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ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS & TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE 23 March 1999 DISCUSSION ON OPERATION JUMBO Documents handed out
ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS & TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
23 March 1999
DISCUSSION ON OPERATION JUMBO
Documents handed out
African Resources Trust
IFAW and ESPU Grant agreement
Madingi Community statement on Operation Jumbo (see appendix)
TRAFFIC statement on Jumbo Report (see appendix)
TRAFFIC review of Jumbo Report (see appendix)
After hearing evidence from the Endangered Species Protection Unit, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, TRAFFIC, the Rhino and Elephant Fund, the World Wide Fund for Nature, and Africa Resources Trust, the Portfolio Committee Environmental Affairs and Tourism took a decision to refer the report to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism for further investigation.
The Department was tasked with looking into:
1. The process whereby the ESPU undertook the report, with regard to the IFAW funding, and the consultation with other departments.
2. The relationship between the objectives of the project and the outcomes
3. The relationship between the report and the South African position on sustainable use, and other countries and conventions to which South Africa is a part of.
4. The possibility of an independent commission of enquiry to further investigate the matter.
Chairperson G Mahlangu welcomed all to the meeting. The Chairperson read the report of the sub-committee that had been set up to investigate the issue of the Jumbo report. The sub-committee had proposed that a meeting be called with the Endangered Species Protection Unit (ESPU) and the other stakeholders, in an attempt to further investigate the issue, hence the purpose for today’s meeting.
The sub-committee had specifically decided to ask for clarity on a few key issues, which the chair put to the ESPU.
Clarity was requested as to who gave the mandate for Project Jumbo. Commander Lategang, the head of the ESPU, answered on behalf of the ESPU that the Commissioner of Police, and the Department of Safety and security had sanctioned the project.
The chair asked whether the project was an official one. Lategang replied yes, as it had an official memorandum and had been sanctioned.
The chair asked whether there were any contradictions between the ESPU and the official government position. Lategang replied no, as he supported the CITES position, with the acknowledgement that more attention needed to be paid to law enforcement.
The chair queried the extent of consultation with the SAPS and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. Lategang said that the SAPS were involved, as he himself was a member of the SAPS. There had never been a practice to consult with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism on any issue formally, and no consultation had taken place on this issue.
The chair queried why the ESPU had not approached the department for funding. Lategang stated that he had been in the department for many years, and knew that the SAPS priorities inside South Africa would not have allowed funding to be available. Therefore he had not bothered to approach the department for funding.
Chairperson Mahlangu queried whether the independence of the ESPU had been in any way effected by the grant from IFAW. Lategang replied that he would not accept a grant from any organisation if the independence of the unit would be threatened. The report had not been influenced.
The ESPU was given an opportunity to make further comments. Lategang read out a letter that he had sent to the Commissioner for Police services. The letter noted some of the issues and concerns and allegations made against the ESPU. Further it requested that an inquiry be initiated into the issues to clear the ESPU’s name.
Lategang said the ESPU would like to look forward. In particular they would like to look at the opportunities for development of law enforcement in terms of the Lusaka Agreement. Further, they were planning international training initiatives for African endangered species law enforcement officers. Finally, the ESPU would really like to see an Endangered species protection Act passed to give legislative force and support to controlling the trade in endangered species.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) was given an opportunity to make comments.
Mr Le Roux (New National Party) noted that Mr Lategang said he had not been influenced at all. He asked whether there had been any attempt to influence the ESPU. Mr Lategang replied that IFAW certainly never tried. However, the meeting with other NGO’s in January could be seen to have tried to influence the ESPU.
Mr Vilakazi (African National Congress) stated that there had been a grant to the ESPU. In the grant agreement IFAW would not be disclosed as the grant source. Further, the agreement states that if IFAW was acknowledged as the funder, the report would not be released. He queried how this was allowed if the ESPU was to undertake and objective and independent report.
IFAW agreed that there was a confidentiality clause. This was included as the police would be conducting dangerous investigations that could endanger their lives. The fewer people who knew of the investigation the better. Should news of the investigation leak to those in favour of trade, they might try to influence the report. There was no confidence that those in favour of trade would not try and sabotage the project. There was never any condition that the report would not be released.
Mr Williams (African National Congress) noted point 5(a) of the contract, in which IFAW was able to withdraw from the grant agreement at any time, including under conditions in which the grant turned out not to be in the best interest of IFAW. Linked to clause 7a, the confidentiality clause, the grant agreement was therefore suspicious. There was no way that the ESPU could do anything that was not going IFAW’s way. The agreement said that the ESPU could do anything they want, but then there is a confidentiality agreement. This did not give the ESPU any space to operate.
Mr Lategang (ESPU) said that IFAW had given them the grant without any attempt to influence the outcome. If the report favoured the Zimbabwe viewpoint, the grant could be stopped, but the report would still be there and the possession of the ESPU. However, these issues are why the ESPU would like to refer the issue to an independent enquiry. The ESPU wanted to release the report to SADEC and Interpol.
The Chair queried that there would really be an issue if the ESPU was an NGO. However the ESPU was a unit within the South African government. She asked for a comment from the Department of Safety and Security.
The deputy Commission of Safety and Security stated that he had just entered the meeting and requested a little time to catch up with the debate. He had approved the initial operation, as it was included SADEC and other African countries.
Mr Le Roux (New National Party) queried whether there was any reason to believe the report was not objective. Had there been any accusations of bias in the report.
Mr Vilakazi (African National Congress) asked who would take the responsibility if the funds had not been accounted for.
