their moral standards.

The Development Initiative
Life conditions in both Rosedale and Mautse are not ideal. The farmers in the district, previously the backbone of the community, are experiencing economic pressure and a lot are facing bankruptcy. The squeeze on farming is having a demoralising effect on the town and its people. Work opportunities are ever-decreasing and poverty is on the increase. Basic needs of people are not being met and both family and community constellations are becoming increasingly unhealthy.

The community realized that the town and the district were in a downward spiral. Farmers scaled down and farm workers became jobless, moving into the already overcrowded township. During 2000 a community self-survey was done. Questionnaires were developed and every fifth household was questioned. Interesting data was gathered. It showed, for example, that:-

  • the literacy level of people above 30 in Mautse was very low
  • the elderly and the young were not sufficiently provided for, that only 22% of the men between the ages of 28 and 60 years and only 18% of the women in the same age group had any sort of income at all, with job opportunities very limited
  • the biggest problem at schools was identified as a lack of discipline
  • the absence of positive role models (leadership skills were lacking and low moreal values.

It became apparent that an inclusive community development programme needed to be put into place. The Enrute Foundation became involved in the community development programme during 2002 and the Mariandal Enrute Development Forum was formed in May 2002, consisting of representatives from the communities of Rosedale and Mautse.

The restitution of community life – how it is done
The criteria to identify and initiate projects for development depend on a socio-environmental analysis that is scientifically done within each targeted community. [View the Gernia Variation – with a description of its application in How to build a MeshWORK.]

  • Continuous mentoring and monitoring of the development process ensure the sustainability of projects and the creation of synergy of all development initiatives in regard to the community at large.
  • Different projects identified by the members of the community serve as vehicles through which the development program is driven at all levels from which both the group and the individual benefit.
  • The whole community takes part and each person decides on which level (see below) they prefer to get involved.

The scope of the community development management programme involves:-

  • Level 1 – food and health security
  • Level 2 – social security
  • Level 3 – recreational facilities
  • Level 4 – the implementation of structures and forums
  • Level 5 – entrepreneurial programs
  • Level 6 – programmes to restore the ekistic balance in the community.

The steps of the process putting a development programme together are the following:-

  1. Structuring of needs according to 6 levels of development. (Q -1 of the Gernia Variation)
  2. Audit of the resources available in the community, and a survey of organizations and institutions that must be aligned to co-operate and participate. (Q – 3)
  3. Identification of ways and means (ie: projects) by the community, to drive the development programme. (Q – 4)
  4. The auditing of skills required to run and sustain the projects and the utilization of existing technology available at each level as illustrated below. (Q – 2)

Structuring of needs according to 6 levels(Q-1)
(this is done by the whole community)
BEIGE – Level 1:-

  • Are the people’s basic physiological needs being met? (Are we taking care of the frail and poverty stricken elderly, orphans people with AIDS?)
  • Is there enough readily-available/affordable food? (This is where projects like the ‘sopkombuis’ and lunch-club for poverty stricken elderly come in.)
  •  Is there enough adequate housing?
  • Does the health care system work?

PURPLE – Level 2:-

  • Are our family community constellations healthy and safe?
  • Do we take care of street children, drug abusers and do we provide rehabilitation programmes for those who may need it?
  • Are we investing positively in our young?
  • Does the community have a strong identity, able to take its place in the world?
  • Are the tribal elders respected?
  • Are our tribal rituals and taboos honoured and honourable?

RED – Level 3:-

  • Are there opportunities for sports, pubs & clubs?
  • Are we providing any/enough recreational activities for the elderly ?
  • Do we encourage individuals to find their ‘own voice’ and look after themselves?
  • Is there enough power from higher authorities to exert control?

BLUE – Level 4:-

  • Does the law & order system work?
  • Are the laws clear?
  • Are there enough honest and committed police?
  • Do the churches push morals?
  • Are our industries efficient and regulated?
  • What mechanisms are in place for managing polarized differences?

ORANGE – Level 5:-
This concerns the wealth creators and the innovators and the matter of how improvement and achievement should be supported.

  • What measures of ‘success’ are seen as desirable?
  • What controls are there on self-interest manipulators?
  • How are the negative by-products of Capitalism contained?

GREEN- Level 6:-
 Identifying equal opportunities/anti-discriminatory policies – development of the concept of a ‘decent society’ touching all aspects of human life.

