Letter to the Editor – Well done iSimangaliso!

By Ann McDonnell, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson for Economic Development, Tourism, Conservation and Environmental Affairs:

The tragedy of the severe drought in South Africa has brought home to all of us the vital importance of looking after our scarce resources.

This has been amplified by the many media articles which have laid bare the devastating loss of livestock and crops along with queues of people waiting for water tankers.

Yesterday’s Mercury article – by award-winning environmental journalist Tony Carnie – on the sad state of Lake St Lucia is one such example.

So it was very good to also read that the management of iSimangaliso Wetland Park, one KZN’s precious Heritage sites, has managed to raise funds to reverse the negative effects of the practices of the past.

This proactive approach must be applauded and held up as an example of true will in the face of adversity.

Well done iSimangaliso!

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Letter to the Editor: DA welcome continuity in Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife leadership

By Ann McDonnell, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on EDTEA:

THE DA is delighted by the news that Dr David Mabundla has signed a contract for a further three years as head of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

We welcome the fact that provincial Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu, has heeded our call to retain Dr Mabundla.

His hand on the tiller has had a stabilising effect on this critical entity and we wish him well as he enters this next phase.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife is doing some amazing work – much of it is highly scientific in nature and therefore not widely known.  The work is invaluable during this time of massive climate change.

This organisation has the potential to be a global leader in the fight to safeguard our natural heritage.  All it needs is the right leadership.

The DA wishes Dr Mabundla well as he takes on this important challenge.

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Letter to the Editor – Something is rotten in the province’s supply chain process

By Ann McDonnell, MPL, DAKZN Spokesperson on Conservation:

Something is definitely rotten in the state of the Province’s supply chain management process.

That an individual, without an Aviation Operating Certificate (AOC) was awarded a contract to run KZN’s rhino anti-poaching air wing would be farcical were it not so serious.

The successful bidder is a former hospital CFO in KZN’s Health department who now runs security contracts for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

In spite of having no experience, he was allegedly asked to quote along with nine other businesses for a two month extension of the air wing contract.

That the system allows a bidder without any experience to win a contract and then try to outsource aircraft, pilots, AOC and the requisite insurance is astounding.

It is almost a relief that he was not able to persuade other contractors to do the work.

If government is serious about growing the economy, the practise of giving tenders to people who immediately sub contract for a profit must be stopped.

Not only is it corrupt, it favours connected individuals and is expensive for both government and taxpayers.

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Western Cape bee population under threat

American Foulbrood (AFB) is posing a serious threat to the Western Cape’s bee population, with knock on effects to the industry.

AFB has proved difficult to control. If we do not take quick action, this could result in devastating economic losses, in primary agriculture and food security, putting thousands of jobs on the line.

Crops are dependent on bees for pollination. The fruit industry in the Western Cape requires between 120 000 and 140 000 pollination units annually and the demand is increasing each year.

According to an estimate by the Western Cape the Department of Agriculture, the provincial average level of infection within an AFB-infected beekeeping operation is estimated to be between 5 and 10 per cent.

Infected colonies either die or are required to be killed by beekeepers to prevent them from contaminating other operations.

While the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has passed legislation which effectively prohibits the movement of any infected colonies, I am aware that capacity constraints make it difficult to enforce these regulations.

We have taken the following steps to address the matter:

  • I have conducted a site visit to bee apiaries in Klapmuts and have been in ongoing engagements with the industry to assess the impact of this illness;
  • The Provincial Department of Agriculture has hosted an information session with farmers this week;
  • I have written to the National Minister of Agriculture to offer the Western Cape’s full co-operation in the management of the bee population, particularly in respect of AFB;
  • The Red Tape Reduction Unit is conducting an analysis to assess best practice in this management process.

The Red Tape Reduction Unit is also investigating how to resolve a case in which two containers loaded with honey have been left stranded at a local storage facility in Montague Gardens since 2009.

An inspection found that the honey was contaminated with antibiotics. Further, the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries requires that imported honey must be irradiated, at a cost, to prevent the further spread of AFB. Only one container was irradiated.

“It has now been six years. The containers are rusting and the non-irradiated batch poses an AFB risk as well as an environmental risk.”

Minister Winde said the pollination industry was an important economic generator. “According to research from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, out of the 115 leading global food crops, 87 are dependent on annual pollination.  Bees and pollination services contribute about R16 billion to the GDP of South Africa and about R10 billion of that is generated in the Western Cape.”

