Re: Ezemvelo KZN wildlife management incompetent?

Wed Oct 24, 2012 6:49 pm

Buying options on buffer zone land

Sounds familiar...

At least the good news is SanParks and KZN Parks are now on the same wavelength after 100 years... O-/

Ezemvelo staff sworn to secrecy

Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:18 pm

Ezemvelo staff sworn to secrecy

Ezemvelo staff sworn to secrecy

November 27 2012 at 11:53am
By Tony Carnie

KwaZulu-Natal - All employees of the provincial conservation agency Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife have been ordered to sign a declaration of secrecy promising to take their “secrets” to the grave – unless they are authorised to reveal information by chief executive Bandile Mkhize.

An Ezemvelo spokesman told The Mercury on Monday that the rationale was to combat rhino poaching “among other things”, but several staffers have interpreted it as a move to intimidate them from disclosing information to the media.

One senior staffer, speaking on condition of anonymity, noted that Mkhize had berated staff two weeks ago for “running to the press” and “undermining Ezemvelo”.

“Here we were at a function at the Royal Showgrounds to honour staff for up to 40 years of long service, and the CEO uses very aggressive language and warns people that they will suffer his wrath if they speak to the press.

“The whole thing has been very badly communicated, and people are nervous about why they are being told to sign this declaration.”

Another source noted that Mkhize had been angered by recent reports that were critical of Ezemvelo, including a story in The Mercury last month about a hippo being shot and donated to King Goodwill Zwelithini.

Another staffer said even junior staff such as cleaners had been told to sign the document, but several had expressed concern that they did not understand the language or the reason for having to sign.

“We hear that it is being done in the name of stopping rhino poaching, but there is not one word in the document which mentions rhinos, rhino horns or poaching.”

According to a copy of the Ezemvelo “Declaration of Secrecy” leaked to The Mercury, staff are asked to acknowledge that: “I understand that I shall be guilty of an offence if I reveal any information which I have at my disposal by virtue of my office and concerning which I know or should reasonably know that the security or other interests of the Republic require that it be kept secret from any person…”

Staff are asked to acknowledge that they are familiar with the Protection of Information Act (act 84 of 1982), and Section 4 of this act in particular.

“I understand that the said provisions and instructions shall apply not only during my term of office but also after the termination of my services with the organisation… I am fully aware of the serious consequences that may follow any breach or contravention of the said provisions and instructions.”

However, the 1982 act appears to be written specifically to prevent official state security secrets from being passed to “foreign states”, “hostile organisations” and for the “combating of terrorism”.

Section 4 of the act refers specifically to secret official codes, passwords, documents, prohibited places, armaments, defence of the republic, military matters and contracts relating to prohibited places.

Durban environmental attorney Jeremy Ridl said the declaration sent shivers down his spine.

“It takes me back to the days of going marching. It is creeping and insidious, and employees of Ezemvelo are now terrified about speaking up.”

Ridl said, that in his opinion, the declaration was unconstitutional.

“It compels a person to keep their mouths shut and to not speak the truth – whereas the constitution says that you are protected in your freedom of expression and imposes an implicit obligation on people to tell the world when things are going wrong… If I were asked to do so, I would not sign it.”

Chief executive Mkhize did not respond to requests for comment, but according to Ezemvelo spokesman Musa Mntambo, the conservation body was trying to avoid sensitive information “landing up in the hands of rhino poachers… we suspect that information is being leaked from the inside”.

Asked why the declaration did not refer to rhino or rhino horns, Mntambo said the declaration was intended to prevent “the leaking of information”. In terms of Ezemvelo’s communications policy, only Mkhize, himself (Mntambo) and certain authorised staff were allowed to deal with the media.

“But this thing should not be seen as discouraging people against the media,” he insisted. - The Mercury

Re: Ezemvelo staff sworn to secrecy

Tue Nov 27, 2012 7:41 pm

SanParks bully lower-level employees by word of mouth regarding this sort of thing...so Ezimvelo must catch a wake-up! :O^

This is a standard waiver parastatal employees have to sign sometimes.
But it has no legal grounds whatsoever, and would be thrown out by the Constitutional Court.

The Secrecy Act is far from finalised, rather watered down considerably lately.

