Signing of !Ai-! Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Conservation Park: briefing; Maribus: voting


05 August 2003
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

5 August 2003

Ms G L Mahlangu (ANC)

Documents Handed In:
Draft Treaty between the Govt of the Republic of Namibia and the Govt of the Republic of South Africa on the Establishment of the Ai-! Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park
!Ai-!Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park Powerpoint Presentation


The Committee was briefed on the signing of the Treaty establishing the Ai-! Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. The proposal from Maribus Industries to lease sea space for breeding salmon, was agreed to, and the report to go the the National Assembly was signed.

Removal of Statues in Kruger National Park
Ms Mahlangu (Chairperson) welcomed everyone after her long absence from the committee, noting the officials from Marine and Coastal Management present. She read a letter she had received from a member of the public, Marilyn Lilley, regarding the removal of statues from the Kruger National Park. Ms Lilley had objected to the arbitrary decision by officials to remove the statues. She questioned what the basis of their decision was, and why there had been no public participation in the decision. Ms Mahlangu welcomed Ms Lilley, who had been invited to the committee meeting, and asked the Deputy Chairperson to fill her in on any background to the issue which had occurred in her absence.

Mr J D Arendse (ANC, Deputy Chairperson) said that he had received a phone call from the Chairperson's office saying that they were receiving calls from the public about the removal of statues. He stated that there would be discussion with the Monuments and Heritage Council, which would include public participation.

The Chairperson said that it was good that the public would be able to participate in the discussions, as the history of our country should not be overlooked.

Mr Arendse said that concerns had also been raised about whether the Kruger National Park would be renamed. However, the public should be assured that the park will not be renamed, as the Kruger National Park 'brand name' is too strong.

The Chairperson asked Ms Lilley to speak about the issues she had raised.

Ms Lilley reiterated that she had not been happy with the non-participatory method in removing the statue. She said that Tim Modise had interviewed someone last week who had done their thesis on the history of the Kruger National Park, and suggested that this work be used to inform the discussions.

The Chairperson said that the committee should make a statement that the matter is being dealt with and that public participation would be invited as part of the process.

Proposal for the Leasing of Water Space in terms of the Sea Shore Act, 1935, to the Maribus Industries (Pty) Ltd Seaweed (Gracilaria) Cultivation Project.
Mr H Kleinschmidt, DDG Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) Marine and Coastal Management said that an application had been received from Maribus Industries, (which is partly owned by a Norwegian company) to rent sea space for wire cages to grow salmon. Marine and Coastal Management had reviewed the application, and had no problems with it scientifically, as it would not introduce alien or dangerous bacteria. MCM was keen to grant the application as it would benefit South African mariculture. Mr Kleinschmidt said that in terms of the Sea Shore Act of 1935, parliament had to grant permission to anyone wanting to use sea space, hence this was being brought before this committee.

Prof L Mbadi (ANC) asked how many jobs would be created by the project.

Mr Kleinschmidt replied that there would be a phased building of cages, up to about ten cages, if the project was successful. Each cage would bring about seven jobs.

Mr J D Arendse (ANC) said that it was not necessary to discuss this at length. An issue was that the 1935 Sea Shores Act must be updated. Nowadays an issue such as this would be a regulatory procedure. How soon this could be dealt with.

Mr Kleinschmidt agreed that the legislation must be updated to be in line with current legislation. This would partly be rectified by the Coastal Management Bill, which is ready, but because of the number of laws going through parliament, there is no time in the parliamentary programme this session to pass it. An amendment to the Marine Living Resources Act is also needed.

The Chairperson agreed that the Sea Shore Act must be updated. She said that Maribus's application for sea space should be granted and read out the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs and Tourism on Maribus, before signing it. She said that the report would go to the National Assembly to be granted.

!Ai-!Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Conservation Park
Mr Ernest Mokganedi, Manager: Transfrontier Conservation Areas, DEAT, presented on the signing of the international treaty for the establishment, development and management of the !Ai-!Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. (Please refer to attached Powerpoint presentation.) The treaty was signed by President Thabo Mbeki and President Sam Nujoma on 1 August 2003, in Windhoek, Namibia. It was also signed by the South African and Namibian ministers of mining. As the Richtersveld park is a community owned park, the community was involved as well.

The Chairperson said that the late Mr Richards would have been very happy about the Park. She suggested that members of the committee should organise a visit to the park.

Ms J Chalmers (ANC) asked about the rehabilitation of the diamond mines. How was this regulated? Who does it? Who pays for it?

Mr Mokganedi said that this was a very sticky issue. Currently the owners of the mines contribute some of the costs of rehabilitation to the board. This had been identified as a key issue for the new Joint Management Board of the Park to deal with.

Mr Arendse (ANC) asked why a copy of the Draft document had been handed out, if the final document had been signed on Friday.

Mr Mokganedi replied that the signed copy was still in bound form, and was currently the property of the Department of Foreign Affairs. It had not been possible to get the final copy in time.

Mr Arendse asked how the Park would cater for the protection of biodiversity; when an area had been identified as a biodiversity hotspot, protection of that biodiversity was necessary.

Mr Mokganedi said that the park fell under two agencies, SAN Parks and the Namibian parks board. The intention was for the park to grow, and thus personnel would be increased and thus increase the protection. The current structure included community conservancies, which will extends from the core area to protect the areas around. Communities would be trained to protect the biodiversity, and in sustainable use of the park. Municipal structures had been involved from the start, and provincial and national groups were also represented in the park structure.

Mr Arende asked if any communities had been moved in making the park - on the Namibian side or the South African side of the park.

Mr Mokganedi said that it had not been necessary to move anyone in the formation of the park. There was some grazing of livestock in the park by the community and SANParks would need to ensure that there is no overgrazing.

Mr Arendse asked about the scaling down of mining in the area, and the rehabilitation of the mines: did this mean that minerals had been mined out? Had research been done on possible further deposits of diamonds or other minerals within the park? How would this be dealt with in a transfrontier park?

Mr Mokganedi said that it was difficult to get clear information about mining as companies did not like to disclose what reserves there were. It was just an observation that areas were mined out. Prospecting was also destructive.

The Chairperson said that she was interested in the involvement of the Minerals and Energy ministers in the signing of the treaty. She asked whether there was any commitment to rehabilitation.

Ms Chalmers asked a general question about transfrontier parks, in terms of the law in both countries: if there is a dispute or a clear difference of policy on management of biodiversity, or environmental affairs in general, whose law prevails? Would everything be done by negotiation, or does the law of one country prevail?

Mr Mokganedi answered that the intention in developing a Joint Management Plan on biodiversity would be to get compliance in the plan. If there was a dispute, the first effort would be to resolve it within the committee, or within the Environmental Departments of each country, if that did not work out, it would have to be taken to The Hague. One of the objectives was to harmonise the laws of both countries.

The meeting was adjourned.


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