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DA welcomes arrest of rhino poachers

By SP Motswenyane (MP), DA North West Spokesperson Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment:

The Democratic Alliance in North West welcomes the arrest of four men who were arrested for allegedly trying to poach rhino’s at the Tandeka Game Farm near Vryburg.

The four men were found in possession of rhino poaching equipment; and will face charges of trespassing, pointing of a firearm and attempted rhino poaching.

The DA welcomes the arrest of all these men, and we commend the efforts of North West police to apprehend poachers.

The DA is however concerned with the increase in rhino poaching, in 2013 alone 1004 rhinos were poached and 996 rhinos were poached since the beginning of 2014.

At least 158 rhinos have been killed in the North West alone since 2013. We are losing the fight against the possible extinction of these animals.

The DA will write to the MEC of Environmental Affairs Mrs Manketsi Tlhape to table an action plan to combat rhino poaching.

Government should establish a specialised anti-poaching unit with coordinated intelligence to disrupt organised poaching groups.

Government should also support rhino owners in protecting this endangered species.

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Letter to the Editor: War of words doesn’t hide the truth

By Ismail Obaray, DA MPL, DA Spokesperson of Environment & Nature Conservation:

Dear Sir

I have noted with amusement the comments made by media liaison officer of the Department of Environment and Nature Conservation, Lesego Pule, in response to my media statement regarding the hiring of vehicles at an exorbitant cost to the department (DFA, pg. 7, 14 October 2015 “DA questions dept’s hiring of vehicles”).

Pule goes all out to use some of the bigger and more complex words in the English language, like “platitudinous” and “apotheosis”, to denounce the comments made by the DA. He says a lot but I struggle to make head or tail of what he actually means. And I think this was his objective. I think he purposefully chose a string of confusing words to fluster the reader in an attempt to obscure the actual issue at hand – namely the significant overpayment by the Environment Department to the government fleet service for the use of Land Cruisers.

Pule indicates that my statement is riddled with inaccuracies.    Yet he fails to present even one “real” fact in order to clear up any misconceptions that I may have unintentionally created.

Pule further accuses me of being outdated with my statement. But he admits that a report on the matter is still only en route to the chairperson of the portfolio committee and he fails to mention whether, aside from consultations, any tangible action has been taken to prevent the department from cruising to financial disaster.

I translate the department’s defensive, as opposed to factual, response to my statement as a sign of their guilt.

I wish that in future they would respond in a professional manner, as opposed to simply attacking the DA for daring to expose the truth. However somehow I doubt this.

The local government elections are on our doorstep and it has become quite clear that in its desperation to hold onto power, the ruling party has instructed departments to dismiss and rubbish anything and everything that the opposition says. But this won’t deter the DA from speaking out on matters that deserve attention. In fact, Mr Pule, it only spurs us on to further expose this administration to the voters.

So if it’s a war of words that you want, you won’t get it from us. We fight with facts, integrity and a true desire to improve the lives of the people of the Northern Cape.

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Enviro. Dept. spending R6mil a year on vehicle hire

By Ismail Obaray MPL, DA Northern Cape Spokesperson of Environment & Nature Conservation:

The DA is deeply concerned that the Northern Cape Department of Environment is spending R6 million per year hiring vehicles. This amounts to 5% of the whole Department budget.

The DA is therefore calling for a joint meeting between the Northern Cape Legislature committees for Environment and Conservation, as well as Transport, Roads and Public Works and Provincial Treasury in order to halt the Environment Department from cruising towards disaster, spending this exorbitant amount on renting.

This comes after it emerged that the Environment Department is paying the provincial fleet services R500 000 per month for the use of Land Cruisers in provincial game reserves, rather than buying these vehicles. This adds up to R6 million per year.

During the department’s first quarter performance presentation at the legislature in August this year, former Environment HOD, Denver Van Heerden, said that he suspects the government fleet services is overcharging the department. He conceded that if this situation continues, the department will be in serious trouble and admitted that the department last year received a bail out from Provincial Treasury due to the high costs of the land cruisers.

The DA is concerned that this situation is simply being allowed to continue unabated.

For the current amount being paid to the government fleet service for the use of the Land Cruisers, the department could instead buy itself 12 new Land Cruisers per year. Alternatively, the R500 000 per month is enough to pay off 20 new land cruisers on a 24 month repayment plan.