Re: Ezemvelo staff sworn to secrecy

Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:40 pm

MEC MUST PROVE CONSTITUTIONAL VALIDITY OF EZEMVELO “SECRECY DOCUMENT”

MEC MUST PROVE CONSTITUTIONAL VALIDITY OF EZEMVELO “SECRECY DOCUMENT”
Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Democratic Alliance challenges KZN Conservation MEC, Meshack Radebe, to prove beyond any doubt that the so-called “secrecy document”, presented to all KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife staff for signing, is both constitutional and legal.
The document, which seeks to silence all employees, is based on a clause from the Protection of Information Act (act 84 of 1982) relating specifically to official state secrets and their being passed to “foreign states”, “hostile organisations” and for the “combating of terrorism”. Ezemvelo is not privy to state secrets. To expect all staff, including junior employees such as cleaners, to sign such a document is a malicious abuse of power and a blatant attempt to apply legislation which does not apply.
The DA views the “secrecy document” as a smokescreen – a desperate attempt by the MEC and Ezemvelo CEO, Bandile Mkhize, to cover up corruption, nepotism and other transgressions that continue to plague the wildlife body.
The DA will seek legal opinion as to the authenticity of such a document and will today write to MEC Radebe calling for an explanation. We expect the MEC to justify the use of such legislation within the wildlife entity and to immediately withdraw the inappropriate demand that staff sign this document.
Radley Keys, MPP

Re: Ezemvelo staff sworn to secrecy

Wed Nov 28, 2012 7:46 pm

Thanks, Toko! O0

Re: Ezemvelo staff sworn to secrecy

Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:46 am

Thanks Toko \O

The key part and reason for me is:

The DA views the “secrecy document” as a smokescreen – a desperate attempt by the MEC and Ezemvelo CEO, Bandile Mkhize, to cover up corruption, nepotism and other transgressions that continue to plague the wildlife body.

Re: Ezemvelo staff sworn to secrecy

Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:08 pm

Ezemvelo agrees to review “secrecy document”

Radley Keys, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Conservation

At a meeting of the KZN Conservation portfolio committee, held last week, the DA raised the matter of the declaration of secrecy, an oath which employees are expected to sign.

After a considerable fight to have the decision reviewed, it was agreed that the board and their legal representatives would relook at the document.

While there is definitely a need to restrict information that may prejudice investigations into animal poaching in our province, an apartheid secrecy oath is not the way to go.

What is required is an agreement – drawn up by Ezemvelo – which is aimed at preserving the wildlife of our province and which ensures that criminal syndicates do not have access to critical information.

R1 million expenditure for board meetings!

Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:18 pm

http://www.witness.co.za/index.php?showcontent&global[_id]=95452

Ezemvelo travel splurge


11 Feb 2013
Mayibongwe Maqhina

THE remuneration received by some board members of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife for travelling and attending meetings has raised the eyebrows of KwaZulu-Natal parliamentarians.
The travel claims were found to be “scary” and riddled with discrepancies by the joint sitting of the standing committees on public accounts and the finance committee last Thursday.
This emerged when the conservation agency tabled its report showing that it spent a whopping R864 586 for its 16 board members in the 2011/12 financial year.
Of the R864 586 paid, R663 276 was remuneration to attend board meetings and R201 310 for travel claims. In the 2011/12 financial year, board members were paid R3 034 to attend meetings and the chairperson R3 792, while the chair of the audit committee earned R4 858 and his colleagues R3 884 for each sitting.
The report showed three board members were remunerated between R118 891 and R102 273.
Between these members, they claimed between R30 078 and R61 248 for travelling. Other members received remuneration that ranged between R77 103 and R9 398 for attending meetings and travel claims.
Finance committee chairperson Belinda Scott said it was outrageous that the board members raked up to R118 000. “These figures are scary,” Scott said. “I have no personal issues against them [that they] can earn up to R118 000 in one year,” Scott said.
Ezemvelo CEO Bandile Mkhize said the remuneration was according to prescribed rates for travelling and attending board meetings. “There are also urgent issues that have to be attended to by the board and those vary from time to time,” he said.
Mkhize offered to give the committee a detailed report showing the meetings that had been attended by the board members to see how the amounts paid were arrived at.
Scott said the committee had previously asked the office of the Premier and Provincial Treasury to review the remuneration of all boards in the province and also come up with amounts to be paid to the board members.
“It definitely seems it’s a cash cow for some individuals,” she said.
The committee was told about Treasury’s proposal to pay a “retainer fee” which will see board members being paid R3 033 and chairpersons R3 792 from April.
For members of audit committees it would be R3 884 and their chairpersons R4 854.
Members residing in a 90 kilometre radius from the agency offices will be expected to be paid travel claims for a maximum of three hours travelling time.
Scott decried that board members were paid the full standard rate to attend meetings.
“Sometimes a meeting could last an hour or full day. If you have standard full rates, it does not seem to make financial management sense [because] you could be there for a short period of time,” she said.
Scott also said Ezemvelo’s board should consider holding its board and committee meetings on the same day to reduce travel costs.
“We are looking at an organisation that is cash strapped,” she said, adding that R1 million expenditure a year on people attending board meetings was a lot of money.