  • How are people facilitated in working together?
  • What mechanisms are in place to ensure that all projects or intervention remain sustainable in the sense of being practical and cost-effective and environmental friendly?
  • Is the community working together in taking responsibility for their future?

YELLOW Level 7 (restitution of community life):-
Identifying operations beyond values and limiting beliefs to provide integral leadership, optimizing all resources – human, natural and man-made.

Level 1

  • Many people’s basic physiological needs are not met.
  • It became apparent in the community survey that only 26% of the people in Mautse feel that their housing is safe. The rest are not watertight during summer and not warm during winter. 70% of the community in Mautse do not have a bed for each person in their home. In 40% of the homes there are no table and chairs available. Therefore the learners have no place to do homework. 56% of the homes have no running water.
  • Sanitation: Rosedale has a water-driven sanitation system. The residents contact the municipality who sends out the sanitation lorry to empty the system. Mautse still has the bucket system. This system results in great health risks, because the buckets are not properly cleaned.
  • 78% of men between 18 and 60 years of age and 82% of women between 18 and 60 do not have an income. Therefore, many people go hungry.
  • A feeding programme has been granted to the school by the Department of Health (Nutrition), but the Department is having internal problems with funding and the programme is not functioning well.
  • No old people’s homes exist for the elderly. An organization for the elderly in Mautse – Itsoseng – has been formed. They come together on a weekly basis. They do exercises together and try to address the needs of the elderly who attend. They do not receive any funding and, therefore, they cannot assist all the elderly in the community. The elderly who receive pension grants mostly assist their families’ needs for food. Sad to say, but a large number of the elderly who receive old-age-pensions complain that their family (or other people) take their money and do not provide for them. The elderly in Rosedale have a social club – Club Rose – which meets on a monthly basis.
  • 3 nursery schools exist in the community, but only one has trained staff. Most of the babies, toddlers and infants are left in the care of the elderly at home.
  • No facilities exist for AIDS orphans. This is a problem that has been identified for several years but no funding is available to date to assist these people. Carers are willing to be trained to help the aged, orphans with AIDS and people with AIDS. Funding is needed for workshops and training in the community, as well as the establishment of ‘Green Houses’.
  • Trained Dots supporters are taking care of TB patients.
  • Approximately half of the residents in Mautse live in shacks. The influx of people from nearby farms into Mautse has created more housing problems. A lot of the able men leave their families in the township and go to towns in Gauteng to look for job opportunities. This practice leaves the families in Mautse without the care of a father, because they seldom visit and just as seldom send money to support the families in the rural area.
  • Only one clinic with 2 sisters is open during office hours. A doctor comes to the clinic twice a week. Clinic services are free. Medication for chronic illnesses such as hyper tension, diabetes, epilepsy, TB and Schizophrenia is available. Sometimes the clinic runs out of medicine.
  • A well-equipped maternity ward has been built but never manned, because of staff shortages.
  • Emergency services: at present the police phone the ambulance in Ficksburg (45 km from Rosedale) in an emergency.
  • The most common illnesses are diarrhoea and skin irritations as a result of the poor quality of the drinking water. Aids, teenage pregnancies, TB, measles and malnutrition are common.
  • Funerals take place in an ever increasing number. Usually burials only take place on Saturdays. Rosedale/Mautse has no cooling facilities for the bodies and, therefore, the local residents must go to great expenses to pay for transport fees and storage facilities at the nearby towns of Ficksburg or Senekal.
  • 50% of the community say that they are not able to provide for themselves and their families a healthy diet and that they always have a feeling of weariness. 48% of the respondents report that they seldom (or never) can afford meat. Porridge, marog and bread are the main ingredients of their diet. The increase (3X) in the price of mealy meal from September 2001 to May 2002 has resulted in the already-impoverished community having serious problems during the cold winter months. Only 35% of the community of Mautse feel that they have enough food to eat daily. Only 5% of the community have refrigeration facilities.

