Wild Coast toll road decision is shameful

  • Posted on: 30 July 2011
  • By: JB

http://www.themercury.co.za/wild-coast-toll-road-decision-is-shameful-1.1108434 <i>July 29 2011 at 11:29am </i>

<b>Wild Coast toll road decision is shameful</b>

SILLY, silly me. All these years I have laboured under the illusion that the prime duty of the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs and its minister was to protect our water resources and be the steward of our environment.

That is the role that was played in the past when the ministries were separate, by ministers like Kader Asmal and Valli Moosa.

But now it increasingly seems as though the ministry, under Edna Molewa, has abdicated its stewardship role, and has again become a Cinderella ministry that bows to pressure from big business, industry and more “senior” government ministries.

How else to explain two recent decisions which are totally inimical to the future of our wild areas and of our environment?

The first is this week’s dismissal of every single one of 49 appeals against the granting of permission to Sanral, to go ahead with the construction of the highly controversial N2 toll road through the Pondoland Wild Coast region of the former Transkei.

The second is the recent decision of the department to give the Limpopo Coal Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Australian Coal of Africa Limited, permission to extract 2.4 billion litres of water annually from the Limpopo alluvial aquifer for its Vele Colliery adjacent to Mapungubwe. That decision, which is likely to have a disastrous effect on the Limpopo Basin, and hence on all downstream areas, including the Kruger National Park, the Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site, the Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area and on areas in Mozambique, is being appealed by a coalition of heavyweight NGOs.

Considering that the decision was based in part on an apartheid-era calculation that only 495 people (read 495 white people) relied on the sub-catchment in question for their water needs, I would, as a lay person, think that an appeal would have a fair chance of success.

But then I also thought that about the Wild Coast appeal. Silly, silly me. Slap my wrist.

Listen to this statement from Minister Molewa: “The appellants aver that the construction of the road through the Pondoland Centre of Endemicism will lead to an irreversible loss of natural capital and, as such, is regarded as ecologically unsustainable. In addition, attention is drawn to the fact that the Pondoland area is identified in the National Protected Area Expansion Strategy for South Africa – a strategy which was jointly developed by the Department of Environmental Affairs and the SA National Biodiversity Institute – as an area with high protection potential. In fact, it is stated in the Strategy that the creation of a protected area in Pondoland will be the last opportunity to establish a large coastal protected area in South Africa.”

Sounds like a pretty good argument to me, but no, Molewa dismisses it as follows: “I am aware that the proposed road, being a linear development, will fragment this delicate system… In such (a) situation, a balance should be sought between strict preservation on the one hand, and the promotion of development on the other…

“Such developments will only be available if the area is accessible. Thus, by making the area accessible, the construction of the road may contribute towards realising the area’s potential.”

I hate to say this, but our Environment Minister’s understanding of the concept of conservation of the environment is shameful.

In their excellent book, Mkambati and the Wild Coast, Div de Villiers and John Costello ruminate on the future of this unique area.

“It is easy for people to forget the lush forests that have provided medicines, food, shelter and spiritual solitude to generations of AmaMpondo. Together with the rolling grasslands, these forests face increasing commercial exploitation, which offers short-term wealth and a Western culture of progress and success. Thoughtless construction of roads, mines, and ill-conceived tourist developments risk destroying opportunities for the alternative route of carefully planned ecotourism and sustainable resource-use ventures of a kind that could ensure jobs, biodiversity conservation, and the preservation of AmaMpondo culture. The choice will ultimately lie with the AmaMpondo people.

“Hopefully they will make decisions of which their ancestors and future generations will be proud.”

Sadly, they did not not make the end decision. That decision was made by faceless bureaucrats in Pretoria. And it is a decision that should make their ancestors, and future generations, hang their heads in shame.

N2 Toll road decision

  • Posted on: 30 July 2011
  • By: JB

Minister of Water & Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, has approved the controversial N2 tollroad through the environmentally sensitive Pondoland Centre of Endemism.

In a 21 page fax sent out to IAPs she dismissed all 49 appeals lodged in objection to the new road. What is clear is that the minister is being a "loyal cadre" and carrying out the wishes of the ANC, while betraying her office and responsibilities to the environment.

Download the Fax here: 184635892.pdf

26 of the appeals were dismissed out of hand due to the fact that they address socio-economic impacts of the tolling; which was the responsibility of the dept of transport and the SANRAL Act. 

Concerns about ribbon, or linear development were not possible to consider because it would be based on only "potential future developments" and were dismissed.  

A major concern addressed by numerous appeals was SANRAL's bias towards the new 75km section of road between Lusikisiki and Mzamba and against the upgrading of the existing R61. The "Terms of Reference for Environmental Consultant N2 Wild Coast Toll Road Project" (TOR) included a requirement that there must be "due consideration of alternative options and a strong motivation for excluding the R61 and current N2 as alternative options".
This was dismissed by the minister because the client was simply letting the prospective contractors know their requirements. Roughly, their requirements when going to tender equate to any 'impartial' verdict that aligns with their interests. And their interests are a shorter, Tolled road to attract revenue. Not an upgraded existing route that is 75km longer.

