MEC Mabuyakhulu accused of ‘complete lack of respect to AmaZizi’

2013-12-13 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Tourism and Development (DEDT), has been accused of exhibiting a “complete lack of respect to the royal family of the AmaZizi” by a family member.

This follows a public meeting held by the DEDT on November 23 to consult with local communities affected by the proposed R500 million Drakensberg cableway project. The AmaZizi, who live in the Busingatha valley section of the Mnweni area of the Drakensberg, are directly affected by the cableway.

According to a DEDT statement, the meeting, held at Busingatha, was attended by more than 10 000 people who “overwhelmingly endorsed the project”. However, the AmaZizi were not present as they were in mourning for their inkosi, Mthethi Miya, who died on August 7, as well as his brother, S.W. Miya, who died on November 16.

According to traditional protocols, during a time of mourning for an inkosi, the community, especially immediate family, do not engage in social activities, which would include attending a meeting such as that held on November 23. Consequently, the meeting was seen as disrespectful and took place without the participation of key community members.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Sigungu Miya, brother of inkosi Miya, accused MEC Michael Mabuyakhulu of displaying a “complete lack of respect” during a time of mourning.

“Without any consultation with us, the [MEC’s] office put up their big tents at Busingatha … the day before the burial of the late Inkosi’s brother … who was to be buried on 24 November. On 23 November while we, as the family, were preparing for the funeral of our Inkosi’s brother and were bringing his body from the mortuary, there were loudspeakers [heard by] a mourning tribe.”

Miya says the AmaZizi community are opposed to the cableway.

He added that “contrary to the claims of some people” Inkosi Miya never agreed to have the cableway in the area. “That is why he authorised the Amazizi Wilderness Group, to work with other community environmental working teams to promote a community wilderness area and work on wilderness management activities for the existing environment.”

Miya said the AmaZizi wanted the area proclaimed “a community nature reserve and wilderness area”. This is something the Mnweni Wilderness Working Team and the AmaZizi Wilderness Group have been working towards with assistance from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

The Drakensberg cableway project was officially launched with the release of a draft feasibility study in July. Mount Amery was identified as the summit terminus for the proposed cableway with the base station located near Woodstock Dam.

Mabuyakhulu described the project as “a game changer” that would change the “tourism landscape not only for KwaZulu-Natal, but for our neighbours in the Free State and Lesotho.”

The release of the study, undertaken by Graham Muller and Associates, marked the beginning of a four-month consultation process with stakeholders, including the local community. Parallel to this process, a business plan has been drawn up. Thereafter, if financial backing is forthcoming, a full environmental impact assessment (EIA) will be undertaken.

The DEDT were informed of Miya’s statement and sent a list of questions regarding its contents. No response had been received at the time of going to press.

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