The local community has been complaining over the years that they have gained almost no economic opportunities from this tourist haven. Picture: SUPPLIED
The local community has been complaining over the years that they have gained almost no economic opportunities from this tourist haven. Picture: SUPPLIED

Scores of angry Kwangwanase community members in KwaZulu-Natal marched to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority on Wednesday, demanding rights to mine dunes and calling for a bigger pie of the proceeds from the park.

The park is home to Africa’s largest estuarine system and attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world.

It is SA’s third-largest protected area, spanning 280km of coastline from the Mozambican border in the north to Mapelane south of the Lake St Lucia estuary, and is made up of about 3,280km² of natural ecosystems. In December 1999 the park was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The local community has been complaining over the years that they have gained almost no economic opportunities from this tourist haven.

The protesters who marched to the park’s headquarters demanded to see iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority CEO Anis Karodia and other officials.

Broken promises

Zamo Mthethwa, one of the protest leaders, said years of promises that the park would yield economic benefits for the locals had come to nothing.

He said the community was demanding to be allowed mining and fishing rights in the park. The community had established Amakhosi Resources to conduct mining, but when they negotiated with iSimangaliso to grant concessions at least on the fringes of the park, the park officials opposed this.

"The park is visited by thousands of tourists but we, as the local community, are not getting anything out of it," he said.

"Amakhosi Resources was established as our last hope so that we can get something out of our land. But we have been sent from pillar to post.

"They said iSimangaliso is not even administered in the province, it is administered by the national government."

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