On 8 October, iSimangaliso Wetland Park hosted a webinar for their proposed Integrated Management Plan (IMP) for 2022-2031. The webinar was part of a consultative process undertaken by the Park for affected and interested parties, yet it failed to include any rural grassroot communities directly affected.
This exclusive method of public participation neglected to recognise the voices of rural communities therefore marginalising those who live adjacent and depend on the Park for their livelihoods.
Taryn Pereira from the Durban University of Technology questioned these online consultations, arguing that they were heavy on data and required access to bandwidth and technology that communities simply did not have. She further added that the IMP document itself was long and written in technical English therefore excluding local languages.
Despite the open days provided by iSimangaliso many communities such as Dukuduku, Nkundusi, Mabibi and Kosi Bay were not included in the public participation processes.
The IMP also failed to address the long and well documented history of harassment and intimidation often experienced by small-scale fishers at the hands of rangers. Lindani Ngubani from Masifundise added that small-scale fishers are often unable to carry out their livelihoods due to the criminalisation of fishers in iSimangaliso.