The IFP in the KZN Legislature is shocked by the false statement issued by the MEC for the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Hon. Sboniso Duma. It seems the MEC is trying to prevent the IFP from addressing Hluhluwe uMfolozi Park residents tomorrow in uLundi.
The MEC has branded our visit ‘fake news’, yet it is his statement that contains false information.
The IFP would like to put it on record that our leadership is not shaken nor intimidated by this cheap politicking. MEC Duma seems to have little concern for the needs of this community.
We hope that his senior peers will school him regarding the purpose of the Legislature, however, there is still no excuse for allowing the people of Hluhluwe uMfolozi Park to suffer.
The MEC’s statement appears to be nothing but a desperate move on the part of the ruling party to cling to power.
If he had done his research, the MEC would know that the problem of the invasion of wild animals in communities around the game reserve has been an issue since 2012.
It seems that nothing has been done, despite this Department changing hands from MEC Nomusa Dube Ncube, to former MEC Ravi Pillay, and now, to MEC Sboniso Duma.
The local community engaged the IFP and told us that none of these MECs or Ezemvelo Wildlife have been able to resolve this predicament. They told the IFP that their plea for a solution to this issue has fallen on deaf ears, while the pride of lions continue to escape; attacking people and livestock.
In his statement, Duma laments that he is aware of the challenges facing uLundi and surrounding communities. MEC: being aware of challenges does not solve any problems.
The arrogance and level of disrespect that he has levelled against the IFP leadership is not going to win votes or affection from the people of KwaZulu-Natal. The people want service delivery and solutions – not deception and cheap political point-scoring. We warn the ‘new kid on the block’ MEC to desist from uttering hogwash and resorting to verbal diarrhoea.
It is unacceptable to play politics with such a sensitive matter, which has left some local community members with permanent disabilities and caused a grave disturbance for wildlife in the area.
To give the MEC an idea of the gravity of the situation, from July 2022 to date, the following incidents of wild animals escaping from Hluhluwe Imfolozi have been recorded. They escape due to the broken boundary fence, and then some of these vicious wild animals attack and kill livestock. The following animals escaped:
- 4 July 2022: Pride of lions
- 6 July 2022: Pride of lions
- 15 July 2022: Pride of lions; and six were killed
- 31 July 2022: Four elephants
- 6 August 2022: Buffalo; still outside Reserve
- 8 August 2022: Black Rhino
- 10 August 2022: Two white rhinos escaped and Zanele Mbhele was attacked and injured by one of these rhinos.
- 11 August 2022: Lions
- 13 August 2022: Lions
- 14 August 2022: Two lions
- 15 August 2022- Pride of lions
- 18 August 2022: Lions; Biyela side
- 20 August 2022: Pride of lions
- 21 August 2022: White Rhino
- 21 August 2022: Lion
- 24 August: Lion
These animals escaped in the space of two months: how many have escaped over the past ten years? How much longer must these communities live in fear? The IFP will not stand by, nor does it need permission from the ANC to consult with communities anywhere in KwaZulu-Natal or outside its boundaries. We are tried and tested leaders in our own right, we cannot be lectured by political bambinos. We are committed to meeting with community members and finding solutions.
Mr Blessed Gwala
Chief Whip of IFP Caucus in KZN Legislature
078 290 5842