As AIA members will be aware, we have made demands from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) and the MEC for Agriculture and Environmental Affairs on key areas of concern.
These in summary relate to our actions, what we seek to achieve and the outcome we seek:
We question the legal powers of EKZNW to determine policy or even “norms and standards” in respect of permits that are governed under separate legislation.
The AIA has concerns that the processes engaged upon by EKZNW did not have proper approval of the EKZNW Board and did not have applicable financial approval for the expense incurred in what has essentially been a wasteful process.
There has been no appropriate direction of the process required for a recommendation by the EKZNW Board to the MEC on policy and this indicates an abrogation of the duties of the Board in matters that cannot be delegated to officials, who in the present case, have been masters of a process to which they are legally subservient.
AIA is particularly concerned that Dr Jean Harris and her team spearheading the process, are on a mission of their own that exceeds both the mandate and mission of EKZNW,
Many believe they are using this platform to further their own personal agendas. The financial implications of this are of concern to AIA.
This indicates a lack of corporate governance in the EKZNW Board and a lack of proper financial controls.
It is now public knowledge that the financial powers of the EKZNW Board have been suspended by the MEC for what appear in the public domain to be serious abuse of public funds by officials and possibly the Board.
The AIA made a formal demand of the MEC and EKZNW under the Promotion of Access to Information Act for all relevant details but this process was subverted, firstly by a withdrawal by EKZNW of the “policy process” and by the MEC who simply did not respond.
The AIA questioned the wisdom of expending the limited financial resources of EKZNW on illegitimate processes that seemed intended to undermine the implementation of the nationally proclaimed Threatened and Protected Species (TOPS) Regulations by which EKZNW is bound itself, and in terms of which it has the statutory mandate to implement.
In parallel, AIA complained to the national Minster of Environmental Affairs and Tourism that he had passed on an “unfunded mandate” to EKZNW who clearly have neither the desire nor the resources to discharge. No response other than an acknowledgement of receipt of the correspondence, in one instance one year after receipt, has been received.
Recent demands of the MEC have simply been referred to the CEO of EKZNW Khulani Mkhize from whom there has been no response. In the light of the appointment of an acting CEO following the suspension of Mkihze on unrelated matters, it is unlikely that the demands of AIA will receive the response it deserves.
Unfortunately, AIA has no choice now but to approach the Court to ask for the financial information that EKZNW refuse to give us.
It is regrettable that the actions of AIA may be perceived as capitalising on the recent disastrous events in the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs (forensic audits and the suspension of heads of department and now the CEO of EKZNW), but the record will show that all of the actions taken by AIA pre-date current events.
AIA has no axe to grind but is merely acting in the interests of its members who are directly affected by these unfortunate events.
On its formation, the AIA resolved to take up all issues related to animals on behalf of its members and in the public interest as its founding Trust Deed will evidence.
The AIA community extends beyond its members to many that are reliant on the keeping of animals, those that are employed, those that have the pleasure of pets, game farmers, animal welfare concerns, scientific researchers, animal surgery and animal husbandry generally.
AIA membership includes an eminent scientist whose passion includes the saving of (sometimes obscure) reptiles that would probably die unnoticed and be lost to biodiversity but for his specialist surgery and care beyond the call of most human medical practitioners.
AIA members care for and manage animals that provide educational services to the next generation.
Film and entertainment industries, bringing millions of dollars of foreign revenue into our country have come out in strong support of the AIA.
The AIA membership has representatives from these important economic sectors that include experienced, dedicated & passionate animal trainers and film makers, whose very occupations depend on these industries and who care for and manage the many animals that delight in film or in advertisements on television.
The AIA membership includes raptor specialists who rescue, rehabilitate and release birds of prey back into the wild and who promote educational public awareness in many of these instances.
Exotic and indigenous bird breeders are rightfully very concerned and many have joined the AIA and support our cause.
Regular updates in the Avizandum have encouraged support from aviculturists all over the country.
The keeping and commercial sale of birds and reptiles is under direct threat from EZKNW ex situ wild animal draft policies and once again the livelihood of such people and their dependants is being threatened.
Many of these commercially traded species are threatened or endangered in their native habitats and these captive populations may be critically important genetic reservoirs in years to come if wild populations are wiped out.
EKZNW believe that “all wild animals should be in the wild and not in captivity” may be admirable in a perfect World, but is a totally unrealistic standpoint when wild habitats and entire ecosystems are being mismanaged and destroyed at a rate faster than they can ever be preserved.
All monies derived from annual memberships and donations to the AIA cause are used to pay our legal fees. When one battle is won, there is sure to be another one around the corner and the AIA believe they have an important role to play in this country protecting and defending the inherent rights of all bona fide animal keepers.
The AIA mission statement:
"The objective of the AIA TRUST shall be to promote the welfare of animals, to strengthen the human-animal bond, to preserve genetic diversity, to ensure that the use of renewable resources is sustainable and to safeguard the rights and interests of responsible animal owners and professionals through research, public education and the development of sound public policy”
The AIA values your opinion and comments and above all, depends on your financial support.
Please email any such to firstname.lastname@example.org or renew your membership via the website www.aiatrust.co.za