Whether the relative costs of upgrading the existing R61 were accurately compared to the cost of the new road with bridge-spans or not is doubtful, but the environmental and cost objections seem tenuous at best. 

And in a classic sleight of hand, the honorable minister proves that the point is moot anyway because the condition was only raised in the TOR, but was never annexed to the contract binding the environmental consultants (CCA) to SANRAL, and can therefor be assumed to be non-binding. In the minister's words "Therefore, I do not agree with the interpretation of the appellant that the EAP is compelled to provide a strong motivation that the R61 and current N2 should not be considered as an option."

Download the Fax here: 184635892.pdf

"That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach."

"Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects... totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by the most eloquent denunciations." -Aldous Huxley

Outrage over N2 approval

  • Posted on: 30 July 2011
  • By: JB

Opponents of the N2 toll road that will snake through the Wild Coast are ready to take their battle to the highest court following the controversial road's approval by Environment Minister Edna Molewa this week.

The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) has fought tooth and nail to build the road from Durban to East London for the past 10 years but has faced fierce opposition from environmentalists, the local community and civil society.

Sanral argues that the Wild Coast community is one of the poorest in the country and would be well served by the development of a road system to encourage tourism and open up the region to economic opportunities.

"We are shocked by the decision, but not really surprised," said Cormac Cullinan, lawyer for the local community opposing the road. "Considering the political support this project had, it was just a matter of time before the road was approved."

Two years ago, before appeals were lodged against the road, Co-operative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka told the SABC: "The N2 road is going ahead. We will make sure that this thing goes ahead."

Cullinan represents the Sigidi, Baleni and Mdatya communities, the Khimbili Property Association and residents in the amaDiba tribal authority living in the Wild Coast.

His firm was successful in getting the project canned in 2004 by then environment minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk, but Sanral reapplied in 2008.

Cullinan said the decision was flawed and his clients would in all likelihood turn to the high court if they could raise the funds for a lengthy court battle. 

Effects of the toll road
The amaPondo had a proud history of resistance, he said. "There is no reason to believe that they would not be ready for a bitter fight if necessary. This road goes right through their ancestral land and will have a profound effect on their culture.

"Our first step would probably be to take the matter on review and seek an immediate interdict against the controversial Greenfields section through the Wild Coast."

The contentious part of the toll road is 90km of new road to be built between Ndwalane and Ntafufu and between Lusikisiki and the Mthamvuna River. It would cut through the Pondoland Centre of Endemism and nine high-level bridges over river gorges would have to be built.

Molewa rejected 49 appeals against the road. The appellants argued that the public participation process was inadequate. But in motivating her decision the minister said she was satisfied that the process had gone beyond legal requirements. In considering the environmental impact assessment (EIA), however, Molewa said she was aware that there were communities along the Wild Coast who might be significantly affected by the construction of the road and who were not consulted. She ordered that their concerns be noted and agreement be reached between them and Sanral.

Opponents say this should have been handled during the public participation process. "This has put communities' rights at risk," said Cullinan.

Molewa said fears about biodiversity loss would be countered by the "wide-ranging" mitigation measures used. She dismissed an appeal to upgrade the existing road, saying that it was not viable. 

The green light for the road also called up the ghost of mining in the region. Cullinan believed that miners would now apply for a new mining licence for the Xolobeni Mineral Sands Project. Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu withdrew a mining licence granted to Australian company Mineral Commodities and its South African subsidiary, Transworld Energy and Minerals, in June. Cullinan said the road would make mining economically viable.

Regarding the mining, Molewa said: "It cannot be expected of the department of environmental affairs to base decisions on potential future developments on the information generated by the EIA for the proposed road."

John Clarke, a development consultant on the Wild Coast, was flabbergasted by the decision, saying the mining project would now find renewed enthusiasm. "There is no doubt in my mind that the mining and the road are linked. This road is economically viable only if it is linked to the mine, and vice versa."

Clarke said a lot of money would now have to be spent to fight the road in the high court. "This money was needed for building clinics and upgrading roads," he said. Sanral could not be reached for comment this week.