Mr De Wet (New National Party) said that it was good to hear that IFAW was satisfied with the work. He asked whether IFAW was happy with allocations about spending of funds, and could a report from the ESPU on spending be provided.
Mr Lategang replied that the ESPU had not received any allegations of non-objectivity. The department did receive a copy of the report, as did the Portfolio Committee. If funds were not properly used, he would take responsibility as head of the unit. A report of the spending of the grant would be made available.
Mr Barrett (IFAW) stated that they had not received any interim reports, so they had no way of knowing what was coming out of the report. He recommended Mr Williams not to read too much into the wording of the agreement. It would not be in IFAW’s interest if money was misappropriated, and that was why the withdrawal clause had been added. IFAW was very satisfied that the report had been worthwhile.
The Chair asked whether permission had been given from all the African states to do the investigations, and whether the law enforcement officers from the countries had joined the task teams. She added that she heard the ESPU had stopped investigating Abalone poaching due to funding shortage? Why had the ESPU not gone to IFAW for money for that?
Mr Lategang (ESPU) said that they had worked with the Environmental affairs departments in the other countries, and that there had been joint co-operation.
The Chair noted that the ESPU worked with environmental affairs in other countries, but not in their own country.
Mr Lategang replied that in other countries, the environmental affairs did the policy. On the abalone issue, abalone was not an endangered species according to the CITES 1, 2, and 3 lists which is what the ESPU focused on.
Dr Abrahams, the Deputy Director General of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, noted that the constitution committed government to cooperating. The Ministry for environmental affairs was a signatory to CITES, and yet in this project the SAPS has no relationship with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, nor any consultation. Secondly, there is a RDP fund, and it was not proper procedure to get funding outside without going through the RDP fund, where the process was open and transparent.
Dr Botha (Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism) expressed concern at the timing of the release of the report. In February the standing committee on CITES met to deal with the progress of the countries in fulfilling the obligation set for opening restricted trade. The release of an unofficial document could affect the decision. Secondly, Mr Barrett from IFAW had made reference to previous debate on the issue using figures that were little more than rhetoric. Dr Botha believed that this report only added to the rhetoric, as there was very little reference to figures. Further, Dr Botha noted that there were concerns expressed by Namibia and other countries, and that they had made remarks that the ESPU was not welcome back. He had been asked how the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism could let a sister organisation operate in the manner the ESPU had. The initial request for approval of the project had been along the lines of a training needs assessment. The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism had a concern that people were not informed of the study donor, and were not aware of some of the conditions. There was large concern with IFAW, as in 1996 they had provided money to SANPARKS for land acquisition, subject to conditions that culling would not take place on the land.
The Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs asked who initiated the project. Further, why would the grant not go through the ESPU trust, which is a mechanism set up to ensure the ESPU is not influenced. Whose decision was it not to route the money through the trust? He queried whether a stakeholder should be able to pay money to a police unit for doing the NGO’s work. Had the treasurer given permission for the grant to go ahead? Was the police commissioner who approved the report aware that IFAW had campaigned vigorously against sustainable use?
Ms Mabudafasi asked why the Deputy commissioner approved the application, why he had not consulted with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
The Deputy commissioner replied that he was not aware the project was not solely a policing issue.
Mr Vilakazi (African National Congress) asked whether the commissioner was aware of the source of funding, and the impact it may have on the independence. Was any oversight function put in place?
The deputy commissioner stated that when approval from the department of Safety and Security was required, there was prior approval from State expenditure. He had taken for granted that this was normal procedure. He was not in a position to state whether funding for the project would have been available. The Unit commander reports to a divisional commissioner, and the deputy commissioner had still not read the report as it was still with the divisional commissioner. He can therefore not comment on whether the report was in line with the proposal aims as he had approved them. There is an internal monitoring mechanism within the department to check if things go wrong.
Mr Vilakazi (African National Congress) asked whether it was required that prior approval was given by state expenditure.
The deputy commissioner replied yes and no. It does happen, but there is also a section within the department that deals with external funds.
Mr Lategang stated that they were not there to police CITES. Their job was to police smuggling of endangered species. CITES was 50 % about policing. However, the policing side is never taken into account in CITES meetings. On a related interpol meeting, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism had been invited, but did not attend. The ESPU had been forced to release the report due to the meeting with NGO’s in January, and the timing was not therefore planned by the ESPU. There is not a policy of Rhino’s and related animals in South Africa. There is no wildlife trade policy. Therefore it creates problems for control and policing and law enforcement. The criticism of the content of the report is accepted. The ESPU would rather get into the report that the motives behind it. In 1997 Mr Lategang had asked for permission to do a training course in South Africa, out of which the Jumbo project had been initiated. The ownership of operation Jumbo therefore was with the ESPU.
With regard to the ESPU trust, Mr Lategang noted that the trust was formed for certain objectives, the principle one being to find accommodation for the unit and other trust objectives. This project did not relate to the trust's objectives, and therefore the treasury was approached for approval. Along with legal enforcement officers through out Africa, there is concern as to how law enforcement can be achieved if animals are down listed. However, no organisation can fund the police force to find special findings. You can not pay the police to do a job for you.
Mr Burgener (TRAFFIC) indicated that TRAFFIC had two documents they wanted to discuss. The first one dealt with the process, and the second with the actual content of the report.
Mr Barrett (IFAW) asked whether it would be appropriate for TRAFFIC to present documents when the committee had not seen them. IFAW had not seen the documents, and would not be able to comment on any allegations made by TRAFFIC.
The committee decided to allow TRAFFIC to continue.
