SANParks man to head Ezemvelo
December 12 2014 at 11:10am
By Colleen Dardagan
Durban - The former chief executive of the Kruger National Park and South Africa’s National Parks (SANParks), David Mabunda, will take over from suspended Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife head Bandile Mkhize, it was announced in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday.
Mike Mabuyakhulu, MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs said at the KZN conservation body’s head offices in Pietermaritzburg that Mabunda would act in the position for six months with former Treasury employee Ebrahim Moolla taking on the financial hot seat, also in an acting position.
Mkhize and his chief financial officer, Darius Chitate, were suspended two weeks ago by Mabuyakhulu, pending the outcome of a disciplinary inquiry into alleged financial mismanagement.
Their suspension followed the outcome of a task team report investigating a restructuring process started by Mkhize that saw a few senior managers getting pay increases totalling R20 million while at least 700 vacancies remained unfilled in the field.
Mabuyakhulu has ordered the staff who benefited to pay the money back.
Yesterday he said having Mabunda to “stabilise” the organisation was ideal because of his experience in conservation.
Mabuyakhulu said Mabunda’s most notable achievement was the commercialisation of SANParks by increasing revenue from R234 million in 2003 to R1.3bn last year.
Mabunda retired from SANParks earlier this year after 10 years service. His retirement was announced after the controversial R1 billion Malamala Reserve land claim was settled by the Department of Rural Development and Land Affairs. Mabunda was a shareholder and director of the reserve and allegedly benefited from the settlement.
Noted conservationist Roger Porter, who was also the former head of Conservation Planning at Ezemvelo and worked for the entity for 39 years, said Mabunda’s appointment was ideal to build relationships between the national department, SANParks and the provincial conservation body.
“I think the national minister, Edna Molewa, will be greatly encouraged by this appointment. I think it will cement the relationships between SANParks (and Ezemvelo) going into the future.”
He said conservation in KwaZulu-Natal was in a crisis and that under the circumstances Mabunda’s leadership style was ideal.
“The morale among the staff at Ezemvelo is so low. He has the personality to get people to work with him as a team leader.
“He is not autocratic. I am so encouraged and hopeful that this appointment will result in the present circumstances improving substantially. This was the perfect choice for the position,” he said.
When asked if the rescue plan for Ezemvelo included an amalgamation with SANParks, Mabunda did not rule it out.
He said it was imperative that rhino protection topped the agenda, and to continue getting the public to throw their weight behind the fight against poaching, Ezemvelo had to show it was “looking after the money (donations)”.