KZN Wildlife not yet out of the thicket despite new board
It’s a step in the right direction, but without a permanent CEO, there could still be troubling times ahead
A new board of directors has been to appointed to lead the KwaZulu-Natal nature conservation agency, restoring a measure of stability to the organisation following another recent spell of leadership turmoil and uncertainty.
The new 12-member Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife board, announced officially on July 12, has a tenure of three years – unlike the previous temporary board that was appointed for a single-year term amid concerns about the level of management experience of at least two board members.
For the first time in recent decades, the new board will be chaired by an official with skills and experience in environmental conservation matters: Dr William Mngoma, a former general manager of the provincial department of environmental affairs.Mngoma worked for the department for nearly 20 years and has a doctorate in philosophy and a masters in environmental education and geography. He has also chaired the KZN Coastal Committee, which advised provincial government on issues that could have adverse impacts on the marine and coastal environment.
Of the 12 new board members, seven are new appointments: Mngoma, Iain Ewing, Rob Haswell, Diana Hoorzuk, Sinegugu Ncube, Sihle Ndlovu and Thandeka Ntshangase.
Ewing is a financial planner and director of the Ewing Trust Company in Hillcrest. Haswell is a former Democratic Party councillor who joined the ANC and later became municipal manager of the Pietermaritzburtg-based Msunduzi Municipality.
Hoorzuk was a former New National Party councillor for the eThekwini Municipality before joining the ANC. She has also served as a member of the Mangosuthu University of Technology council and has been active in Aids healthcare awareness.
Ndlovu is a businessman and farmer who has served as a director of the Ilembe Enterprise Development Agency and board member of the KZN Agricultural Union and has a doctorate in business administration.
Ncube is listed as a chief financial officer with experience in municipal management, with a B.Com Honours degree in management accounting.
Thandeka Ntshangase studied economics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and is now studying for a masters degree in business administration.The remaining five members – Pat Seeng Lebenya, Inkosi Bonginkosi Mthembu, Sipho Mtolo, Vusi Mvelase and Thlulisa Ndlela – have been reappointed after serving on the previous temporary board last year.
However, Ezemvelo remains without a permanent chief executive following the resignation of Dr David Mbunda last July. His departure followed reports of clashes with certain board members.Mabunda denied this was the case during his farewell speech and described his departure as “amicable”. But KZN environment MEC Sihle Zikalala refused to accept his resignation.
Mabunda then returned to his office for about three months before he finally walked away permanently in September.
Bheki Khoza took over as acting chief executive, but he retired last month. Sthabiso Chiliza is now acting as chief executive.
According to provincial environment department spokesperson Bongani Tembe, Zikalala has begun the process of appointing a new chief executive.
Meanwhile, plans appear to remain on track to amalgamate the KZN Sharks Board with Ezemvelo as part of a cost-saving rationalisation project of provincial public enterprises.
Tembe said the function of protecting bathers against shark attacks would be incorporated into Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s responsibilities, while certain maritime training functions would move to the Moses Kotane Institute.
The move to compel Ezemvelo to take over the killing of sharks with gill nets and baited drum lines at tourist beaches has been criticised by several observers, given that Ezemvelo’s primary mandate is promote nature conservation and protect biodiversity.