Penguin visits Hole in the Wall

  • Posted on: 11 July 2011
  • By: JB
Inyoni (AKA Slipway)Inyoni (AKA Slipway)A crowd of bemused holiday makers gathered on the beach at Hole in the Wall yesterday where a small penguin had set ashore nursing an injured leg. As it is tagged (S29329), it definitely has had human contact before and seems to have landed at the busiest beach in the area specifically looking for help from humans. Especially as it is over 1000km away from its usual habitat. The African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus, Xhosa name: Nombombiya, and also known as the Black-footed Penguin) is an endangered species and there are fewer than 100,000 left in the world. A hiker from nearby Coffee Bay turned out to be a marine biologist from Hawaii, and advised Charlene from Hole in the Wall Hotel on the correct care for the docile, cute little fuzzy, who whacked down 4 sards for dinner, and another 3 for breakfast this morning. Charlene & InyoniCharlene & Inyoni"Inyoni", as Ian and Charlene named it, is being transported to the East London aquarium today. "Threats Of the 1.5-million African Penguin population estimated in 1910, only some 10% remained at the end of the 20th-century. African penguin populations, which breed in Namibia and South Africa, have declined by 95 percent since preindustrial times. Commercial fisheries have forced these penguins to search for prey farther off shore, as well as making them eat less nutritious prey, since their preferred prey has become scarce. Global climate change is also affecting these penguin's prey abundance." (From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_penguin) African PenquinAfrican Penquin"The latest African Penguin census revealed that there are less than 100 000 adults left. Given the large decrease in the 20th century, there is considerable concern about the long-term viability of the African Penguin in the wild. Guano and egg collection caused a near collapse in the penguin population. More recently, reduced availability of pelagic fish, resulting from competition with commercial fisheries, has been responsible for the ongoing declines. the vulnerability of African Penguins is increased further by its concentration within relatively small geographic areas. Consequently, catastrophic events, in the form of oil spills affecting thousands of birds have now become one of the most immediate threats facing African Penguins. The one ray of hope in this otherwise dark cloud is that the African Penguin is a robust and tough animal and thus able to deal with the rehabilitation process far better than other species." (From: http://www.volunteers.bookingsouthafrica.com/listing-penguin-rescue-and-rehabilitation-13.html)

Cher-a-Don Mkulu Kei Horse Trails

Cher-a-Don Mkulu Kei Horse Trails is an award winning, owner-run horse trail company established in 1998. We offer guided horse trekking vacations on well trained horses for all riding abilities, catering from small to large groups, offering short day rides as well as multi-day trekking along the Wild Coast. Beginners to advanced riders of all ages are welcome. Beach rides are approximately 2 hours, leaving at 9:30am and 2:30pm every day. Booking is essential. Our overnight Wild Coast horse trails into the Transkei, range from 2 to 12 days, hopping from hotel to hotel along the pristine coast line. We also offer volunteer/ career break/ gap year opportunities for anyone who would like to take part in a working holiday.

Join the Jikeleza Jog -2011

Be one of the early pioneers to trail run along sunkissed beaches a distance of some 65 kilometres through Wild Coast Wilderness. This inaugural event is to be held over the June long weekend which is fortuitously timed over a full moon so that runners can take advantage of golden miles of hard-pack beach on the spring low-tide with less probability of rain and comfortable daily temperature. The daily run/hike distances are within easy reach of the social jogger and avid hiker with a keen sense of adventure. If you're not sweating for a podium placing, there's plenty of time each day to kick off your shoes, catch your breath under the cool shade of a milkwood or take a refreshing dip in the ocean along the way. The route is unmarked and unmanned, but basic maps will be provided and keeping the sea on your left will guide you to the finish each day. Participants will race as pairs and for those teams competing for a podium position, there will be optional diversions to collect checkpoints along the route Running Terrain

What is SeaPledge ?

Make your SEA Pledge today and become part of the SEA Pledge movement. Visit: http://seacc.org.za/pledge A SEA Pledge is a commitment everyone can make through a written and or monetary pledge to treat the seas, estuaries, coasts and oceans in an environmentally friendly manner. SEA Pledge is more than just a pledge; it is about achieving sustainability, creating opportunities, impacting lives and changing people’s life choices through Sustainable Education and Skills Centres, which will provide education and skills training to help marginalized people who depend upon the seas and other natural resources to find alternative forms of livelihoods and alleviate poverty, while promoting sustainable practices. SEA Pledge and SEAS Centres will be officially launched during COP 17 in a spectacular, fun event that aims to set world records among surfers, divers, swimmers, anglers, yachters, shipping-lines and many others. Visit: www.seacc.org.za/projects/10 or Email seaccsf@gmail.com for more information on how YOU can get involved! "

Wild Coast plans show preference for mining

Click on the map for full size view (1.5Mb) From: www.iol.co.za February 8, 2011 By Ingi Salgado For some time, the state has withheld two pieces of information with significance for mining along the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape. Under much pressure, the government has now released both. Both documents are shocking, but taken together, they paint a cynical picture of a potentially concerted effort to engineer an economically viable dispensation for mining on the Wild Coast running parallel to the planned N2 routewith scant regard for communities and environment.