Mr Burgener stated that as there was not much time, he would briefly summarise the document dealing with TRAFFICS problems with the process. (Attached)
After Mr Burgener had briefly gone through the document, the Rhino and Elephant foundation was invited to make a comment.
A representative form the Rhino and Elephant foundation noted that there were serious concerns about IFAW’s involvement in the project. At the meeting with the ESPU in January Mr Lategang had shown the NGO’s an interim report, which he had said had gone to IFAW. With respect to the timing of the report, the contract stipulated that the work should be finished by the end of 1998.
A second representative of the Rhino and Elephant foundation, who had previously worked for IFAW, made additional comments. While he was with IFAW, the staff had been told not to talk about project Jumbo. There were concerns about police safety. IFAW was hoping the report would be complete before the CITES meeting in February. One of IFAW’s major issues was that IFAW had little credibility in N Africa. Many of the countries in north Africa were very hostile towards IFAW, which was against the sustainable trend emerging in Africa. The staff was therefor told to keep quite as IFAW did not want to be connected to Operation Jumbo. The IFAW involvement was not about adding to constructive discussion, as it is known that the IFAW position is closed. What IFAW needed was statistical proof to back up its position. However, the Jumbo report was largely anecdotal. It is acknowledged that much time and effort went into the report. Further, if the report was for the benefit of South Africa and its neighbours, why were the neighbours not given an opportunity to participate? When the NGO’s left the 1997 CITES conference, very strong battle lines had been drawn. Since then the situation has only grown sickeningly worse, which each side only looking to prove their agendas.
The Chairperson asked the Africa Resource Trust and the Madingi Community representative if they had anything to add. A representative from the African Resource Trust, Mr Chitepo, stated that they supported increasing the wellbeing of rural people. They had noted with growing concern the increasing animal rights lobby in South Africa, which was dominated by well off people in foreign countries.
Mr Ngubani from the Madingi Coastal community read a statement on behalf of the community (attached).
The Chair stated that the Portfolio Committee had now received the report and listened to comments. A platform had been created for people who did not agree to air their views. She noted that the report itself raised issues that this meeting was not going to deal with, such as the lack of law enforcement capacity. She requested the political parties to suggest a way forward. A five-minute tea break was called to allow the parties to discuss the issue amongst themselves.
After the break, Mr Vilakazi (African National Congress) stated that he appreciated the ESPU and Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism attending the meeting. Further, he appreciated the assistance from IFAW, TRAFFIC and the other NGO’s present. As the report had been tabled in the Portfolio Committee, focus should be given on trying to give credit to the report, which had been tainted in the media. He thanked the deputy commissioner and Deputy Minister Mokaba for attending the meeting. Having listened to all the parties, he stated it would be difficult to find a way of dealing with the report and process. The process of finding a good way forward must be given time, and the capacity of the Portfolio Committee to look into operation Jumbo must be carefully looked at. He noted that Mr Lategang had expressed a willingness to be investigated. The Portfolio Committee had heard Mr Lategang claim ownership of operation, but they had also heard allegations that IFAW had approached the ESPU to do the project. The objectives of the project are still not very clear. Therefore, the African National Congress recommends that the issue be handed over to the Department to investigate. However, as the department has an interest in the matter, maybe an independent investigation should also be considered. As the issue was also a police issue, and in the spirit of co-operative government, Foreign Affairs and Safety and Security should also be involved. The Portfolio Committee did not have the capacity to look into the matter.
Mr De Wet (The New National Party) stated that they did not agree that because the ESPU had accepted funds from IFAW that the report was tainted. He realised that the report was an intricate document. He also realised that it might not suit what the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism or the Deputy Minister thinks. The Portfolio Committee should accept the report, not necessarily meaning that they agree with the content. The next sitting of parliament could look at the report in more detail.
The Chairperson spent some time clarifying with the two parties a position on which they could agree. It was agreed that the Department would be tasked with looking further into the issue, with particular regard to looking at the process of the operation, the relationship between the objectives of the initial application and the final outcome, the relationship between the report and South Africa’s position on trade and its obligation to other countries. Finally, the department needed to look into the possibility of looking into an independent commission of enquiry.
The Deputy Commissioner of Safety and Security asked the Portfolio Committee to bare in mind that due to some of the allegation heard today, the Department of Safety and Security may take its own investigations. He hoped the decision of the Portfolio Committee would not preclude such an investigation from being possible. The possibility that the independence of the Department having been compromised was not going to be taken lightly. There was already ministerial level discussions on the issue, and this will continue.
The meeting was adjourned.
POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF SUSTAINABLE UTILISATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES TO RURAL COMMUNITIES
Chairperson, Honourable Deputy Minister, Members of the Portfolio Committee on the Environment, Non Government Organisations and other statutory bodies present, may I take this opportunity to thank you all for making it possible for me, representing the Madingi Community, to come to this meeting. Specifically, I would like to thank ART[SA] for allowing me to accompany them to this meeting and Mr. Xaso for agreeing that I present.
Madingi Community represents the people of Maputaland, living along the coast from Lake Sibhayi to the border with Mozambique. I shall not bore you by giving you the geographic location of Maputaland suffice to say that it is considered as one area which is very rich in biodiversity and untouched. Secondly, it is considered economically and infrustructurally poor.
The economy of Maputaland is largely characterised by cash injections from government sources in the form of social pensions, a very small percentage of migrant remittances and few local jobs. People's lives in Maputaland depend on Natural Resources. It is mainly for this reason that we would like to give our own perspective on operation Jumbo.
