LED to man­age land al­lo­ca­tions

Grocott's Mail - - OUTSIDE - By SUE MA­CLEN­NAN

Ac­cess to Mil­ner Dam for mem­bers of the pub­lic was never re­stricted, Makana Parks Man­ager Jeff Bu­daza says. He was re­spond­ing to ques­tions from Gro­cott’s Mail about con­cerns that the Slaaikraal com­mon­age and dam, a pop­u­lar recre­ational area, had been an­nexed or ac­quired by a group of stock own­ers.

Out­door en­thu­si­asts com­plained on so­cial me­dia that they’d been un­able to ac­cess the area be­cause two pad­locked gates stood in their way.

On a re­cent visit to the dam, Gro­cott’s Mail met Mashiyani Skele, who lives in a pre­fab­ri­cated struc­ture next to the ru­ins of the old brick house above Mil­ner Dam.

At the time, he was look­ing af­ter around 40 goats, a cou­ple of pigs, a flock of geese and around two dozen cows.

He re­ferred Gro­cott’s Mail’s ques­tions to their owner.

“There are five of us on that farm,” said the owner, Dolly Caba, who lives in Gra­ham­stown.

“We don’t own it, we just keep our things there. The farm be­longs to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. If you want to know any­thing you must ask them!”

Gro­cott’s Mail did, and Bu­daza con­firmed that one of his staff had fa­cil­i­tated the use of the land and the dam by some Gra­ham­stown fam­i­lies.

This wasn’t un­usual, he said. “When I ar­rived in this depart­ment I in­her­ited a sys- tem whereby it was Parks that al­lo­cated com­mon­age land – for graz­ing, or ware­houses etc.” Dur­ing his pre­de­ces­sor’s time, the port­fo­lio had been di­vided into Agri­cul­ture and En­vi­ron­ment.

“I’m the one who raised the prob­lem,” Bu­daza said. “I’m not the one who is sup­posed to be al­lo­cat­ing land. I am not in a po­si­tion to give some­one even an inch of land that be­longs to Makana Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.”

He said land had rou­tinely been al­lo­cated to var­i­ous en­ti­ties un­der the pre­vi­ous dis­pen­sa­tion.

A mo­tion was due to be tabled at the next Coun­cil meet­ing (25 Oc­to­ber) to have land al­lo­ca­tion re­moved from Parks and taken to the Lo­cal Eco­nomic Direc­torate.

Ten­ants

The Slaaikraal farm com­mon­age is 400ha, Bu­daza said, and six emerg­ing farm­ers are there as ten­ants.

Ac­cord­ing to the cur­rent sys­tem, who­ever wants a space on one of Makana’s farms ap­proaches the of­fice and that per­son gets al­lo­cated space af­ter some dis­cus­sion with the of­fi­cial. In fu­ture, they will be re­ferred to LED and put on a wait­ing list.

“Makana doesn’t tell the farm­ers what project they must un­der­take: in­stead they come with their own ideas and ours is to as­sist them ac­cord­ingly,” Bu­daza said.

Six cat­tle, 34 goats, 14 sheep, eight pigs and 15 ducks were cur­rently be­ing kept on the SLaaikraal com­mon­age.

“The ac­cess to Mil­ner Dam was never closed,” Bu­daza said, “but mem­bers of the pub­lic com­plained at the of­fice that some peo­ple leave the gate open. We de­cided to lock the gate so that who­ever wants to visit the dam can book the keys out with Parks.

“When peo­ple still com­plained, we de­cided not to lock the gate but just keep it closed.”

Gro­cott’s Mail’s visit by moun­tain bike was be­fore this in­ter­view, and it had been nec­es­sary to lift bi­cy­cles over locked gates then.

Fol­low­ing con­cerns that live­stock was in di­rect con­tact with the dam, Gro­cott’s Mail asked In­fra­struc­ture and Tech­ni­cal Ser­vices Direc­tor Dali Mlen­zana how im­por­tant the dam might be dur­ing a pro­longed drought.

A re­cent in­ves­ti­ga­tion of dams in Makana by engi­neers was not on the ba­sis that the dam/s might form part of an over­all wa­ter sup­ply strat­egy, Mlen­zana said.

“Five-yearly dam safety eval­u­a­tions are con­ducted in terms of Reg­u­la­tion 35 to iden­tify ac­tual and po­ten­tial short­com­ings. Pro­tec­tion and man­age­ment is then based on the dam safety rules for each dam and rec­om­men­da­tions of the as­sess­ment by the En­gi­neer.”

In a re­cent Coun­cil meet­ing, the DA’s Brian Fargher tabled ques­tions about the use of the dam, in­clud­ing the cri­te­ria for an­i­mals to be kept within the catch­ment area of the Gra­ham­stown wa­ter source.

Thirty-four goats graze on the Slaaikraal com­mon­age. Mashiyane Skele whis­tles to call them into a se­cure en­clo­sure at night.

Pho­tos: Sue Ma­clen­nan

Mashiyane Skele looks af­ter the live­stock of an owner who lives in Gra­ham­stown.

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