The following institutions are needed:-

  • Home based care facilities eg: for care of the terminally ill like AIDS patients, cancer patients, TB-patients, the aged and stroke victims. [Volunteer Carers are available but must be trained.]
  • Green-houses for Aids orphans are needed and training must be given to care-takers.
  • Soup kitchens must be organized. A soup kitchen will provide food for the needy and can create jobs for others.
  • A 24-hour emergency service at the clinic in the community is urgently needed.
  • The maternity ward must become operational. [Staff increase]

Level 2

  • The community feels that family and community constellations are very unhealthy.
  • Adults feel unsafe and the elderly feel that they are being exploited. Most of them are the sole breadwinners in the family. Their pensions are taken to support the family where they live.
  • 31% of the respondents (184 adults older than 25) in Mautse are illiterate. Literate adults have an average education of grade 7 (std 5).
  • Schools:-
    – There exists one secondary school – Taung Secondary School – in Mautse. There are 17 teachers – 70% are qualified for secondary teaching – with 516 learners. The community is expressing its concern with the pass-rate in the final matriculation exams.
    – The primary school is located in Rosedale – Mautse Primary School. 17 teachers are teaching 520 learners from Mautse.
    – Most of the learners (with the exception of 7 learners) from Rosedale go to schools at the nearby towns (Ficksburg, Senekal and Bethlehem). These learners go to hostels in the nearby towns and are only at home during the weekend. The importance of family ties and the transference of moral values during the short period that the parents have contact with their children must be emphasized. A few (7 in total) attend a small Christian school in Rosedale.
    – No equipped sporting facilities or play-grounds exist at any of the schools.
    – Discipline is lacking. The principals and teachers feel that the parents are not interested in the education of their children and that leadership skills and positive role models as well as high moral values are lacking.
  • The problem of alcohol and dagga abuse is common amongst the community. No rehabilitation programs exist. In extreme cases the sisters at the clinic give counselling.
  • The Sesotho elderly are very concerned because of the lack of interest in their cultural heritage.
  • The tribal elders complain that they do not have the respect of the youth. They feel that the youth do not respect them because they do not have the schooling and the youth tell them that they do not know what is going on in the world.
  • The traditional place of prayer of the Basotho is in the district and a large part of the community from Mautse visit Nkukumoi to honor the tribal rituals and taboos.
  • There is the feeling that a lot of individuals have a low self-esteem and lack the will to grow.

The following institutions are needed:-

  • Life skills programmes are needed for the youth, as well as for the adults and elderly. Funding for these programmes is of the utmost importance:-
    – Workshops (OLEA Leadership Support Center can provide these workshops) to inform the community of the dangers of HIV/AIDS.
    – Workshops to motivate parents to teach their children positive moral values must be implemented (can also be provided by OLEA Leadership Support Center).
  • Opportunities to tell the traditional stories of the Basotho are being preserved in vilt work, embroidered motives and bead work is essential.
  •  Traditional dances – training and funding for 2 years.

Level 3

  •  Soccer & netball are played regularly, but facilities and equipment are lacking. 2 soccer clubs exist in Mautse: Solos and Sundowns.
  • A tennis club exists in Rosedale.
  • A professional tennis trainer moved into the community in the beginning of the year.
  • There are no trained teachers and volunteers to assist the recreational activities in the community.
  • The community is concerned about the lack of sporting facilities, such as volleyball, athletics, cricket, etc.
  • Leaders to take responsibility to assist the sports clubs to generate funds, to train and to function are not available.
  • The only available source of entertainment is taverns. Shebeens are erected without proper planning. Pool facilities are available at these ‘taverns’. There is much alcohol and drug abuse.
  • Recreational activities for the elderly: Itsosen, a group for the elderly comes together on a weekly basis. They exercise together for 30 minutes per week.
  • The community is willing to be trained and to look after themselves but feel that they are not given the necessary assistance in trying to provide for themselves.

The following institutions are needed:-

  • Leadership training is of the utmost importance.
  • Professional training of trainers is needed for various sports, eg. soccer, basketball, athletics, netball, adult exercises.
  • Recreational facilities are needed.