  • Posted on: 23 November 2010
  • By: JB
Well known Kwazulu-Natal midlands water-colour artist, Joan Bastard, has kindly put together a calendar of paintings for SWC, depicting scenes of Transkei and Pondoland. These calendars are selling for R150 each, of which R30/ calendar is donated to SWC. The remainder goes towards printing costs and artist commission. The calendars are printed on high quality paper and make wonderful mementos and gifts. If you would like to order a calendar (or a whole bunch for your friends, colleagues, office, or family) then please follow these steps:
  • Make full payment to SWC bank account, detailing your name and the code 2011Cal as reference.
  • Send proof of payment, and your postal address, together with the number of calendars you have ordered to swcoastval@gmail.com. Details of SWC bank account: Account Name: SWC Bank: First National Bank Branch: Randburg Account No. 62157997639 Branch Code: 254005 Note - No orders will be taken without prior full payment.
  • Latest developments in the Wild Coast Mining and N2 Toll rd saga

    • Posted on: 15 September 2010
    • By: JB

    The Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) and Legal Resource Centre (LRC) demands decision from the department “by no later than 28 September 2010”, failing which the matter will be taken to High Court.

    Social worker John Clarke has provided the following summary of developments, and opinion.

    Xolobeni Mining
    We are still waiting for DG of Mineral Resources, Sandile Nogcina, to announce the outcome of the appeal by the Amadiba Crisis Committee.  It has been over two years since the appeal was lodged.

    In February this year a special committee was appointed by the DG of Mineral Resources Adv Sandile Nogcina, chaired by ANC MP and President of Contralesa Adv Patekile Holomisa, to consider the appeal and make a recommendation to the Mineral Resources Development Board.   The Special Committee has done its job, but are not at liberty to disclose the recommendation they have made to the Minerals Development Board.

    The attorney handling the matter is Sarah Septhon of LRC, instructing Adv Gilbert Marcus SC and Adv Isabel Goodman. They presented the Special Committee with documentation that, besides containing excellent specialist studies to support their legal argument, included sworn affidavits that attested fraudulent behavior of the mining rights applicants in producing long lists of local residents whose signatures had been forged and many of whom were long deceased, all stating they were in “full agreement with the mining project going ahead”.

    The ACC were confidently expecting that this deceitful and illegal behavior would have on its own constituted sufficient cause for the Minister to summarily revoke the mining licence.  Whatever ambiguities might exist in the legislation governing mining rights (the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act), there is nothing ambiguous about section 47 which empowers the Minister to cancel rights if the applicant has “submitted any inaccurate, incorrect and misleading information…” 

    On instruction from the ACC Sarah has now sent a letter to the Minister demanding a decision in respect of the internal review process “by no later than 28 September 2010”, failing which the matter will be taken to High Court. 

    If the mining rights are upheld by the Minister, the ACC’s legal team is very confident that they will win, even if it has to go all the way to the Constitutional Court, because the community contends that the award of the mining rights is blatantly unconstitutional. 

    N2 Toll Road
    The first N2 Toll Road authorization was set aside in December 2004 by Minister Van Schalkwyk, because of a lack of independence of the EIA consultants.  Rufus Muruma, the executive director of the EIA consultancy Bohlweki and Associates, was found to also be a director of one of the consortium partners, Stewart Scott International, indicating a clear conflict of interests.  It was this fatal flaw which left the Minister with no alternative but set aside the authorization.

    A new proposal/application was however permitted, provided the requirement for independence of the EIA consultancy was satisfied.  A different firm, CCA Environmental was duly appointed.  They used much of the previous report, including the Social Impact Assessment report, which they deemed to good enough.  The new scoping report was done in 2006 – 2007, the draft EIA in 2008-2009, and the final EIA published in January 2010.  
    Comments and objections were lodged at the draft stage by the community through their lawyers Cullinan and Associates.  Particular concern was expressed about the lack of detailed information about the proposed route, compensation arrangements, moving of graves, location of access roads underpasses etc.  

    The Deputy DG of DWEA Joanne Yawitch issued an environmental authorization on 19 April 2010 stipulating various conditions, and inviting objections that the Minister would consider before either endorsing or setting aside the authorization. 

    Objections from several stakeholders were submitted notably; 

    <li>The local Amadiba community who stand to be most significantly affected by the road, and fear that it will render coastal dune mining inevitable. 

    <li>South Coast residents who object to having heavy loaded toll fees that South Coast commuters to Durban will be expected to pay to cross subsidize the construction of the Greenfields section through the Eastern Cape. 

    <li>Many members of Sustaining the Wild Coast objected in their individual capacities to the failure to consider alternative alignments, the overall failure to assess the road impacts in relation to the cumulative impacts of other proposed developments, notably the Xolobeni mining venture, and to poor public participation methods.  