1. We do not claim to know or understand operation Jumbo, the reasons and the politiking behind it, nor do we believe we understand all the different role players' motives. We, however, believe that we stand to sustain our lives through meaningful conservation (that conservation which includes the local people) of natural resources, which forms the basis of our own development thorough conservation based development projects, such as eco-tourism, fish sales, game meat sales and hunting safaris.
2. We support any organisation, be it an NGO, international company which furthers the aims utilisation of natural resources and equitable support the services of the police, Kwa Zulu government body or of conservation, wise benefit sharing. We, Nature Conservation services and other bodies, which help to preserve and conserve our rich natural resources.
3. We do not support the myth that local people do not have the capacity to protect their natural resource base or are ignorant of the value of such resources. We believe such myths are put forward by people and organisations who want to alienate local communities from their natural resource base. Fish kraals on the Kosi lake system is just but one example of sustainable fish harvesting, designed and implemented by local people.
4. We further do not support the impression, which is often created that local people are poachers. Evidence collected by various police departments will bear testimony that poaching offenders are largely apprehended in urban areas. Alienation of local people from their own resources, denial of land tenure rights, bad conservation practices (that disregards the animal carrying capacity within 'fenced in' reserves) are some of the causes of this so called poaching. Most of all, it is the prevention of local communities from earning benefits from their own resource which acts as an incentive for subsistence poaching. Using the fish kraal example again, few homesteads own and operate fish kraals. Fish kraals are not patrolled at night and there is no one member of the community who steals fish trapped inside the kraals. All members of the communities derive a benefit from affordable fish sales in the area and the incentive to steal is non existent.
5. While we support animal rights and welfare organisations, we also feel that their intentions are often at odds with sustainable harvesting of natural resources by rural communities. Rural communities often have to bear the costs of living with wild animals. Proponents of animal welfare are often distanced from such costs and derive their living from other sources. History can bear us out that the development of the developed world sometimes did not give any respect to humans, let alone animals.
6. While we cannot claim to have intimate knowledge on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). We welcome efforts pioneered by the South African Government, and other countries, at the last CITES conference in Zimbabwe on limited trade on some of the species which had been listed under CITES. We hope such efforts could continue. We, therefore, treat any attempt which discredit such efforts, tarnishes our image, as a threat to our livelihoods as well as to the welfare of the animals. We also feel that such attempts are largely based on "experts" advice who have very little knowledge of the real conditions on the ground.
7. The Madingi community has started negotiations which NCS in finding means and ways of managing their natural resources jointly. Reports that reject sustainable utilisation of resources, hurt initiatives these.
8. Finally, we are concerned that we were not consulted during the research stage of operation Jumbo.
To conclude, Chairperson, if suffering of communities could be measured in a number of failed development projects, then Maputaland would top the list. The land is not that suitable for sustained agriculture or any other 'development initiatives'. Conservation Based Community Development(CBCD) holds the potential foil the upliftment of long suffering people. We now live in a global village, with extended markets influenced by public opinion. Any bad publicity, especially on animal welfare, does not only threaten our survival on CBCD but also on other possible products from us, such as investments which could arise from the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative (SDI). We would welcome that all reports prepared involve us so that informed decisions could be taken. Conservation is our life. The area is often said to be untouched and we have lived and survived in the area for more than 400 years. We would welcome a further investigation on the report.
TRAFFIC position statement on Operation Jumbo
TRAFFIC East/Southern Africa (TRAFFIC) is part of the TRAFFIC Network, a joint conservation programme of WWF - World Wide Fund For Nature and IUCN - The World Conservation Union. In supporting the work and missions of WWF and IUCN, TRAFFIC'S purpose is to help ensure that wildlife trade is at sustainable levels and in accordance with domestic and international laws and agreements. This is achieved through the investigation, monitoring and reporting of such trade, particularly that which is detrimental to the survival of flora and fauna and that which is illegal. TRAFFIC strives to be a source of accurate and objective information and advice and shall provide a technical basis for the establishment of effective conservation policies and programmes for wildlife in trade.
TRAFFIC supports the aims and objectives of the Endangered Species Protection Unit (ESPU) and recognises that the ESPU plays a vital role in combating illegal wildlife trade in South and southern Africa. Our office has consistently assisted the ESPU through the transfer of information concerning illegal wildlife trade.
TRAFFIC has the following concerns with the manner in which Operation Jumbo was initiated and the manner in which research for the report was undertaken in certain foreign countries.
1. Legal Issues: It was established at a meeting held between the ESPU, the ESPU Trust, The Africa Resources Trust, The Endangered Wildlife Trust, TRAFFIC and the Rhino and Elephant Foundation on 5 January l999 that Operation Jumbo was not in fact initiated by the ESPU but by a foreign based NGO, The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which approached the ESPU and requested the unit to carry out the project. This NGO subsequently entered into a contract with the ESPU whereby the ESPU undertook to carry out the project. All funding for Operation Jumbo was apparently provided by IFAW. TRAFFIC is extremely concerned with the manner in which this project was initiated, not because funding came from an NGO, but because this funding was provided conditionally and in terms of a contract. TRAFFIC supports the ESPU and supports funding of the unit primarily through government sources. TRAFFIC also recognises that the unit, faced by budget constraints, may also raise funds through donations, from any and all legal sources, to maintain their operational efficacy but believes this should not be the norm. Our office does not feel that it is appropriate for the ESPU to enter into a funding contract which may have prevented the unit from conducting it's research in a completely independent manner and in accordance with the mandate within which they are required to operate. The letter Commissioning the ESPU to carry out the project contains a confidentiality clause restricting circulation of final project reports to the ESPU and the contracting NGO. TRAFFIC finds it unacceptable that a unit of the South African Police was prepared to enter into a contract which contained such a confidentiality clause. The fact that the report has now been released to the public, albeit in expurgated form which conceals the name of the funding agency or the manner in which the project was initiated, is almost certainly due to the pressure exerted by the NGO’s mentioned above, at the same meeting. With respect to these circumstances the following questions need to be answered:
• Is it legal for the ESPU, or any other unit of the police, to undertake investigative operations like Operation Jumbo in neighbouring countries on behalf of non-government organisations?
