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Deputy Minister Barbara Thomson's speech at the launch of Mayibuye Game Reserve Wildlife Economy pilot project

12 April 2018
Umkhambathini Local Municipality


The Executive Mayor of Msunduzi local municipality
Your Royal Highnesses
The Provincial leadership gathered here today
The Regional Land Claims Commission
The Mayibuye Community Trust;
The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation who are the current project implementing agent.
Moputso Pty (Ltd.) who is the project equity partner
Business for Good (BfG) who is one of the founding strategic partners of the overall project.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife,
Ladies and Gentlemen

April is a significant period in our country because it is the month in which we celebrate Freedom Day. Freedom Day is a celebration of our triumph over apartheid and its injustice and tyranny that condemned our people to a life of extreme poverty, economic deprivation and land dispossession.

As we gather here today we are also mourning the loss of one of the people that made it possible for us to celebrate Freedom Day, Mama Winnie Madikizela Mandela. It is appropriate that as we gather here we should take this time and observe a moment of silence in remembrance of this gallant fighter and icon of our Liberation Struggle.

Mama Winnie was the face of our liberation struggle during the worst period of repression. She bravely resisted all attempts by the Apartheid State to silence her from speaking against the evils the apartheid system visited upon our people. She bravely spoke out against the forceful dispossession of our people’s land. She bravely spoke out against the exclusion of the majority of South Africans from meaningful participation in the national economy of the country. She bravely spoke out against a system that saw the accumulation of vast wealth by the white minority at the expense of the black majority.

She left us at a time when the economic structure in essence, still excludes the majority of South Africans who happens to be Africans, young and female. In order to honour the legacy of Mamma Winnie we must fundamentally transform the structural inequalities in our national economy so that more of the previously marginalized people can meaningfully participate and significantly share in benefits of a transformed and inclusive economy. 

Our task as handed down by Mamma Winnie is to improve the position of women, youth and communities in the economy to ensure that they are owners, managers, producers and financiers. All sectors of society including the environmental sector are thus called upon to devise plans that can contribute to achieving this task.

The environmental sector is ideally placed to increase the ownership percentage of black women, youth and communities in our economy through the identification of economic opportunities associated with the sustainable use of our diverse range of natural resources or biodiversity.

Biodiversity is globally recognised as a basis for economic growth and sustainable development. With South Africa being the 3rd most mega-diverse country, the economic opportunities are endless. To exploit these economic opportunities the Department of Environmental Affairs has commenced with plans to   transform two sub-sectors of the biodiversity economy, that is, the wildlife and bio-prospecting sectors within the ambit of the National Biodiversity Economy Strategy (NBES) and implementation plan.

This will be done through creating opportunities, ensuring a conducive environment for business to operate, developing and implementing support mechanism that will see meaningful participation of Previously Disadvantaged Individuals including communities in the mainstream economy.

To give you some perspective of the enormous potential of the South African wildlife sector, I have been informed that the sector currently employs approximately 100 000 people across the value chain. The sector’s value chain is centred on game and wildlife farming/ranching activities that relate to the stocking, trading, breeding, and hunting of game, and all the services and goods required to support this value chain. The key drivers of this value chain include domestic hunters, international hunters and a growing retail market demand for wildlife products.

It is believed that the domestic hunting market was approximately R6.4 billion while the international hunting market was approximately R1.4 billion in 2013. In addition to hunting, game farmers can generate income from the sale of game meat, wildlife products and live game. The retail and export game meat market was estimated at R230 million in 2013. The Sector also has little domestic and international market multiplier effect and job creation characteristics of the tourism industry and, it is therefore also an industry with a large economic transformation potential.

Unfortunately, the structural inequalities characterising our economy has placed several barriers, including insufficient access, ownership and inefficient utilisation of land and lack of infrastructure development support for entrepreneurs on black South Africans. In particular, high capital costs for acquiring land, fencing and game species are major barriers to entry and transformation. Overcoming these barriers to entry or challenges requires coordinated efforts from the government, private sector and communities.

We are currently working together with other stakeholders within the sector to identify ten million hectares of suitable land for participation of previously disadvantaged individuals and communities as owners of sustainable wildlife-based business ventures. Support programmes such as infrastructural development (game fence, ecotourism facilities etc), game donation/loaning, skills development and training, access to markets and funding will be facilitated to ensure sustainable businesses.

It is within this context that we must view today’s official launch of the Mayibuye Game Reserve. The local community, the Ximba people, were awarded a land restitution claim in terms of a settlement agreement in April 2007. The Mayibuye Community Trust formed by the community entered into a 99-year lease with the developer and the strategic development partner, whereby the land would be developed into a game reserve with a component of residential property, commercial sites and hotels.

The Mayibuye Game Reserve has made significant progress since the R10 million funding received from the Department. A 35 km wildlife fence has been erected, a gate house and offices are being built, two houses have been refurbished, 15 Field Rangers have been trained and employed while a commercial “Business for Good” site has been refurbished and wildlife introductions (zebra & wildebeest) have been initiated. In terms of employment, 76 temporary EPWP jobs have been created through erection of the fence. This has unlocked a further R100 million private investment for the development of the eco-estate.

As government we are extremely grateful for the support we have received from the various stakeholders involved in the Mayibuye Game Reserve project, in particular the following entities:

  • The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation (a registered Non-Profit conservation and humanitarian organisation founded by internationally acclaimed conservationist and world renowned author – Dr Lawrence Anthony) who are also the lead applicant to the funding application, and current project implementing agent.
  • Moputso Pty (Ltd.) an equity partner who has provided the necessary start-up capital and has, to date, contributed in excess of R18,000,000 to the project, taking the business well into the development phase.
  • The Mayibuye Community Trust comprising of 454 claimants who own a 50% share in the development company – Pamish Investments;
  • Business for Good (BfG) as a first commercial partner will provide an entry for the community into the market place and is already set to build a steel fabrication factory which will employ 200 people in the next 6 months. The employees who will all be from the beneficiary communities will have a 51% shareholding in the company, with an estimated monthly turnover of R 2.5 million. BfG is one of the founding strategic partners of the overall project.
  • Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife is a strategic partner that will incorporate its Nagle Dam nature reserve into the greater game reserve, as well as donate wildlife stocking populations for the game reserve. In this regard I want to acknowledge the commitment made by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to loan game species to the Mayibuye community. The species to be loaned include 18 Blue Wildebeest, 14 Zebra, 6 Giraffe and 40 Impala.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Mayibuye Game Reserve is a success story in the making that will fundamentally transform the rural economic landscape in the area. It is a consequence of our commitment as government and relevant stakeholders to work together to ensure a thriving, inclusive and sustainable wildlife economy for the well-being of all South Africans.

This partnership between government and key stakeholders was further cemented at the recently concluded 3rd Biodiversity Economy Indaba in East London through pledges by key stakeholders in the wildlife, bioprospecting/biotrade and eco-tourism sectors to ensure greater inclusivity and transformation. Amongst others, the pledges included the South African National Parks (SANParks) which undertook to donate 3 000 head of game to emerging wildlife farmers in the next three years, the pledge to donate 1 200 head of game over four years by Ezemvelo KZN wildlife, and the promise to donate 1 500 animals by the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency in support of transformation and mobilisation of rural previously disadvantaged communities over five years.

Let me conclude by saying that I have no doubt the commitments made will materialise. We are on course to effect fundamental change through this initiative that will irrevocably change our rural landscapes from economically depressed and   poverty stricken areas into prosperous communities.

Thank you.


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