South African traditional leaders on Friday launched an investment vehicle aimed at creating job opportunities for their communities and bringing them into the mainstream economy.

The launch of the United Royal Kingships Holdings (URKH) was supported by government officials and representatives of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), including Minister of Transport Joe Maswanganyi, ANC Treasurer-General Zweli Mkhize and ANC Gauteng chairperson Paul Mashatile. 

The company would focus on investing in sectors such as financial services, mineral resources and beneficiation, fuel retailing, agriculture and agro-processing, health services, tourism, property, infrastructure services and media.

In terms of investment opportunities, the URKH aimed to partner with banks and financial institutions to acquire assets based on its resources, including land and minerals. Global services firm PwC was approached on advice on viable sectors as well as how the company could improve accountability. 

The URKH brings together 829 kingdoms, kingships and royal communities with the aim to create sustainable jobs by leveraging the rich natural and cultural resource base and create investment opportunities to empower more than 25 million rural citizens.

Speaking at the launch in Johannesburg, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des van Rooyen and his deputy Obed Bapela, said the initiative had the full support of government because it would uplift marginalised rural communities. 

Van Rooyen said this launch was a culmination of the First National Indaba held in June last year in which traditional leadership explained their role in as far as the economic development of the country.

“One of the resolutions taken in that Indaba was guiding traditional leaders to ensure that they don’t holistically depend the resources that are allocated by government to deal with issues of development in their traditional communities and traditional councils,” van Rooyen said.  

“As a result, traditional leaders resolved that they will look at various initiatives to ensure that they compliment the work that is being done by government to support the sector. Today we are here to support them in launching this initiative which is expected, among other things, to look at how traditional leaders and their communities participate in the agenda of radical economic transformation.”

Bapela said that the URKH was like the investment vehicle of the Bafokeng nation, the Royal Bafokeng Holdings, but on a larger scale. 

“This is more like the model that the Chinese are perfecting so well with rural development where the main purpose is usually to support the cities because the cities are concrete and they do not plant anything. Because we eat and get dressed by rural development, this initiative will have a big impact in reducing poverty, unemployment and inequality,” Bapela said. 

 – African News Agency (ANA)