Statement by community wilderness groups:
“Our name for our mountains and our culture is Amagug’esizwe (Treasure
of the Nation). The mountains of the AmaZizi and the AmaNgwane lie between the
two sections of the Maloti-Drakensberg World Heritage Site. One day we hope
that our mountains can also be a world heritage site – a Living Cultural and Natural
World Heritage Site. For many years we
have worked towards identifying a community-managed nature reserve with a
Our mountains are our heritage. They are also the heritage of all the
people of South Africa, as well as the whole world. Our wilderness is very
beautiful and we know that our mountains have a spiritual importance for many
visitors from South Africa and overseas. Our prophets have told us that the
mountains are places of great power. We know that we have a responsibility to
care for our wilderness and that we are accountable for this care. If you love
mountains and wilderness, and want to honour our culture, please help us.”
A message from the traditional AmaZizi leadership:
“My name is Sigungu Miya, brother
of the late Nkosi E.M. Miya of the AmaZizi. I speak on behalf of the family of
the recently deceased Nkosi Miya, as the traditional leadership of our people.
We have not been able to speak until now because we and our community have been
in mourning for our Inkosi, his children and his brother.
I wish to make it known
that, contrary to the claims of some people, Inkosi Miya never agreed to have
the cableway. He wanted his communities
to continue managing their own areas, without being manipulated or disturbed by
outsiders who might come to our area to make money for themselves, or take jobs
from our people, or disturb our culture.
He always spoke strongly about the conservation of all our natural and
cultural heritage. That is why he authorised the AmaZizi Wilderness Group, to
work with other community environmental teams to promote a community wilderness
area and work on wilderness management activities. We also wanted our local
wilderness, environmental and cultural groups to make school children aware of
the importance of nature and our culture. We do not want this cableway in our
The cableway is not desired by the AmaZizi leadership and many community
members, nor have they been properly consulted. The Busingatha Valley, and other valleys surrounding it, is home to the AmaZizi.
Together with the neighbouring AmaNgwane leadership, and following years of
consultation, there was consensus that 45 000 hectares of land would be
committed to a community nature reserve and wilderness area. A proclamation
process for this nature reserve had just commenced when the cableway proposal
was launched by a provincial MEC.
The cableway and its
associated large-scale tourism facilities would invade
on land in the heart of the anticipated community wilderness area, which is
imbued with profound ancestral and cultural connections. It would also disrupt the cultural and
The cableway would jeopardise the integrity of the World Heritage status
of the surrounding areas of the Drakensberg. It would also destroy the opportunity to create an unbroken protected
area covering close to 300km of the Drakensberg range.
The cableway and its associated infrastructure will
harm the environment and have
cumulative and irreversible impacts on the mountain and its wilderness.
The economic viability of the cableway is highly questionable. Earlier proposals of
Drakensberg cableways have never convincingly demonstrated viability – this one
is no different. Furthermore, community wilderness groups have employed far
more people in their programs than the current proposal promises to deliver.
A better alternative
The local community should rather be
assisted in establishing the nature reserve and wilderness area, and to ultimately
achieve the World Heritage Status they desire for the Treasure of the Nation. They should also be assisted in
developing two possible sites where large scale tourism developments like
hotels can be built. These sites are outside their wilderness boundary and the
development would have no negative impacts on the wilderness area.
For more information, please visit www.maloti-drakensberg.co.za/cableway
Posted: 1 January 2014 (Updated: 14 April 2015)