Given the department’s tiny budget of just R131 million, the current cost of the land cruisers, which translates into almost 5% of the total annual budget of the department, is simply unsustainable. A more affordable plan must be worked out as a matter of urgency.

The DA has today written to portfolio committee chairperson, Fufe Makatong, requesting that a meeting with Environment, Transport and Provincial Treasury be scheduled as a matter of urgency.

The aim of establishing a government fleet service is to provide cost effective transport options in order to save taxpayers money, not to bankrupt departments.

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Letter to the Editor – Ezemvelo’s dereliction of duty

By Ann McDonnell, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on EDTEA:

Last week – while the world was transfixed by the sight of the super moon and the strange reddish colour of the lunar eclipse – poachers were slaughtering our rhino for their horns in KZN’s Hluhluwe Unfolozi Park.

The added light from the super full moon made it easy for them to kill eight of these magnificent creatures and seriously wound one.

This tragedy comes just days after KZN’s Finance and Conservation portfolio committees were horrified by the revelation that Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife appears unable to spend its budget properly.

As a result, the air support contract to protect animals from poaching has lapsed. Meanwhile, essentials such as infrastructure and roads are falling apart. And then there is the question of whether there are enough trained and resourced foot soldiers on the ground in this war.  The DA intends to find the answers to this.

Excuses of capacity, supply chain, and the rest just do not cut it.

Ezemvelo is an entity is run by a Board of Directors at a cost of R5.6 million annually.  KZN’s Department of Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs has the oversight responsibility of their performance.

It seems that while management is fiddling, our animals are dying.  Ezemvelo’s many amazingly dedicated scientists and rangers must be as devastated as the rest of the province at this dereliction of duty.

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DA Mpumalanga welcomes arrest of hijackers linked to rhino poaching

By Bosman Grobler MPL, Spokesperson on Community Safety and Security:

DA Mpumalanga welcomes the arrest of four men by the hawks in connection with a hijacking and one of the suspects has been linked to rhino poaching.

Over the weekend, a motorist was stopped by bogus metro cops, who threatened him with a firearm and threw him into the boot of his car. The suspects drove him to his house and allegedly stole goods and money worth about R400, 000.

A search for the hijacked vehicle led to the arrest of the men and the discovery of two rhino horns.

Just this week it was revealed that carjacking in the province has increased by 41.8% in the past year, as a result Mpumalanga is now ranked 5th in the country for this crime.

It is imperative that the Provincial Police Commissioner, Dumisa Magadlela  together with MEC for Safety and Security, Vusi Shongwe engage the Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko on the introduction and implementation of specialised units into the SAPS, like the introduction of Rural Safety Units and anti-gang and drug units.

The country would be far safer with a competent, highly equipped police force that can turn the tide against crime. We also need an effective justice system.

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DA will report Naledi Municipal Manager to the Green Scorpions for dumping raw sewage

By Cllr. Louwna Pretorius, DA Councillor, Naledi, Vryburg:

The Democratic Alliance in Naledi, Vryburg has photo evidence in our possession, showing Naledi Municipality officials pumping raw sewage into a field near Devondale village.

Workers of Naledi were caught on camera, the second time in a month, while they were busy pumping out sewage from their tankers into an open field.

The Municipal Manager Modisenyane Thompson Segapo had previously promised to “give urgent attention to the problem” of sewage dumping, but has flagrantly ignored the problem and broken his promise.

For this reason, the DA will report Segapo to the Green Scorpions, under      the Environmental Management Inspectorate of the Department of Environment.

In the past month Vryburg has seen raw sewage running down the streets, due to sewage pipes that broke because of overall lack of maintenance to the sewage disposal system. Some residents of Vryburg have permanent sewage welling up in their backyards.

An investigation is long overdue as the Municipality continues to ignore the sewage crisis, and now is making it worse by dumping raw sewage into open fields.

Naledi Municipality operates a sheltered employment agency, with approximately 42% of its annual budget being spent on salaries, while hopelessly neglecting maintenance and new infrastructure construction.

Where the DA governs we maintain existing infrastructure, and we build new infrastructure. StatsSA’s has found that the DA-run Western Cape provides the greatest number of free basic services to the poor, does so for free for those who earn below a threshold, and does so better than ANC-governed municipalities.

 

This is the quality service delivery which the DA wants to bring to more and more places across South Africa.

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