    <li>Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (Bishop Geoff Davies) objected again to the failure to seriously consider alternative alignments, and to the artificiality of an administrative separation of the EIA procedures from the Intent to toll procedure, which will only ensue after the road is approved.  
    WESSA and other environmental NGO’s focused on the threat to biodiversity in the Pondoland Centre of Endemism by these developments, in contravention of the Convention of Biological Diversity.
    Significantly, the local Amadiba Community are convinced that the N2 Toll Road is ‘carrying a calf’, in that it goes hand in glove with the mining, a proposal which they have already categorically rejected.  They again contracted attorney Cormac Cullinan to lodge their objections, which were largely focused on the concerns about a very poor public consultation process.  They maintain the Public Participation process failed to meet even the very basic requirements in terms of customary law, which requires that all land related matters must be openly discussed at open consultation meetings held under the auspices of the Tribal Authority  at the Tribal Court house or Komkulu  (Great Place).   This never happened, even during the first round EIA Public Participation done by Bohlweki.  

    In contrast, Cormac did meet with them at the Komkulu, and we arranged to have the proceedings filmed to ensure complete transparency.  A DVD copy was submitted with the objections, together with affidavits from the Queen of the AmaPondo, local residents, and various subject matter specialists arguing that the conclusions and recommendations of the EIA were again fatally flawed, having inter alia failed to take meaningful account of comments and concerns submitted on the scoping report and draft EIA.

    Sanral lawyers (Bell Dewar and Hall) are apparently trying desperate to counter the objections, which suggest that the confidence SANRAL once had in the EIA report satisfying the legislative requirements was misplaced. 

    The local chief, Lunga Baleni, was approached by one of their consultants asking for him to sign an affidavit stating his retrospective consent – which in itself amounts to a procedural violation. 

    The Dept of Environment tried to exclude the video submission stating that “only written submissions will be entertained”.  They backed down when it was pointed out that many of the affected residents were illiterate and would be seriously prejudiced by the restriction.  
    Two further issues of major controversy have now come into play, which have major implications as to how the above two controversies will be ultimately resolved. 

    <b>Succession Dispute on Kingship of AmaMpondo</b>
    The incumbent King of the AmaMpondo, Mpondombini Sigcau, has been deemed by the Commission for Traditional Leadership Claims and Disputes not to be the rightful successor to King Mandlonke who died in 1937 without fathering a male heir.  

    Legal counsel to the Royal family are flabbergasted by the finding and the next tier AmaPondo Traditional Leadership and other members of the Royal House are currently mobilizing to challenge to the Commission and President Zuma’s endorsement of its findings.

    Adv Patrick Mtshualana (SC) instructed by Moray Hathorn of Webber Wentzel Attorneys is representing the Royal Family in the matter. Webber Wentzel attorneys have taken on the case on a pro-bono basis because, according to Moray “a gross injustice to my clients appears to have been done, which cannot go unchallenged”. 
    Given that the incumbent Royal house have vigorously opposed Government plans to impose macro development projects on the AmaMpondo, - notably the Xolobeni Mining, N2 Toll Road and Umzimvubu Dam scheme, - the working assumption is that the Commission has been manipulated by influential people with corrupt political and commercial agendas to subvert the only governance institutions that has consistently and courageously stood up for the constitutional rights of the rural amaPondo residents. 

    <b>Proposed curbs on Media:</b>
    Several award winning environmental and business journalists have appealed for support in their struggle to prevent the enacting of proposed Media Tribunal and Protection for Information Bills, advocated by the ANC.    
    Both SWC and the incumbent Royal Family have added their voice to the opposition, because over the ten year struggle, journalists have engaged extensively in the ‘Wild Coast’ debate to highlight contradictions, challenge authoritarian assumptions, help to publicize and uncover coercion,  fraud, power mongering, politicking, incompetence, human rights abuses and abuse of power, give a voice to the poor and disenfranchised, and tell the stories and perspectives of those whose lives will be drastically changed by these Macro Development schemes

    <b>Assessment and analysis:</b>
    With respect to the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road, instead of SANRAL acting as a state owned and democratically accountable referee to ensure the commercial motives of the Private Sector do not dominate over the common good and claimed “national interest”, it assumed the role of ‘scheme developer’ from the Private Sector Wild Coast Consortium after their supposed ‘unsolicited bid’ was found to be fatally flawed because of vested interests.  Assuming scheme developer status on behalf of a private sector consortium seems at complete variance with the terms of reference one would expect from a state owned institution serving as ‘referee’ to ensure both a fair game between competing commercial enterprises, and above all the non exploitation of those whose money and assets would be called upon to sustain the “game”.    Instead, after Bolwheki was ‘red carded’ for foul play, and the WCC faded with embarrassment from the game, Sanral appeared instead as both player and referee.   
    Surely the responsible thing to have done after the possible ‘match fixing’ was revealed was to start the whole game over from scratch with a new set of players.   
    Those who had objected to the first EIA hoped that things would be more transparent the second time round. 

