Coast KZN

01 Sep 2020

Ezemvelo Wildlife, KZN’s ‘jewel’, needs national support

Anelisa Kubheka (Daily News: IOL) Picture: Reuters: The Environment, Forestry and Fisheries minister has promised to keep an eye on, and provide support to, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

Durban – The Environment, Forestry and Fisheries minister has promised to keep an eye on, and provide support to, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, said the IFP’s Narend Singh. Singh was reacting to the minister’s response to his parliamentary question around the dire financial situation at Ezemvelo and its impact on the biodiversity of the province. On Monday, Singh said that as much as Minister Barbara Creecy had responded about the impact of Covid-19 on revenue streams at Ezemvelo and Sanparks, he was concerned about the viability and sustainability of Ezemvelo.

“From a very credible organisation that was formed through the KwaZulu-Natal government when Nick Steel was CEO, Dr George Hughes the Park’s Board CEO and subsequently Xolani Mkhize with credible board members like Dr Ian Player, it is just unacceptable. At this stage of the game, the Board should have been fired,” he said.

Singh was also concerned that mismanagement at Ezemvelo could affect the province’s biodiversity.

“That’s why I asked the minister if she was aware of Section 100 of the ­Constitution, which makes provisions for a national department to take over the functioning of a provincial department. I appealed that she keep a watching brief because we don’t want to lose a crown jewel in KwaZulu-Natal that attracts tourists through its accommodation and wildlife. She promised she would keep an eye on what was happening”.

DA KZN MPL Heinz de Boer said one of the reasons Ezemvelo found itself in its current financial situation was because the entity had allowed experienced and qualified staff in critical positions to leave.

“The board has many political appointees. There’s an issue with attracting new staff to keep positions. The main reason why the entity is in this position is because it has not spent enough refurbishing and revitalising its accommodation. Another reason is that up to 85% of their operating budget goes directly to salaries, and there’s very little capital budget for renovations.

“People don’t want to pay five-star rates for accommodation at Ezemvelo that’s in such a bad state.”

He said while he appreciated national interventions it was important to get to the grassroots in dealing with Ezemvelo.

In her response, Creecy said she was aware of the financial constraints facing all conservation management authorities, including Ezemvelo, which had been exacerbated by Covid-19.