Would you pay R30,000 for this view?
There's been this moratorium on any and all developments along the Wild Coast for the past 13 years - apart from Incopho and their American cohort's proposed Resorts on huge chunks of land appropriated - under false, or entirely misleading pretexts - from the Hole in the Wall, Coffee Bay, and Mdumbi communities. A brief glance at their websites reveals Pure Africa LLC (www.pureafrica.org) and their so called "Partner company" Earth Conservancy (www.theearthconservancy.org) for what they truly are: my emphases placed on Resorts and Partner is to underscore the over imaginative products of an opportunistic NY tax lawyer. The same tax lawyer who is in fact president and founder of both the so called Partner companies. There was a third Partner company by the name of African Conservancy (which had an equally imaginative and factually devoid website - and the same President, funnily enough) which was mentioned on the billboard (photo attached) - but which no longer appears to exist. Presumably this has something to do with a legitimate US based charity organization of the same name objecting to its use.
It seems unlikely in the extreme that giving any significant ownership to a locally fronted operation for 2 US registered Non Profit Organizations which in turn are controlled by a Limited Liability Company - all of which share the same founder and President: a New York tax lawyer by the name of Brian Dinning; and no other obviously credible partners or believable track record - could be in any way in the best interests of the local communities. On their websites, for example, they say that in return (for their land) the local communities will benefit by receiving "jobs, skills training, microenterprise experience, healthcare and education. Finally the community receives a significant share of the profit."
Earth Conservancy NPO owns the land and Pure Africa LLC manages the issue of profits. Very simple and very open to abuse.
Say there's no profit from the Resorts, then so what? our outside wunderkinds still own 70% or so of priceless tracts of Wild Coast soil for which they payed the owners next to nothing. The twisted irony is that in a short time the community will itself be able to manage their own resources so much better than by giving away their only asset - land - to outside interests in exchange for jobs. Judge by the ludicrous fabrications on their websites.
It even appears, from a cursory glance through the R.O.D., that there are no limitations on their divesting themselves of the assets. What their real intentions are is the million dollar question, as the websites are factually deranged to a ludicrous extent.
It should be well noted by now that the actual local villagers at Hole in the Wall - who comprise of the people who own the land in question (not the faction who support the woman "headman", who are almost exclusively from Inzulwini about 4km inland) have been totally against the development from the time that the developers placed their signboard on a hill overlooking the Hole sometime over a year ago without asking the rightful owner's permission.
Further, the whole proposal has been done under the pretence of the benefit to the local community, but the Incopho / Kwa Tshezi community is an aggregated 4 districts extending from Hole in the Wall to Mdumbi - and of the people that have benefited from the employment created so far (guarding the fenced tract of land at the Hole, mainly) - not one person is actually from the village from whom the land has been expropriated. In fact, Nowinas' people, in police blue security uniforms and caps, lounge around near the signboard on the hill. On questioning, they all come from Nowinas, and allegedly have no other duties than to guard the expropriated and fenced-off land. No, they will not guard or protect the rest of the area.
It is rumored that the owners have been offered R30,000 per hut that is located on the site of the expropriated land at the Hole. Over and above that, a rental of R7,000 per month had been unilaterally agreed by the principal players through the Kwa-Tshezi Development trust for these 15 or so acres of prime real estate (50,000 acres if pureafrica.org's website is to be believed) - but that rental goes to the Kwa Tshezi Development Trust as a whole, and very little benefit - apart from jobs someday, perhaps, and platitudes about healthcare and education - to the people who once legally owned the land. Platitudes they are, as the schools in the area already have beautiful Open Source, NetDay (www.netday.org.za) sponsored computer classrooms and internet connections - and there are adequate clinics in the area, and a full hospital no more than a few kilometers away.
Why should the people who were born here have to give up their legacy for promises and platitudes? when within a generation or less they can develop the capacity (or hire it for that matter) - through education and eco-tourism - to manage their own land far better than outside ventures. The feeling of the community is that they are being treated like ignorant Xabas . . .
It is strangely ironic that not so long ago and just 20km down South from the Hole the local community (who had many years ago been forced to give up their land for the Dwesa / Cwebe nature reserves) made landmark claims when they took repossession of their land rights; yet here the government and bureaucratic processes are depriving people of theirs.