The provincial legislature’s portfolio committee on rural, environmental and agricultural development has said it wants answers on how politically connected individuals benefit from wildlife donations.
The committee, chaired by Gordon Kegakilwe, met rural environmental and agricultural development MEC Manketsi Tlhape and senior department officials over the matter on Friday.
The department was given three working days to compile a detailed report on how wildlife donations for a 10-year breeding programme were allegedly awarded to private entities.
The meeting came as a result of several media reports that claimed that individuals who had friends in high political office had received donations of rare breeds of wildlife at their private farms.
Kegakilwe said that in the interest of transparency, the department was supposed to present a comprehensive report on the project, a list of beneficiaries and assets transferred to the emerging game farmers, as well as the criteria used to select beneficiaries for the project.
“Our responsibility to ensure accountability and transparency is to conduct proper oversight and research in the manner this initiative is benefitting the historically disadvantaged communities apart from all things. The communities affected by the public purse matter the most,” he said.
Kegakilwe said that while the committee was in support of transformation and economic empowerment to previously disadvantaged communities, such efforts needed to be done in a transparent manner.
“We fully support this endeavour towards transformation but urge the department to conduct processes in a manner that is transparent, free from corruption and that will benefit the economy of the province and fully promotes the interests of the people of South Africa,”he said.
In her submission before the committee, Tlhape said the 10-year wildlife breeding programme was part of an initiative towards transformation meant to empower black people interested in game farming, an industry that has been predominantly a preserve for white farmers.
“The North West Parks and Tourism Board developed a policy on the donation of game from nature reserves since 1997,” she said. “It has always been a norm for it to donate wildlife even outside the borders of the state.”
Tlhape said the public was aware of platforms that the government used to advertise and publicise offers, especially to marginalised parties.
Among other issues raised, the committee requested that the department give an account of the number of employees working on private game farms, the percentage of all worker beneficiaries, the platforms used to publicise the game breeding initiative, the dates and applications of emerging farmers, the register of all wildlife under the parks board, the policy and strategy on game farming and the contract agreement.
The department also had to provide the list of beneficiaries and the profile of the South African Rare Game Breeding Association.
Former members of the Parks Board are expected to be part of the next meeting.