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Fishing Owl's Newsletter

Hi Nico,
I enjoyed reading your comments regarding my ‘bitchy” newsletter.
I am fully aware that there are still a few people in Government that care. Unfortunately because of the “job reservation policy” copied from the previous Government which has led to a situation where we have all this lovely legislation but unfortunately very few people to implement it are left. I am sure that your main speaker Dr Anthony Turton will give a very insightful perspective on the social aspects regarding the importance of clean rivers provided he is not subject to censorship as in the past.
I fully believe in consultation but have come to the conclusion that the Government only reacts to confrontation.
By the way the website is done as a “labour of love because “I believe the bottom line of conservation is pragmatic education.

Kind Regards,
Trevor Babich,
Many thanks for you invitation but unfortunately I will not be in Gauteng.
Please send me a copy of what you suggested that I read at the bottom of your e-mail. It has not come up on my computer.
I have added it
- Site Mediator

Date: 19 March 2009 3:53:38 PM
To: "TNS" <>

Hi Trevor,
I enjoyed reading your “bitchy” newsletter and share some of the criticism against government but urge you to see everything within context.
What do I mean with “context”?  All the incompetence that you have listed is quite normal for a country that has just gone through a revolution without a full scale war and the “unfair” transfer of power from an empowered minority to the previously disadvantaged majority was a necessary thing to happen and both you and I have tolerated that.  Tolerance has limits you would say.  I agree. 
Even the previously disadvantaged went through a learning phase during the past 15 years, which is still a very short time for a country to go through given the scale of what must be achieved.  These mistakes are now admitted by government (it is only human not to hang it all out in the open), and the mitigation measures are being implemented.  Not fast enough though. There is recovery and rehabilitation but because it is so political, the progress is slow.
Remember for the sake of “context”, that when you criticize this government, ask yourself what do you really know of the well recorded incompetence during the past ten years of documented events in the most advanced nations of the world like China and the United States?  I don’t have time or space to list them all but these two countries exceeded the degree of environmental mismanagement in South Africa by far.  Just one thing as an example, the US is loosing its wetlands at a rate of about 170 000 ha per year.  Just go and read the latest National Geographic magazine and view the display of destruction of natural landscapes in the northern hemisphere because of mining.  With what are we comparing ourselves when you want to refer to “incompetence”?  What does it mean when you have a clever advanced nation like the US but houses get taken back at a rate of 12 000 per month and retrenchments are close to 15 000 per month?
It helps very little to blame the government for everything, especially if you as a taxpayer takes very little responsibility yourself.  It has become so bad that people don’t even want to take responsibility for their kids drowning in swimming pools and expects government to regulate swimming pools now! Imagine having to apply for a permit to have a pool and then to have pool-inspectors to check if you have covered your pool with a net!  This attitude is very evident even on game farms with serious mismanagement issues regarding overgrazing.  There is still no stigma attached to have or sell a farm with evident signs of mismanagement (I’m referring to very educated people here).  The market value is the main concern, not the management competency.
The global problem is “people management”.  The problem is you and me, all of us.  There are just too many of us. Every citizen fertilizing his lawn, watering his nursery, feeding his chicken farm or his piggery, washing clothes or demanding his miles of monoculture lawns for his golf estate lifestyle, all of us contribute to the pollution cesspits we call Hartebeespoortdam, Roodeplaatdam and Vaaldam. (I hope you know why these dams look / smell like they look / smell and the chemistry behind all of the “normal” human activities in their catchments causing this).  Dams only look like that when there are people living in their catchments.
I deal with very affluent people from a privileged past and with tertiary qualifications on a daily basis. Well informed people.  They despise government primarily because of racial issues and then because people hate to be regulated, that’s it!
Why do I say this? Because they take us (government) to court regularly.  Why? Because we dare regulate them in terms of all the environmental legislation in this country.  We all know that the implementation / enforcement is poor, but at least we have the legislation that was developed WITH the public in a very participative manner.  This is very unusual compared to the rest of the world.  You had ample opportunity to participate.  This privilege must be acknowledged.
The public hates us because we dare to stand in their way of massive profit making.  It is sad when I read so many derogative statements from an outdoorsman like you about our “stupid” environmental legislation.  Of course we sometimes do our homework poorly but we are under capacity because so many competent staff resigned and left the core business of service delivery.  This is old news and it doesn’t help to keep on hampering on these facts.  Let’s do something. 
Have you ever written any legislation yourself?
Do you know what it takes to get the first draft on the table?
Have you ever written / compiled an approved Ecological Management Plan?
Have you ever tried to implement something like this?
It is a long cumbersome process, and in the end you can stand back and insult the government official because it is the government official who has to take responsibility for the process.
If you and your outdoor buddies want to make a contribution, please read and consider the message attached below

It could be a very useful platform for you to use and actively contribute something.  More organized pressure can be orchestrated from NGO-groupings like this to facilitate environmental “health”.
Thanks for your patience.

Nico. Tel: 011 355 1496