• Is it legal for the ESPU, or any other unit of the police, to accept unrestricted funds from foreign organisations such as IFAW?
• Is it legal for the ESPU, or any other unit of the police, to accept funds under contract from foreign organisations such as IFAW?
• Is it legal for the ESPU, or any other unit of the police, to provide reports on the findings of their investigative operations to foreign non-governmental organisations such as IFAW?
2. Process and Oversight: The manner in which the ESPU conducted research in certain African States lacked transparency. In Malawi members of the ESPU, including an inspector Ben van Tonder, met with the Regional Director of TRAFFIC, Mr T. Milliken, in which they stated that the ESPU was conducting their visit to Malawi in order to provide training in law enforcement and anti-poaching. They at no stage mentioned the real purpose of their visit or that IFAW had initiated the project. This occurred on the l5 November l998. On the l6 November l998, Mr Milliken contacted the South African High Commission to Malawi and was informed by the Charge D' Affairs, Mr L. Mokwena, that when this same delegation was confronted by Mr Mokwena about the connection of the NGO to the project, they denied any knowledge of such connection. However, a document dated l3 October from Inspector BJ van Tonder to a Ms E Haber, First Secretary with the South African High Commission to Namibia, states explicitly that the project is funded by IFAW. It is clear therefore from this correspondence that a member of the ESPU team, conducting investigations in Malawi, neglected to inform Mr Milliken of material facts concerning the project as well as the true reason for their presence in Malawi. In addition the correspondence certainly seems to indicate that they lied openly to the Charge D' Affair of the SA High Commission to Malawi when pressed on the issue of who was funding the project. Similar misleading information was used to obtain the co-operation of the Namibian, and possibly Tanzanian, authorities. We believe that this deception has damaged the reputation of the ESPU within South Africa and regionally. These matters are symptomatic of the manner in which the operation was conducted and highlights a lack of transparency and oversight by the South African Government, especially the South African Police Services. In this regard the following questions need to be asked:
• What is the review and oversight process for gaining internal (i.e. South African Police Services) approval for activities such as Operation Jumbo? Was such approval gained on the basis of documentation and descriptions outlining the true nature of Operation Jumbo, was it gained with documentation and descriptions that were less than forthcoming or was written permission not obtained? If the latter is true, were verbal assurances that permission had been obtained from appropriate authorities uttered deceitfully?
• What is the review and oversight process for gaining approval from other relevant arms of government (Department’s of Foreign Affairs, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Safety and Security) for activities such as Operation Jumbo? Was such approval gained on the basis of documentation and descriptions outlining the true nature of Operation Jumbo, was it gained with documentation and descriptions that were less than forthcoming or was written permission not obtained? If the latter is true, were verbal assurances provided to interested parties that permission had been obtained uttered deceitfully?
• Did Operation Jumbo serve to support South Africa’s foreign policy objectives in the region?
• Did Operation Jumbo serve to support South Africa’s wildlife conservation objectives within the region?
• In sending investigators to neighbouring countries, were the relevant wildlife authorities or other individuals interviewed directly, informed of the ESPU’s contractual relationship with IFAW or that information which they provided might be used in a future publication for public circulation?
• Were officials of South Africa’s High Commissions, who arranged for contacts with the relevant wildlife authorities, duly informed of the IFAW connection?
• If Operation Jumbo proceeded on a less than transparent basis, do such covert activities constitute "spying" on neighbouring countries?
• Was Operation Jumbo designed to support an IFAW initiative pursuant to the 41st meeting of the Standing Committee of CITES where important decisions on African elephant conservation were expected to be taken?
• Does a back-up training programme exist or is this simply a cover or something that has subsequently been designed as a cover for Operation Jumbo?
3. Policy Issues: IFAW's policy on sustainable use, and more specifically the proposed resumption in ivory trade for certain SADC countries, is diametrically opposed to that of the South African government, as well as that of all other SADC member states. TRAFFIC is of the opinion that had the funding connection been revealed to all officials, departments, organisations and persons contacted, both in South Africa and the other African States involved, that many would have refused to co-operate with the ESPU. This point is particularly relevant when one considers that the contract between the ESPU and IFAW requires the ESPU to hand over, not only interim and final reports, but also any photographic and video evidence obtained by them in connection with the investigation. This evidence may be used against regional governments to somehow demonstrate their inability to manage their wildlife. The fact that the ESPU did not make it clear that IFAW was providing the funding will certainly damage South Africa's relationship with a number of the African States included in the report.
4. Financial Matters: TRAFFIC is concerned that because of the ESPU's heavy time commitments to Operation Jumbo (approximately 828 man days), that other more pressing domestic natural resource management issues may have been neglected, for instance abalone poaching. With respect to this neglect it is probable that taxpayers money was ineffectively utilised or abused despite the fact that IFAW money was apparently used to finance the entire operation. Consequently, TRAFFIC would encourage an investigation into which projects, if any, were suspended or postponed due to this operation. In addition, the following specific questions about financial arrangements for Operation Jumbo need to be asked:
• Were funds obtained from any other sources other than IFAW?