    In fact, as the reality of how rural residents really felt about the N2 Toll road has become more frank, the real interests of SANRAL and their corporate clients became correspondingly opaque.  

    Vast sums of money have been spent on the new EIA, and while one can sympathize with those dedicated professionals who have worked hard to give sound analysis, the parameters within which their work has been framed appears rigged to achieve an outcome predetermined by remote, faceless and exploitative political and economic interests:  interests that will neither serve the AmaMpondo people nor conserve the Wild Coast biodiversity, archeological and cultural heritage.  

    Likewise with respect to the Xolobeni mining venture, the officials from the  Department of Mineral Resources, supposedly the custodian of mineral wealth held on behalf of all citizens and having a primary constitutional responsibility to promote the interests of historically disadvantaged rural residents whose lives and livelihoods will be irreversibly changed by the mining scheme, continue to act with bias toward the interests of foreign mining entrepreneurs and their blatantly corrupt BEE partners. How the DG of Mineral Resources can continue to entertain the idea of upholding the mining rights beggars belief, because there is incontrovertible evidence that massive fraud has been committed.    

    Connecting the above dots, a pattern emerges which ought to alarm all who cherish our constitutional democracy– not only those who cherish the Pondoland Wild Coast.   

    There is no doubt in my mind that the proposed Protection of Information Bill is motivated by fears among some very senior government officials and politicians that blatant conflicts of interests stand to be exposed.   

    Having engaged with all legitimate stakeholders in the course of my social work intervention on the Wild Coast - from Cabinet ministers to illiterate elderly men like Samson Gampe living sustainable livelihoods from subsistence agriculture -  I believe that both the N2 Toll Road and Xolobeni Mining schemes fall far short of what section 24 of the Bill of Rights states as “justifiable social and economic development”.    

    The reticence of state stakeholders to be transparent has left me with no other option but to conclude that the interests which are keeping the mining and toll road schemes alive are much the same as those which fuelled the exploitation and injustice of the colonial and apartheid era’s of our history:  the accumulation of power and wealth from mineral extraction at the expense of vulnerable people and fragile eco-systems. 

    Four years ago after the well known human rights attorney Richard Spoor first met with the Amadiba Community he warned that they could expect two well tried and tested strategies used against those who stand in the way of commercially driven corporate entities out to make quick and lucrative profits:  Cooption and/or Subversion.   

    The Amadiba Community and Royal House have courageously countered the ‘cooption’ tactics by recourse to what Queen Sigcau calls “civil courage” – standing their ground and insisting on their constitutional rights.  

    Things were beginning to look very promising in terms of local people’s concerns being given a hearing.  But the two recent developments – the proposed media curbs and attempt to depose King Mpondombini – leave me personally feeling that if these two long ‘ladders’-  which have been absolutely crucial to our success -  are removed from the board, the Long Walk to Freedom that Nelson Mandela embarked upon seventy years ago will have to start all over again.

    In short, while SWC volunteers have gone to extreme lengths to try to achieve resolution to the issues without resort to judicial remedies in court, it seems extremely likely that this is now inevitable.  But if we compare the situation we faced in December 2004, when the first proposal for the N2 Toll Road was set aside, with the situation we face today, we are much more confident that the courts have even more compelling grounds to firstly revoke the mining rights and secondly to refer the N2 Wild Coast toll Road proposal back to SANRAL. 

    The feeling on the ground is that, masked behind the Xolobeni mining, N2 Wild Coast Toll road and now traditional leadership challenge, are fundamentally corrupt corporate and political interests.  When challenged, in the absence of a constitutionally defensible case, the only advantage that such interests have is deep pockets to fund litigation by attrition.

    <b>Films on You Tube</b>
    For those who have access to a fast broadband internet connection we have put films up on YouTube, on a channel called “Icosindaba”, which SWC member John Clarke has set up.  

    There is a very interesting interview with local Induna from the Sigidi Village Mr Samson Gampe, filmed as evidence to substantiate the objections of the Amadiba Residents to the N2 Toll Road proposal http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXaE0VgTgps

    For the full historical context a three part series called Wild Coast Development, Dreams and Disruptions is also featured, containing footage from 50:50 programs dating as far back as 2003. Seven years of drama has been distilled down to 24 minutes of documentary narrative. 

    - Part 1.  Wild Coast Development:  Dreams (5 minutes) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVfsvyMszLA
    - Part 2:  Disruptions:  Toll Road or ‘Troll’ Road.  (10 minutes) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DalsHKXCTEs
    - Part 3.  Disruptions: Avatar Again! (10 minutes)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TjJelYvwxE

    Claire Johnston (of Mango Groove fame) and Jeff Maluleke gave permission for us to use tracks from their album Starehe: An African Day, which they recorded to support environmental initiatives. Cartoonist Andy Mason likewise contributed his professional talent in a cartoon strip.

