Clive Ndou
Politics editor
3 minute read
6 Aug 2021
06:11

‘Managers to blame’ for Ezemvelo’s ongoing problems

Clive Ndou

Despite officials at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife trying to play the blame game, the entity’s boss has attributed its problems to poor management.

Despite officials at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife trying to play the blame game, the entity’s boss has attributed its problems to poor management.

Ezemvelo, which falls under the KZN provincial government, is currently facing a number of challenges, ranging from crumbling infrastructure to a shortage of funds.

“It’s not useful when we have to defend our underperformance and find some other excuse such as Covid-19, vacancies and the lack of budget.”
Ezemvelo administrator, Simiso Magagula.

During Ezemvelo’s presentation to the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature’s finance portfolio committee on Thursday, the officials told MPLs that Covid-19, a lack of government funding and protests were mainly to blame for the problems at Ezemvelo.

However, briefing the same committee, Ezemvelo administrator, Simiso Magagula, said while these had an impact on Ezemvelo, they should not be used to cover the poor performance by Ezemvelo management.

“Since I have been in the organisation I have noticed a few disturbing behaviours that are present in the institution.

“The first one is really the lacklustre attitude when it comes to work for some of the officials in the organisation — that attitude of just being okay, ngiyavuka (I wake up) I go to work and I come back home, and that’s about it.

“It’s not useful when we have to defend our underperformance and find some other excuse such as Covid-19, vacancies and the lack of budget.

“It seems that commercialisation should actually be changed to privatisation because this is a good example of a state entity which does not work. So, the only way to fix is to privatise.”
IFP MPL and member of the committee, Lourens De Klerk.

“Surely, everyone in government and the private sector suffers the same fate but, with the little that we have, we should be able to turn some of the things around,” he said.

The poor management, Magagula said, was highlighted by the appointment of people in positions in which they were not suited, failure to keep proper records and the weak internal controls. “We have to run Ezemvelo like a business,” he said.

Despite previous turnaround plans, Ezemvelo, which over the years has been losing customers due to, among other things — pooly maintained lodges, crumbling infrastructure and poor security — continued to stumble from one crisis to the other.

While there have been plans to bring in private companies to help in managing Ezemvelo’s facilities through the entity’s commercialisation programme, the initiative is yet to take off, with the Ezemvelo officials telling the committee that the commercialisation strategy “was still being developed”.

“No one wants to identify what the real problems are. If we don’t deal with the legacy problems at Ezemvelo, then we will end up dealing with symptoms.”
DA provincial leader and member of the committee, Francois Rodgers.

However, IFP MPL and member of the committee, Lourens De Klerk, who previously supported Ezemvelo’s commercialisation plan, urged the entity to dump the initiative.

“Its been many years that there has been instability, inefficiency and ineffectiveness at Ezemvelo. Mr Magagula has just confirmed that it’s continuing. It seems that commercialisation should actually be changed to privatisation because this is a good example of a state entity which does not work. So, the only way to fix is to privatise,” he said.

DA provincial leader and member of the committee, Francois Rodgers, said any plans which did not address Ezemvelo’s underlying problems would not work.

“Nothing has changed in eight years, there is not even a green shoot.

“No one wants to identify what the real problems are. If we don’t deal with the legacy problems at Ezemvelo, then we will end up dealing with symptoms,” Rodgers said.