Level 4

  • Rosedale falls under the Ficksburg magistrate district but is part of the Dihlabeng Municipality (towns of Bethlehem, Rosedale, Fouriesburg, Clarens & Paul Roux). Rosedale is 45 km from Ficksburg and 65 km from Bethlehem.
  • The law and order system functions but the community is worried about crime taking place. There are not always enough police to do visible policing.
  • A lot of effort is put into establishing a Community Policing Forum. It is not being supported from the ground as a result of various parties in the community who work against it.
  • Security guards can be used to assist the SAPS in their task. 4 security guards in the community have been trained and have certificates to act as security guards. They can also be used to safeguard the houses of the week-end and holiday home-owners who are experiencing a great problem with crime while they are away at their workplaces in the cities.
  • The adults and elderly are very concerned about the lack of discipline amongst the youth and children. They feel that they are disrespectful and would rather listen to their peers than to their parents.
  • The teachers are complaining about discipline in the schools. They think that the learners lack positive leaders.
  • The churches motivate their congregations to have high morals; but in practice there is a lot of alcohol and drug abuse, sex out of wedlock, etc. The lack of knowledge concerning HIV and Aids is shocking.
  • 17 different religious groups are functioning in this small community. There are also a number of individuals who declare that they do not belong to any religious group. Only one full time minister is working in the community. The other groups visit churches in nearby towns, or ministers from other towns visit their groups when possible.
  • There are not sufficient industries and many in the community have no way in which to earn an income.
  • The authority and power in the community are not held by a single group. To work together as a community is of the utmost importance.
  • The community has a strong need to discover their purpose in life. A programme to help the community with life skills and leadership skills will be recommended.
  • A limited number of organizations and forums are functioning in the community…
    Rosedale & Mautse as a community:-
    – Mariandal Development Forum (founded May 2002)
    – Mariandal Environmental Forum
    – Policing Forum (not functioning)
    Only Rosedale residents:-
    – Agricultural Society (Landbouvereniging)
    – Die Dameskring
    – Afrikanerbond
    – Klub Rose – group for elderly
    Only Mautse residents:-
    – ANC Youth League
    – Rise and Shine Youth Group
    – Health Forum
    – Itsoseng – Group for the elderly
    – Victim Support Group (not functioning)

The following institutions are needed:-

  • A well structured and active Policing Forum.
  • The forums existing in the community must share their expertise with those in need.
  • Workshops/courses must be given to address moral and cultural issues as well as the problem of disintegrated families. Funding is essential.
  • Security Guards must become fully operational, but need to start functioning.

Level 5

  • Only a few industries exist in the community, where a limited number of people are employed: Co-operation; cheese factory, yogurt factory (on a nearby farm) and a number of very small businesses (only the owner(s) and one or two workers are employed). These businesses cannot be called ‘wealth creators’. An asparagus factory exists in the district but is not operational.
  • A Community Development Forum has been established to co-ordinate all community development projects and community forums/forums. This Forum will function in a transparent way and therefore self-interested manipulators can be controlled in a way.
  • The Mariandal Cultural Village has been built and the stalls and tourist shop can be used to attract tourists to the area and provide a work place for the project which is craft-related.
  • The following projects exist at the Mariandal Cultural Village…
    – Mautse Candle Project
    – Pale Crafts
    – Mariandal Paper Project
    – Mautse Leather project
    – Rearabetswe Clothing Factory
    – Sasol Filling station – the owner has a cash flow problem. Therefore the filling station regularly runs out of gas. This problem has a negative effect on all the business at the Mariandal Cultural Village.
  • 3 commonage farms (Libertas 113 ha, Elim 154 ha, Rustoord 106 ha) have been bought by the government. Most of the houses, dairies etc were in working order with the purchase of the farms, but most of the structures have been pulled down. These farms belong to the Dihlabeng Municipality but must be used for community development projects. A number of projects have been registered, but none are really functioning at present eg. Ratanang Agricultural Project, Tsoha o iketsetse poultry project, Ikaheng Cattle Project, Center of Hope Pre-project.

The following institutions are needed:-

  • A well structured and active Policing Forum
  • Funding of projects in the community will assist the community in the upliftment of their vision to function as a happy community who work together to achieve their goals.
  • The teachers at the secondary school and the primary school, as well as the sisters at the clinics and a few professional individuals are the only people in the community with tertiary education. Respondents have the opinion that these people must give from their expertise to support the rest of the community in achieving skills.
  • Projects can be ‘mentored’ by people with skills, if the necessary funding is available, so that the poorest of the poor who lack skills to earn money can provide food and shelter for themselves.
  • A strong feeling exists in the community that the community must be assisted to create jobs so that more people can lead a decent living.

