The Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency (ECRDA) on Monday
launched the first tea restaurant in a tea estate at the southern hemisphere’s largest tea
estate, Magwa Enterprise Tea in Lusikisiki.
The launch of the tea restaurant forms part of the ECRDA board’s plans to put into action the
ambitious Magwa Enterprise Tea (MET) Master Plan which aims to expand the estate from
tea manufacturing to an agri-eco-tourism hub. This has resulted in the ECRDA led by board
chairperson Dr Nondumiso Maphazi and chief executive officer Simon Qobo, to commence
an extensive stakeholder mobilisation process in the Pondoland region where it also plans to
open a cannabis incubator.
The Magwa Tea Lounge Restaurant was built as a first phase of the ECRDA’s tourism
development plan. The operator is LusiFlag Investment Group. The restaurant’s clientele is
divided between local residents and tourists. It is a moderately-priced family style service of
hot and cold beverages as well as cuisine specialties. It will host other activities such as
weddings, social events, business meetings, workshops and catering. A total of 100 seats
are in the dining room and another 15 seats at the outdoor area. There are plantation and
waterfalls tours where the Magwa experience will be sold.
“The ECRDA has the formidable task of driving the execution of the master plan which sets
ambitious targets over the next 15 years which aim to transform Magwa Enterprise Tea into
a bustling eco-tourism centre. The futuristic MET will result in the estates expanding from
being tea-producing enterprises to becoming tourist destinations of choice. The proposed
plan forecasts countless investment opportunities for the private sector.
“For example, on the far east of Magwa lies Mbotyi Beach. We have entered into a contract
with the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) to construct the road
between Magwa and Mbotyi Beach in order to encourage tourism inflows into the area.
SANRAL will also develop other routes within Magwa to the Magwa Falls and to the other
estates,” says ECRDA chief executive officer Simon Qobo. Qobo says 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.
“The priority now is sourcing strategic partners and specialists in these areas,” Qobo says.
ECRDA board chairperson Dr Nondumiso Maphazi says the Board took a decision this week
to undertake a stakeholder engagement process in order to create trust between the agency
as a service delivery vehicle of government, traditional leadership and communities in the
Pondoland region. The Pondoland region is an important centre of development where we
are to establish a cannabis incubator. The agency also manages the black tea-producing
Magwa and Majola Tea estates.
“We have consulted with senior traditional leaders, land claimants and communities in order
to mobilise buy-in and community ownership of the programmes we plan to roll out in the
region. We also visited Magwa Falls and Magwa Tea as part of the revival of the tea estate
where we unveiled the tea restaurant,” says Maphazi.
Maphazi says the black tea-producing estates are one of the last remaining operational tea
estates in the country. The ECRDA Board is working in tandem with its subsidiary board, the
Magwa Enterprise Tea Board in constructing a strategy for sourcing strategic investors to
assist in the roll-out of these new ventures.