Re: Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Management Issues

Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:01 pm

Not equipped to deal with ecotourism

20 Mar 2013
Johann Krog

EZEMVELO KZN Wildlife is an entity formed by the merger of the former Natal Parks Board and the former KwaZulu Directorate of Nature Conservation, through the promulgation of the KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Management Act of 1997.
According to the act, the KwaZulu-Natal Conservation Board, now known as Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, has three primary functions, which are to manage the following directly: nature conservation within the province of KwaZulu-Natal, protected areas, and the development and promotion of ecotourism within protected areas.
It can be argued that Ezemvelo has failed to fulfil its ecotourism function, thereby hampering economic development in the province, despite the province being endowed with abundant ecotourism resources.
There is no doubt that tourism enterprises based on Africa’s natural resources are key drivers of development. It was certainly out of this understanding that we, as representatives in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature, crafted and implemented the KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Management Act, and delegated this function to Ezemvelo.
The expectation was that Ezemvelo, over and above its other functions, would use eco-tourism as an important driver of development in this province, especially in remote and rural areas with few economic opportunities. However, since Ezemvelo’s formation, ecotourism has dwindled.
Despite receiving a budget allocation of approximately R600 million each year, Ezemvelo has failed to trigger economic development worthy of such a budget allocation. Instead, the organisation has been dogged by allegations of corruption and mismanagement, recurring irregular expenditure, improper asset management, an inability to curb increasing rhino and other poaching, deteriorating ecotourism facilities, crippling skills shortages and bloated salary payments — with the body’s CEO, Bandile Mkhize, earning R1,2 million this past year.
As a result, ecotourism has been severely affected. Site visits conducted by the Democratic Alliance in the latter part of last year to several game reserves managed by Ezemvelo reveal a worrying state of affairs. A number of resorts appeared to be neglected, had low occupancy rates caused, in part, by ineffective marketing techniques and an incompetent central reservations office. Roofs were leaking and community reserves enjoying Ezemvelo’s support lay dilapidated.
This is hardly surprising. While the crafters of the KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Management Act did so in good faith, it was perhaps an error in judgment to assign ecotourism to Ezemvelo. The body’s primary function ought to be the protection of biodiversity resources in KwaZulu-Natal, and not hospitality or ecotourism. To expect a conservation management entity to run game reserves and resorts requiring a profit-driven management style is bound to fail. The two are incompatible.
As such, the DA believes that there should be amendments to the KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Management Act, allowing for ecotourism to be privatised. It is the only way that struggling resorts under Ezemvelo’s management can be rehabilitated back to profitability; the only way that province-wide economic growth and development can be realised.
Naturally, with privatisation come some concerns — the same worries that most detractors point to whenever privatisation is raised as a solution. It is a well-known fact that the rural poor already benefit from the existence of private lodges, resorts and game reserves in the communities — mostly as sellers of their labour to such establishments. It is also true that the local poor providing mostly unskilled labour lose out on the benefits of tourism — with external interests typically capturing a large proportion of the benefits generated by the tourism market — thereby doing little to support social and economic advancement in the remote rural areas where the tourism destinations are located.
The DA understands that simply promoting ecotourism in underdeveloped settings is clearly not a guarantee of sustainable advances for the poor and disadvantaged of such regions. As such, any legislative amendments and policy proposals made in this regard have to be consistent with the notion of inclusive growth and the local poor benefiting from such growth.
• Johann Krog is a veteran politician and a DA member of the KwaZulu-Natal Finance and Economic Development and Tourism portfolio committees.

Re: Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Management Issues

Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:20 pm

Extending the wildlife estate??????? Does this mean obtaining more land to fall within SanParks ?

If so, does it make any sense when SanParks management plead poverty, having to focus on income generating projects in stead of conservation matters. Surely any management group would like to get things right with what they have before expanding all over the place.