Level 6

  • The district of Rosedale provides tourist attractions such as 4 X 4-routes, hiking trails, horse riding trails, rock climbing, camping facilities and lodge facilities to attract tourists from all over the world.
  • Tourists from all over South Africa visit the traditional place of prayer, Nkukumoi, on a regular basis. The sangomas use indigenous medicinal plants that grow in the area. This practice sometimes endangers protected plants growing in the surrounding conservancies.
  • The Highland Route does not include Rosedale at this point in time. This must be rectified.
  • 2 conservancies have been established during 2001: Swartkrans Conservancy (next to Nkukumoi) in the district of Rosedale and Mariandal Conservancy in Rosedale & Mautse. Two groups of rangers have been trained. Another conservancy is already well established: Moolmanshoek.
  •  The town and surrounding district boast a great number of indigenous trees and plants. On the other hand, a great number of invader plants and trees are also growing in the area. These plants and trees pose a threat to the natural environment. These plants use almost twice as much water as the indigenous plants and therefore a well planned programme to weed out these plants must be put into place. The wood from these trees can be put into use to help the needy to warm their stoves and provide warmth and energy (level 1). Farmers whose farms are in the conservancies are willing to assist a wood project where invader trees such as Acacia (Wattle/Wattel), Eucalyptus (Gum/Bloekom) and Pinus (Pine/Denne) can be cut down and used as wood for heating and cooking.
  • Although a small number of individuals are willing to work together, the majority are still distrustful of the motives of the other. This is not only true of people of different races, but also of people of the same race. Workshops to assist the community to understand one another are essential.
  • It is important to build on the successes of the individuals who are working together, to show the rest of the community that positive results can be achieved if people work together.

The following institutions are needed:-

  • Inclusion of Rosedale tourist attractions in the Highlands Tourist Route – a circular route, starting at Bethlehem, to Clarens (and Golden Gate), to Fouriesburg, to Ficksburg, to Rosedale, to Paul Roux and back to Bethlehem must become a reality. #
  • Assistance in the form of training, workshops, environmental projects are of the utmost importance. Funding is essential…
    – Community development workshops conducted by OLEA Leadership Support Center must be implemented in the community to improve understanding between the different cultures in the community.
    – A project to plant medicinal plants that can be bought by the sangomas at a minimal price must be encouraged to protect indigenous plants.
    – A ‘Work for Water Project’ to help the poor to use wood from invader trees for heating and cooking must start, to protect indigenous trees and extinguish invader trees. This project can include a charcoal factory.

LIST OF PROJECTS APPROVED BY COMMUNIT(Community meeting 3 July 2002)

  1. Home based care facilities [level 1]
  2. Greenhouses for (AIDS) orphans [level 1]
  3. Soup kitchens [level 1]
  4. Life skills programmes — workshops (AIDS + moral values) [level 2]
  5. Pale Crafts (traditional stories of Basotho) [ level 2 & 5]
  6. Traditional dances [level 2]
  7. Leadership training [level 3]
  8. Training of trainers for recreation [level 3]
  9. Recreational facilities [level 3]
  10. Youth Center (involve community on a larger scale) [level 3]
  11. Fishing project [level 3]
  12. Workshops (disintegrated families) [level 4]
  13. Security guards [level 4]
  14. Mautse Candle Project [level 5]
  15. Mariandal Paper project [level 5]
  16. Mautse Leather project [level 5]
  17. Carpentry project [level 5]
  18. Bakery [level 5]
  19. Asparagus + vegetable factory [level 5]
  20. Community Development workshops (understanding between different cultures) [level 6]
  21. Planting of medicinal plants [level 6]
  22. Work for Water Project (felling of invader trees & using the wood for poverty alleviation – heat) [levels 6 + 1]

– The Department of Sports & Recreation is funding project 9: Recreational facilities with R837,000.00. Building of these facilities will start within a month. The members present are very happy that recreation facilities shall be erected in Mautse. It will have a positive affect on the community.


  • DONE: Structuring of needs according to 6 levels of development.
  • DONE: Audit of the resources available in the community and a survey of organizations and institutions that must be aligned to co-operate and participate.
  • DONE: Identification of ways and means (ie: projects) by the community, to drive the development programme.
  • IN PROCESS: The auditing of skills required to run and sustain the projects and the utilization of existing technology available at each level.

The Mariandal Enrute Development Forum is in place, the Dihlabeng Municipality is supporting the projects and business plans for the projects are in process.


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