By Allen Tshautshau
Since 1994, our democratic government has put local economic transformation programmes in place. Of these, perhaps the most radical one was the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), which identified Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) as a crucial tool for sustainable green economy. However, it must also be mentioned with approval that the RDP placed it’s priorities on education, democracy and governance, agriculture, business development, health, and housing as key areas that offers economic opportunities to the broader society, which really does make sense given the socioeconomic gap that existed at the time. Based on this, it is quite evident that the potential of green economy as a provider of sustainable jobs was downplayed. Furthermore, the issue of green economy was again particularly surpassed by the introduction of the Growth, Employment, and Redistribution programme (GEAR), which prefers export production, and the use of the private businesses to grow the economy and attract investors. I honestly understand the aims and objectives of the above mentioned socioeconomic transformation initiative, which is to create jobs, and accelerate economic growth, but would like to point out the apparent need to create more jobs in the poor South African communities particularly those with natural resources that can be transformed into monetary value through tourism, and other related services. This will certainly help solve the already existing challenges in CBNRM such as the lack of donor funding to unlock new opportunities, and to sustain the existing ones.
Be that as it may, CBNRM in South Africa has stood the test time despite the above adversities. The Makuleke Community, who are the rightful owners of a portion of the Kruger National Park that is crucial for the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP), is our proud example. However, it is quit disturbing to note that the community is not being taken seriously as a managerial partner of the GLTP, the lack of their full representation on the Joint Management Board of the Africa Transfrontier Conservation Areas is a concrete evidence for this. This negligence by the authorities could lead to complexities in as far as the management of the GLTP is concerned. For an example, the Makuleke Community may opt to withdraw their land from being part of the GLTP. Given the number of land claims that has been successful elsewhere in South Africa, if similar cases arise they may advocate complex challenges particularly at the national authority-community level of interaction. It’s obvious that there is still much to be desired in the existing policies frameworks that are aimed at engaging communities to capitalize on the economic opportunities that CBNRM has to offer.
Consequently, the South African government is in the midst of rolling out economic policies frameworks such as the Green Economy Accord 2011, which gives emphasis on local economic development through the use of renewable resources to create jobs and sustainable businesses. It is therefore important for the national authorities to relook at the successes and failures of the already existing CBNRM initiatives in South Africa, as this will be very crucial in coming up with the best ways possible to implement the Green Economy Accord’s programmes.
- Allen Tshautshau is an Environmental Control Officer and South African National Antarctic Programme’s Deputy Team Leader at Marion Island.
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