• Were any government funds used, either directly or indirectly; for instance towards payment of salaries, motor vehicles, photographic equipment etc.
• With respect to the IFAW money received, were all funds transferred to bona fide ESPU accounts, either those within the South African Police or the ESPU Trust Funds, or were they received in other ways such as direct cash payments or to other accounts?
• Did IFAW make any direct payments for ESPU expenses, and if so, to whom, for what and when?
• Did IFAW cover personnel costs, such as pro-rated reimbursements for time, salary enhancements or other types of "in-pocket" payments of any ESPU officers? If so, what were these costs and how were these costs reported?
5. ESPU Mandate: TRAFFIC is concerned that the aims and objectives of Operation Jumbo falls outside of the ESPU's mandate and hence should not have been conducted. However, due to the vague nature of the ESPU's mandate, TRAFFIC is of the opinion that their mandate should be revised to provide greater clarity of their aims and objectives.
6. Concluding Statement:
TRAFFIC acknowledges the critical role that the ESPU plays in combating wildlife crime in South Africa. The Operation Jumbo issue has highlighted several serious problems with the operation of the unit, namely:
• The ESPU’s mandate seems to be so vague that it seemingly enables the unit to do practically whatever it wishes. This is problematic to the extent that the ESPU are able to accept consultancies from foreign NGOs and to conduct operations wherever they wish in the region without due regard to regional relationships. In addition, excessive regional emphasis in their duties reduces the time spent on important national issues. TRAFFIC would like to see the ESPU’s operational mandate revised, clarified and made more accessible to the general public.
• The ESPU is facing a financial crisis and is unable to meet its normal operating expenses and is forced to raise funding from outside sources. This has almost certainly contributed to the current situation. TRAFFIC would like to see the unit receiving sufficient funding from normal national government sources rather than non-government sources.
• TRAFFIC would like to see greater co-operation between the ESPU and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, and other relevant government departments. This would be in accordance with Chapter 3 of the South African Constitution which deals with co-operative governance (specifically section 41, 1h). This type of communication gap has epitomised the situation between government departments for many years as illustrated in TRAFFIC’s publication ‘South Africa’s Wildlife Trade at the Crossroads – CITES implementation and the need for a national re-assessment’.
TRAFFIC East/ Southern Africa: Review of report
Review of "Report on Operation Jumbo: Surveillance of Sub-Sahara Africa Transboundary Wildlife Crime - with special reference to African Elephant Poaching"
16 March 1999
TRAFFIC East/Southern Africa has prepared this review of the above document at the request of Mr Bavumile H. Vilakazi, chairman of the Environmental Portfolio sub-committee charged with investigating Operation Jumbo. The format of this review follows the chapter headings of the Operation Jumbo report and concentrates on key issues rather than on minor editorial issues such as spelling and grammatical structure, of which there are many. In reviewing this document it is important to remember that its research was initiated by an external non-governmental organisation, not the ESPU itself;. this knowledge is important when interpreting the reasons provided in the report for conducting the research and the attempts that have been made to "officialise" the document. In addition, the report has been reviewed from a scientific perspective as criminology is a science which should be conducted according to normal scientific protocols. Where sections of the report have been quoted inverted commas have been used and TRAFFIC comments provided within brackets.
The need for ecological criminological research is beyond doubt necessary to understand the complex relationship between organised/ petty wildlife crime and political and socio-economic influences at play in South Africa and the region. It can also be said that the science of ecological criminology has also been neglected. It is important that this deficiency be rectified. However, the field of environmental criminology is broad and encompasses social, political, economic, psychological and various specialist ecological disciplines. For the author to state that his field of criminology has only been emerging since 1991, without proper referencing of his statement, is misleading as conservation practitioners, including conservation NGO’s, the ESPU, provincial, national and regional conservation agencies, have been facing up to and solving wildlife crimes for many years prior to this. The author contradicts himself later in the report (Pg. 8 - Ecological Criminology 1st Para) where he states "It is a new paradigm within the field of criminology, which has been explored in South Africa since the mid 1990’s. Solutions to wildlife crime in the region are complex and range from community conservation programmes such as CAMPFIRE in Zimbabwe, to the establishment of nurseries (e.g. Silver Glen in KwaZulu-Natal) to propagate valuable medicinal plants driven close to extinction by the "illegal" traditional medicine trade. All these programmes have recognised the nature of the crimes involved within communities and have adopted methodologies to change the criminals into environmental caretakers. This process undoubtedly falls into the field of criminology but is normally dealt with by conservation scientists.
It should also be noted that TRAFFIC International has not simply created "knowledge on the monitoring of trade in wildlife products" (Pg. 1). Certainly TRAFFIC has expertise in market analysis methodologies as misleadingly stated by the author, but more importantly TRAFFIC East/Southern Africa has produced a body of well-researched reports on wildlife trade dynamics within South Africa and the region. These documents also fall within the arena of criminological research.
In conclusion, the general impression of this section is that most statements made are loose and unsubstantiated. The net effect of this is to mislead the reader with statements that appear to be based on fact but for which no evidence of fact or context is provided. For instance in the last Paragraph it is stated that "The ESPU has been inundated with requests….." (Pg. 1), but no proof of this is provided (i.e. which countries, what did they request). In fact, some of the countries visited by the ESPU teams, Namibia and Zimbabwe for example, are not believed to have submitted any such requests whatsoever; if so, it would seem that such statements are self-serving.
