CLSA responds to Draft Integrated Management Plan
Kwazulu Natal communities say that they have a constitutional right to be part of any processes that will directly affect their lives.
These were the sentiments of seven communities who will be affected by the iSimangaliso Draft Integrated Management Plan (IMP).
Community groups from Mvutshane, Mahlungulu, Hlomula and Mazambane, Emalangeni, Enkovukeni and KwaDapha submitted comments on the draft plan, through Coastal Links South Africa (CLSA).
They said that iSimangaliso did not follow the proper public consultation processes and this included the development of the draft plan itself.
“We would hereby like to register our opposition to the Draft iSimangaliso IMP and the non-consultative process that led to the development of the draft itself,” the communities wrote.
Lindani Ngubane of Coastal Links SA said that communities valued and supported the protection of nature but if this protection is at the peril of displacing the poor and threatening their livelihoods then communities will oppose it.
“Communities have the right to take part in any processes that will affect them, if there are processes that will certainly hinder their lives they need to know, so that they can protect themselves,” Ngubane commented.
The comments that the communities submitted also alluded to the fact that the plan was only made available in English and request that copies in the local languages be made available.
A fisheries researcher expert said that the plan uses outdated subsistence language, does not recognise the communities’ customary rights and has an alleged intention to remove communities from the area just outside the Park further away.
“The plan is pushing for conservation above the needs of the people,” the fisheries researcher said.
Currently there are 12 communities who live inside the park with other communities on the fringes of the park. The communities at the fringes have experienced forced removals from the park. Currently many communities have lodged land claims and won and some land claims are still outstanding.
The communities who won land claims were never given the right to return back to the park but instead offered incentives to benefit from the tourist operations within the park.
There were widespread forced removals during the apartheid era and the customary rights of communities were systematically eroded.
The small-scale fishers support moves for environmental protection but not at the expense of communities.
According to the iSimangiliso website, the IMP comment period was from 17 May 2016 until the 17 July 2016.
They describe the IMP as “a high level plan in terms of the national World Heritage Convention Act (Act No. 49 of 1999) and National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, 2003 (Act 57 of 2003) that provides the framework for the management of South Africa’s first World Heritage Site, identifies threats and challenges, and includes a five-year plan and tools for environmental management and tourism, such as zonation. It includes three estuarine management plans with specific actions related to the management of the Kosi Bay, Lake St Lucia and Mgobozeleni systems.”
The IMP is done every five years and the previous one was done in 2012. The park falls under the Department of Environmental Affairs who have outsourced the iSimangalisp World Heritage Authority to manage the park.