    Volunteer on the Wild Coast

    • Posted on: 27 August 2010
    • By: JB

    We are appealing to enthusiastic volunteers to assist rural schools and promote literacy, computer skills, extramural activities, arts and sports development.

    Experience the magic of Africa and play a vital role in education and bridging the digital divide, while exploring and integrating with the ancient local customs and culture of the Xhosa people.

    The Mentoring Volunteer Project is based on the Wild Coast, and works with junior secondary schools located in and around Hole in the Wall and nearby Coffee Bay.

    Please see: Mentor-ring Volunteer Project for more info.

    You may also be interested in these other Wild Coast Volunteer projects:

    Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve

    Tucked along South Africa's breathtaking Wild Coast, Inkwenkwezi is a world-class big five game reserve with an emphasis on luxury and thoughtful details. Inkwenkwezi's prime location in the malaria-free Eastern Cape of South Africa offers many unique opportunities, as it encompasses five different regional ecosystems (biomes) and a tidal estuary. This rich diversity of landscape offers unparalleled wildlife viewing. The reserve is just five minutes from magnificent beaches and a short, convenient drive from the East London airport Inkwenkwezi offers spacious and well-appointed luxury tented accommodation to guests in our Valley and Bush Camps; nestled in intimate, leafy settings on the incomparable Wild Coast. Snuggle down into an easy chair to watch the wildlife from the comfortable perch of your own timber viewing deck at Inkwenkwezi Private game Reserve. ACTIVITIES:

    Petition submission

    "The only real and sustainable industry that can uplift and feed the communities in the areas of Pondoland and Transkei, is Tourism. All the natural assets are there to be managed correctly. The surest and quickest way to destroy a world renowned wilderness area is to cut a highway through its heart." -Fred Orban For those interested, the attached N2_petition-email.pdf was submitted and officially accepted by the department yesterday. (This "public" version attached herewith has had the email addresses stripped out for obvious reasons.) As at 19 May 2010 - 9:00AM - 1711 people had signed the Petition at www.wildcoast.co.za/ict4d/petition.

    Our Shoreline DVD box set

    Click here for more information, or to purchase from: Impact Video. (Price R279) Winner of two SAFTA Awards:
  • Best Factual Educational Entertainment
  • Best Cinematographer Shoreline explores the nearly 3000 kilometers of the South African coastline - stretching from the desert border with Namibia on the Atlantic coast southwards around the tip of Africa and then north to the border with subtropical Mozambique on the Indian Ocean.
  • Villi Meri

    From: Africa Calling Several times during the course of my wanderings in Oulu I saw beautiful posters of dolphins. They said Villi Meri…couldn’t figure out if it was one of those aquariums like Deep Sea World in Edinburgh or was it a movie. Google and Google translator to the rescue – Villi Meri means Wild Ocean. It was a film being screened at Tietomaa Science Center in Oulu, with special screenings in English on request! Tag line for the movie – Africa meets the Sea. Africa...has been on my wish list for as long as I can remember. Even as a young girl in school I remember seeing photographs of my cousins who had visited Mombasa in East Africa, and thinking …gosh I do so want to be there too!!!! The centre boasts of a magnificent super screen theatre. Believe you me, it not one of those kahli peeli boasts. The screen was super-duper. The movie overall was a documentary to raise awareness of the effects of pirate fishing and global warming on the marine life. It lays stress on the fact that only 1/100th part of a percent of the seas is protected and the need for marine reserves. But it was based around a place called the Wild Coast on the coast of South Africa, where shoals of sardines head towards the coast in June/July every year. They are followed by all kinds of predators – various species of Dolphins, Sharks, Whales, Seals and Gannets. The Gannets can plunge midflight to depths as deep as 10 mts to catch the fish!

    Warning: Permits required for Wild Coast

    This is important information if you are planning on going on holiday, day trip or fishing along the Transkei Wild Coast:

    You will need a permit to travel to cottages that are not on proclaimed or designated roads. (E.g. the road to the Jacaranda.) If you do not have a permit for these routes you may be charged by the Green Scorpions and given a spot fine of R2500.

    If you are a cottage owner and your cottage is not on a proclaimed road you will need to present your PTO (Permission To Occupy) at the Environmental office and acquire a permit to travel on the track to your cottage.

    No permits will be awarded to anyone without a valid PTO.

    Cottage owner permits are valid for one year.

    If you are traveling to a cottage that is not on a proclaimed road you will need a letter from the PTO holder which you can present at the offices to acquire a temporary permit.

    There is no charge for the permit.

    The permit is valid for one month.

