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The Ora as facilitator of sustainable local economic development in Orania /4

  • 16 May 13

oranai 10The historical development of Orania institutions and the Ora
Orania has developed by establishing numerous enterprises, institutions, societies and organisations by the community itself. These community-based associations benefit from a strong community identity, the sharing of social experience, voluntarism and a spirit of reciprocity (Squazzoni 2009:500). These achievements were made possible by the fact that the community has pioneers and innovators who are not materialistic and who have well-founded beliefs and values.
The Freedom Foundation, which later became the Orania Movement, was established in 1988 with the aim of self-determination for Afrikaners in their own territory. After much deliberation its members decided to settle in the sparsely populated and economically underdeveloped North-Western Cape (Boshoff 2008:15). In 1990 the Department of Water Affairs sold the dilapidated construction camp that had been utilised as a housing site in the construction of the Orange River Scheme to the Afrikaner Freedom Establishment (AVSTIG) for R1,6 million. Orania was publicly introduced to the Afrikaners on 13 April 1991 when the purchase of houses, stands and businesses could begin. This gave Orania its ideological economic base (Kotze 2003:164). At this stage the main town, Orania, comprised of 90 prefabricated housing units and Kleingeluk 60 (Kotze 2003:164).
Vluytjeskraal, a farm of 2 300 hectares in extent, was bought in November 1991 and an irrigation scheme was developed. Within months the infrastructure and houses were restored, using only the labour of people within the community, and Orania started growing (Boshoff 2008:18). In 1994 the farm Vluytjeskraal was subdivided into 48 smallholdings that were earmarked for agricultural development. This gave Orania its second economic base, namely agriculture. By 1999, 130 hectares were already planted with pecan nuts (Kotze 2003:168). At this point Orania covered an area of 3 000 hectares, but in 2006 the farms Biesiesbult (1 700 hectares) and Nooitgedacht (4 000 hectares) were also purchased (De Beer 2006:108). The Movement now had a membership of about 1 000 people, who are regarded as the friends of Orania (De Beer 2006:111).
In 2008 Orania had a vibrant and dynamic population of over 700, with an average age of 35 years. There are nearly 100 enterprises in Orania, both small and large, which means that 14 percent of the population are entrepreneurs and have their own businesses. These businesses are represented by the Orania Chamber of Commerce and include a flour mill, which exports its entire production to Namibia and Angola. There are also supermarkets and shops, an engineering firm, brickworks, a truck and tractor business and various home industries (De Beer 2006:112).
Many institutions develop, organise and manage the economic, financial, social, cultural, sporting and political activities in Orania. The economic institutions include the Vluytjeskraal Shareblock Company, which manages the local affairs of Orania. People become shareholders by investing in the property of Orania. The directors are appointed at the annual general meeting of the shareholders. The town manager is responsible for the execution of the decisions of the town council, which in turn is responsible for the maintenance of new infrastructure, such as roads, and the provision of services such as water, electricity, sewerage and garbage collection and disposal (Boshoff 2008:18; Terblanche 2008:2-3). Unlike corporate businesses and governments, these community development corporations (CDCs) have a governance structure directly open and accessible to community leaders, interests and institutions. CDCs are embedded in the social context and have the capacity to take high-risk initiatives even in the absence of secure financial returns (Squazzoni 2009:502).
The financial institutions include the Orania Savings and Credit Cooperative Limited, with its own local currency, and the Orania Growth Fund. The Orania Agricultural Society, with its modern irrigation system, an Irrigation Council and many well-established agricultural businesses have also been developed. The local management institutions include the Orania Management Services (OBD) and Vluytjeskraal Share Block Ltd (VAB). The cultural institutions include the local schools, which embrace Christian values, the Orania Coordinating Education Council and an Education Trust. On the social front institutions such as the Orania Welfare Council, Orania Homenursing, the Help-each-other Fund (Helpsaamfonds) and various support organisations, such as the Orania Development Forum, Orania Growth Power and the Tourism Council have been established (Boshoff 2008:18; Terblanche 2008:2). The social institutions include Radio Orania, the weekly evening market on Fridays, a cultural almanac, which arranges various live shows, an Arts Council and the Orania Cultural and Historical Museum and Archives (Terblanche 2008:2). Unlike public government institutions, these CDCs are independent organisations with an agile and flexible style of doing things. They are strongly embedded in the community and pursue a new approach to citizenship based on commitment, empowerment and participation (Squazzoni 2009:502).
Orania also boasts various sporting and recreational facilities, which, together with the institutions, form the well-balanced Orania Movement (Boshoff 2008:18). The fact that all these vigorous institutions and organisations have been established and function well is mainly due to the fact that the community does everything for itself and does not wait for the government to provide such facilities. The CDCs require direct participation and voluntary commitment of people, but with easy decision-making and authority based on relations with other community associations. Like public institutions, they have public goals and are policy-makers in all respects, but they can overcome the information asymmetries that plague public institutions when they set up social and public services (Weisbrod 1988; Squazzoni 2009:502).
Orania has a well-established community with a sustainable structure and is experiencing positive population and financial growth (Boshoff, De Klerk and Opperman 2008:28). The population increased by 25 percent during the period 2005 to 2008. During 2008 a further 380 hectares of land were purchased by the Kambro Cooperative as part of Orania territory. The property market is lively and significant price increases of up to 500 percent per stand have been reported over the last three years. Properties are increasingly traded at market-related prices. The average income growth of the Vluytjeskraal Share Block increased by 22,6 percent during the financial year ending 29 February 2008. This confirms that Orania has a prosperous community served by many institutions as well as effective planning and management (Boshoff et al. 2008:28).
Moreover, the Orania Movement increased its income by 25 percent during the 2007/8 financial year. The income exceeded one million Ora in real terms and enables the Movement to exercise its aims and objectives in Orania. The Orania Movement ended the year on a positive note with a surplus of Ø33 000. The balance sheet shows that the capital fund exceeded Ø500 000 during 2008 and that Ø14 000 of the long-term debt has been repaid (Boshoff et al. 2008:28). All this confirms that Orania has grown steadily into an established community over a relatively difficult period of 17 years.
The next section analyses the role of the Ora in facilitating sustainable local economic developments

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Copyright by Ronald Mears

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