More seriously, the reasons provided for the ESPU conducting this research are given as "providing assistance in training, the assessment of law enforcement capabilities and anti-poaching assistance as envisaged by the Lusaka agreement"(Pg.’s 1 and 2). Despite the fact that South Africa has not formally ratified the Lusaka Agreement, or that the countries who have, have failed to operationalise the Agreement’s Task Force for several successive years, these remain noble statements, but the secret manner in which the project was conducted detracts from their merit. Indeed, if these were the real objectives then the ESPU could have entered into normal intergovernmental discussions with the countries concerned to determine what assistance was required without conducting a highly secretive mission. In conclusion, the introduction misleads the reader as it hides the fact that the project is based upon a contractual financial arrangement between the ESPU and a US-based branch of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
The overall impression of this section is that the stated objectives are what TRAFFIC would expect the level of co-operation between governments to be. It must be noted that the objectives stated here (Pg. 2, 2nd Para points a to e) are far more detailed than those provided to regional governments to motivate the ESPU’s visit. However, it is puzzling that to achieve these levels of co-operation between governments that such a mission had to be organised when normal intergovernmental contact would have sufficed. Another anomaly is that whereas Phase one was meant to be an overt intelligence gathering mission, it was actually a covert operation conducted in terms of a contract signed with a foreign non-government agency. Although the ESPU presented themselves to governments overtly in terms of most of the objectives stated in this section, failure to disclose the contractual relationship with IFAW could be construed as a hidden agenda. This agenda apparently included the gathering of data and provision of a report to the sponsoring NGO, and achieving this objective necessitated a full mission to each country.
Other anomalies exist in this section, for instance Pg. 3, 3rd Para, 1st sentence: "Project Jumbo was officially approved on 20 August 1998." This is not true as TRAFFIC is in possession of correspondence (Annex 1) between the ESPU and the South African High Commission in Namibia (dated 17/06/98) which states "The ESPU has already committed itself in February 1998 to perform the functions stipulated in the above mentioned correspondence. At present the sponsoring institution (IFAW?) is pressurising the ESPU to fulfil its commitment." The IFAW contract with ESPU was signed on 18 March 1998 and it seems that some other form of commitment had been provided by the ESPU as early as February. The "above mentioned correspondence" apparently refers to a letter sent to the Director General of Foreign Affairs on 18 May 1998 outlining the ESPU’s intention to "Assess the level of training", "Familiarise themselves with the specific circumstances in each country for consideration when drafting a training programme" and "These visits will also serve to improve relations and create a better understanding ……..information exchange". Thus it appears that the ESPU had committed themselves to a process at least seven months before the report states the project was officially approved. Preparations for the country visits, apparently under false pretences, were possibly underway at least two months before official approval. This leads one to assume that the ESPU conducted the project without official permission for at least two months. When permission was given in August one must still question what was approved. It appears that the real reason for Operation Jumbo was not provided to the official approvers of the project. Also it seems that the only reason the ESPU had to conduct a full scale mission (Operation Jumbo) was because they were committed to the terms of the contract signed with IFAW.
3. Research Methodology
Although the methodology appears to include all the aims and objectives of the research teams as motivated to each government there are a number of notable omissions, for instance:
• No examples of the data gathering sheets utilised are provided in the report. Indeed it appears that data sheets were not utilised in any systematic manner during field research as most questionnaires referred to in the report were provided to researchers once they had returned from the field. This may be standard debriefing methodology amongst policemen but is not a reliable way of obtaining systematic scientific (criminological) data if used in isolation. A further indication of the lack of preparation is illustrated with the statement that "Where full names or titles of interviewees are not mentioned it could be due to the fact that it is unknown to the fieldworkers".
• Although meetings were organised no reference is made to minutes of workshops or meetings conducted with officials of neighbouring countries. This is surprising as this would be a standard method used to support the research reports claims that assistance and training had been requested. In the main body of country results little systematic attempt is made to state if and how the objectives stated in the Methodology had been addressed or resolutions and actions determined. In this regard the report appears to be a random compilation of anecdotal information.
In addition to these general observations there are specific issues which do not make sense, for instance:
Pg. 4, Research Methodology, Initial Research Objectives, 1st Para: "Since the commencement of Project Jumbo, an exploratory project, the following objectives were set out as goals for the project:" This sentence is confusing and ambiguous. Firstly, it tries to make out that Operation Jumbo was an exploratory project attempting to determine whether or not a phenomenon existed. It is obvious that the ESPU had already identified what they were going to do as the problems were clearly stated in the Introduction and Background. Secondly, many of the stated objectives/ methods were not exploratory as again it was clear that problems existed and have been common knowledge for some years. For instance can a process of "Assist(ing) nature conservation organisations to participate in the international exchange of information on ecological crime through Interpol" or "Broadening of knowledge and practical experience with regard to investigation methods concerning wildlife crime" be regarded as exploratory processes. These seem to be objectives, (not a methodology). Whatever the answer to this question, this methodology (goals?, objectives?) is confusing. This may also be due to poor sentence construction.
Pg. 4, 3.2 Data gathering, 2nd Para, last sentence: " A comparative analysis of law enforcement in the various countries with elephants as only variable would therefore be possible". In normal scientific parlance the elephant (commodity) in this case would be the dependent variable (i.e. subject to the influence of the dependent variables) and the laws, crime, poverty, activity of poachers etc. which vary from country to country and place to place, the independent variables (i.e. having an impact on the dependent variable). The use of "variable" in this case seems vague as there are many variables involved in criminological studies many of which have not been specifically included in the methodology. The elephant is not the only variable one is interested in. This omission makes it difficult to determine what the hypothesis is which the author is trying to prove by the adoption of variable analysis. It is not clear what specific information was to be gathered as field questionnaires were not provided with the report. In at least one interview conducted ESPU teams did not take notes. If this was a general trend then the accumulation of real scientific data would be extremely limited. The distribution of questionnaires to field workers upon their return to integrate and organise their findings (5th Para) would seem to be a late attempt at bringing order to what was apparently a chaotic situation. This structuring should have been done well before teams ventured into the field.