    Active Escapes - Hiking & Biking Adventures on the Wild Coast

    Active Escapes offer unique mountain bike and guided hiking trail tours along the Wild Coast.popup For more information about cycling or hiking the Wild Coast, please see www.wildcoast.com/active-escapes or check their website. Contact: Sarah Drew (Active Escapes) Tel: 084 2407277 or 033 2344367 Email: sarah@active-escapes.co.za Website: www.active-escapes.co.za

    MRP Highlights

    • Posted on: 19 November 2009
    • By: MRP

    For the past 3 years DEAT SRPP (Social Responsibility, Policy & Projects) has funded the Mussel Rehabilitation Project (MRP) which has been implemented by Walter Sisulu University along the Wild Coast between Umtata Mouth and Hole in the Wall. Download the video: Mussel Harvest The initiative has, without a doubt, been one of the most successful and effective social responsibility projects in the Eastern Cape. It has not only proven that rehabilitation and controlled harvesting of mussel beds is sustainable, but has literally produced tons of protein rich mussels for the benefit of the local community, while also contributing employment, skills training, environmental awareness, resource monitoring, catch-data collation, and many other vital linkages and benefits. Operating since 2000 under the care and guidance of Zoology lecturer, Dr. Calvo-Ugarteburu (affectionately known by all as “Gugu”), the Mussel Rehabilitation & Food Production Project has been funded variously by Marine & Coastal Management (MCM), WWF, and DEAT SRPP. To provide sustainable food security, the project has also created a vegetable seedling nursery,KSD Municipality L.E.D. councilor visiting on Open Day 9 community gardens, and a home gardening programme which conducted training workshops and provided vegetable seedlings and fruit trees for a thousand households in the area. Over the years extensive Household Livelihood Security Assessments (HLSA) have been conducted by WSU throughout the 15 marginalized villages along this rugged 20km stretch of coastline (one of the poorest and most disenfranchised regions of South Africa), support relationships have been forged with government departments and municipal LED (Local Economic Development) departments; and vital linkages between the community and relevant NGOs, including WWF, Masifundise & WESSA have been created. Gugu has been a relentless campaigner for subsistence fishers’ rights and legislative reform, and the community members who have contributed to the rehabilitated sites have, through her efforts, been issued with exemption permits which allow them to legally harvest up to 5 liters of mussels per day, instead of the impractical and unrealistic bag-limit of 30 mussels per subsistence or recreational permit holder. (Imagine feeding your entire family, which depends on them as a primary protein source, on only 30 mussels.) The issuing of permits was accompanied by a mandatory workshop on sustainable harvesting techniques. The Mussel Rehabilitation Project provides food security and essential socio-economic development, while ensuring sustainable use through ongoing monitoring and management of the natural resources. It can clearly be seen, in fact, to be nurturing the natural environment for the benefit of everyone. Furthermore, MRP and the local management committee (comprised of representatives from each village who have freely contributed their time and energy over many years) play an invaluable role between government and the community vis-à-vis subsistence level coastal livelihoods; and lobby for vital changes to impractical or discriminatory sections of the Marine Living Resources Act of 1998 (MLRA). In May 2008 the project celebrated its first official harvest at the successfully rehabilitated Nqutheni site illegally, as the exemption permit had not been processed in time. Despite the lacking formality, the harvest went ahead with the tacit blessings of MCM, and was attended by officials from several sectors of government who all enjoyed a great mussel meal, provided by the 60 or so harvesters, afterwards. tons of beautiful musselsproud field manager the largest employer in the area Community members are employed as:
  • environmental trainers to teach harvesters how to rehabilitate mussel beds and the principles of sustainable utilization,
  • drillers who facilitate the rehabilitation process (the technique was pioneered by Professor Arthur Dye and some of his students in the 1990's),
  • and monitors who record information on ALL subsistence fishery activities in the area. The catch data is recorded into a database and used for long term sustainability research, and also for the local management committee to lobby for TURF (Territorial Use Rights in Fisheries) quotas and provide the basis for co-management as set forth in the MLRA. . . .. . .
    Other community members have been trained in agricultural practices and are employed by the Project as:
  • agricultural trainers who deliver fruit trees and seedlings to the household gardens and conduct training workshops,
  • agricultural monitors who inspect the household gardens periodically and provide further assistance and intervention where necessary;
  • and some received further seedling nurturing and small business operations training, including introductory computer courses, to manage the nursery as an independent business.

  • The participants built the nursery and office themselvesNursery staff preparing 50,000 cabbage seedlings

    ? Garden Competition: To incentivize local gardeners and promote the nursery, a home vegetable garden competition was held in 2009. Over 130 entries were received and individually judged. Representatives from the Department of Agriculture (Mqanduli) selected and judged the top 10 gardens.Judging the top 10Receiving R1,000 from Gugu 1'st Place won R1,000 2'nd won R750 3'rd won R500 7 Runners up each received R250 20 more each received R100

    Community Gardens: Many others benefit from communal gardens which have been established with efficient drip-irrigation and foot-treadle pump systems.