On the 21st of September, Coastal Links KZN Provincial Executive Committee and a large number ol local members attended DAFF Imbizo in KwaSokhlu, KZN. 

The Imbizo, addressed by DAFF Minister Senzeni Zokwana and Deputy DG Siphokazi Ndudane, was strongly impacted by the presence of Coastal Links KZN.

KZN Coastal Link PEC members at the Imbizo

Indeed, during the question time, three members of Coastal Links made powerful statements, drawing on the key issues experienced at the local and provincial level, identified during the Provincial Meeting held in the previous days.

A number of issues were highlighted: the human rights abuse experienced in the communities, specifically violations and collusion with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and SAP; how the lack of implementation of the SSP Policy is impacting the fisher households to put food on the table; the lack of attention paid to fishing communities and the challenges they face in the local Integrated Development Plans (IDPs); the ongoing communities’ dispossession caused by MPAs and iSimangaliso World Heritage Site; the pollution and ocean and land grabbing experienced in relation to mining.

Subsequently, Philile Mtshali, Coastal Links KZN PEC member from Mpembeni, handed over a letter to the Minister, on behalf of Coastal Links KZN.

The interventions of Coastal Links members forced the DDG to modify the agenda to address the issues identified and raised by the Coastal Links KZN. However, in many instances the DDG and the minister showed that they were not informed on recent developments in the management of iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Furthermore, the Minister showed a lack of knowledge (if not deliberate lying) regarding the implementation of the policy, stating that the policy will be completed in KZN by December and that fishers will have individual permits and they will be able to sell on their own terms, completely ignoring that the principles and collective rights’ provision of the policy.

The statements made by the Minister and the DDG are worrying for the communities. While commitment to the SSF Policy and to upliftment of coastal communities is expressed in words, they are not followed up in the facts. Although they have their human rights recognized by the South African Constitution and the SSF Policy, fishing communities in KZN and EC are still unable to legally fish for their livelihoods.

In the next weeks, Coastal Links will embark in organising with LED managers and Mayors of their municipalities to discuss issues around the IDPs and advocate for fishing to be included, in a process of review. The failure to do so will lead to local protests.

At the national level, failure of speeding up the implementation of the SSF Policy or provide interim measures to accommodate the livelihood needs of fishing communities in KZN and EC will also be met with national-level protests and actions.

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