Another fire underlines problems at Kruger National Park – James Lorimer

DA MP says park CEO is dodging giving answers about what is going on

Another fire underlines problems at Kruger National Park

14 September 2020

Note to Editors: The statement that was distributed earlier contained an error in the headline, this is the corrected version

Another shop has caught fire in the Kruger National Park. The fire at Berg-en-Dal camp follows five days after a fire that destroyed the shop at Letaba. The cause of the fires is undetermined.

These fires comes in light of the Kruger Park CEO, Fundisile Mketeni dodging giving answers about what’s going on with the Park’s accommodation crisis. At a meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Environment, Forestry and Fisheries on 2 September, I asked Mketeni to provide details of how much of the Kruger Park’s guest accommodation was not usable, and what the reasons were for it not to be available. Although I asked for those answers within 24 hours, Mketeni was protected by ANC Committee Chairperson Fikile Xasa, who allowed 7 days for written answers to these questions to be delivered. That deadline has come and gone, and if Mketeni has delivered his report, it has not been passed on to MPs.

I wrote to Xasa on 1 September to request a special meeting of the Portfolio Committee to drill down into these and other questions about the state of Kruger National Park. To date I have not had a reply.

This strengthens the perception that there are major problems at the Park, which are being deliberately hidden by Park management and the ANC. This perception is fed by large numbers of complaints by members of the public who have visited the park and by the extreme hostility with which SANParks has treated criticism on social media. Meanwhile a trade union has made allegations of wide-scale corruption and nepotism in Park management.

The Kruger Park’s financial losses due to the lockdown have had to be covered by a grant from the government, that is why it is vital that accommodation is available so as to generate income. The unavailability in accommodation has already interfered with the resumption of domestic tourism. The fires will make this worse.

Minister Barbara Creecy and SANParks owe us an explanation.

Issued by James Lorimer, DA Shadow Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, 14 September 2020