4. Ecological Criminology
The title of this section would seem to indicate that the criminologically analysed results of the study would be presented in this chapter. This expectation was not met. Instead the chapter contains mainly non-referenced and anecdotal information about a variety of topics ranging from country population size, details of national parks, elephant populations, poaching statistics to general travel information. In general the referencing of data is poor, thus calling into question the assertion that this report is a serious criminological review.
It is difficult to find any pattern in the country sections especially when attempting to relate results back to the various stated objectives of Operation Jumbo, namely, future co-operation, capacity building, information exchange, analysis of methods used in illegal wildlife trade, identifying primary problems etc. The only objective apparently met was that of broadening knowledge and practical experience. It is assumed that given the long period spent in most countries there would have been (e.g. 12 days in Namibia) ample time to generate a comprehensive report and action plan, however, nothing of use was produced. With such little effort made to analyse the collected data in terms of the various stated aims and objectives it is difficult to see how the report can be used constructively.
The South African section provides little information on current initiatives to develop new legislation or CITES management procedures in accordance with the DANCED project. The reference to CONNEP (initiated in 1995) without mentioning the new Environmental Protection Act of 1999 is puzzling, as is the omission of a discussion around the draft Endangered Species Protection Act and CITES Implementation Act (although mentioned briefly in a later chapter). This latter piece of legislation will impact greatly on the ESPU’s activities in South Africa. Another notable omission from this section is mention of the role that provincial law enforcement staff play in fighting wildlife crime. These omissions seems to demonstrate that no attempt at complete analysis has been attempted.
The reason for the inclusion of certain information is unknown, for instance, in the Mozambique section (Pg. 21) the reference to the existence of fences is unclear. According to Lindeque (in.litt. 1999), the movement of wildlife in and out of protected areas can be entirely desirable, and is indeed a management objective in some countries.
6. Comparative Analysis
This chapter apparently sets out to summarise the important issues within countries visited and trans-border criminological issues. Although interesting from an anecdotal perspective, this can hardly be described as a detailed analysis of problems. In addition many anecdotes are inaccurate or misleading. The issues presented here appear to consist of isolated incidents or statements with unrelated conjecture appended. For instance, Pg. 69, 1st Paragraph under the Chapter title states "The CITES ban had a influence on the ivory trade in so far as it contributed to the restoration of the elephant population in countries which were not affected by a full scale war, poverty and economic collapses of governments. The 1997 upliftment of the ban in Zimbabwe allowed the export of government stockpiled ivory to Japan and was received with mixed feelings" Which ban? - We assume this refers to the ivory trade ban of 1989. The Appendix II down-listing for ivory although approved in 1997 only came into effect at the February 1999 CITES Standing Committee meeting and the export has not yet occurred; the down-listing for live elephants and skins came into effect three months after the June 1997 meeting. It is not clear who experienced the mixed feelings referred to above, the government of Zimbabwe, overseas animal rights groups, conservation organisation? The final sentence in this paragraph states: "The majority of people in Sub-Saharan Africa seem to be totally unaware of the issues surrounding the lifting of the ban on ivory trade" Firstly, one must question what this has to do with a section on Zimbabwe, and secondly, there is no indication of how this conclusion was reached and seems to be a random assumption.
There appear to be some notable exclusions from this section namely, the results of the Operations Jumbo’s stated aims and objectives. Although containing some fragmented examples of problems in various countries there is no comprehensive presentation nor analysis of research data aimed at achieving the stated aims and objectives (future co-operation, capacity building, information exchange, analysis of methods used in illegal wildlife trade, identifying primary problems etc.)
7. Conclusions and Recommendations
Although expected to contain a summary of the ESPU’s findings and consequent actions to assist neighbouring countries there is surprisingly little to support the projects stated aims and objectives. The discourse on CITES which dominates this section seems not to address the domestic wildlife trade problems nor to propose remedial plans of action to be conducted jointly by the ESPU in partnership with relevant neighbours. In addition, the author appears to misunderstand how CITES works, especially the fact that it does not lay down or dictate (although providing guidelines and recommendations for such) the domestic legislation that countries should have in place to provide for enforcement of domestic wildlife legislation. CITES provisions are aimed primarily at international wildlife trade i.e. control of wildlife commodities once they cross an international border.
The balance of discussion involving trade bans, poaching and the influence of human behaviour in thwarting conservation efforts, which, although topical criminological debates, again seems not to address the projects main aims and objectives of generating solutions. The first time that law enforcement strategies/ recommendations are mentioned is on Pg. 87 (points a to d) and in a list of 14 bullet pointed requirements (Pg.’s 88 and 89) for improving the situation in neighbouring countries. Many of these points can be found in the aims and objectives and very little of proactive value has been added. Thus it appears that the report does not in any logical or comprehensive manner attempt to address the issues stated in the methodology and there is no clear indication that co-operative programmes have been established with the law enforcement staff of neighbouring countries.
18 March 1999
compiled by the South African office of TRAFFIC East/Southern Africa.
MADINGI COASTAL COMMUNITY
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