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Governance development at the Mayibuye Game Reserve

A looking glass for communal land reform and conservation


The Mayibuye Game Reserve (MGR) is in KwaZulu Natal Province and lies on the north eastern side of Camperdown, 45km from Durban and 40km from Pietermaritzburg on the N3, the main arterial road running from Durban to Johannesburg. The local community, the Ximba people, were awarded a land restitution claim in terms of a settlement agreement in April 2007. The land was restored to the Mayibuye Community Trust (MCT), the beneficiaries of which are the land claimants.

The MCT has opted to develop the restituted land as a game reserve linked to a commercial residential development. Interest and investment opportunities in these enterprises are positive. The need for effective community governance has been identified by the MCT as a critical path for the success of the project overall.

The relationship between the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) and MCT started in 2017 during a meeting held at the MGR in June 2017, facilitated by Clive Poultney. The purpose of the meeting was to respectively introduce the SAWC and MCT and other key stakeholders such as the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation and the Limpopo Wildlife Incubator to assess the feasibility of partnering in developing the Mayibuye project. This meeting was followed up by the MCT and Earth Organisation visiting the SAWC in October 2017 where the respective services provided by the SAWC were presented, including the role and function of the Rural Initiatives for a Sustainable Environment (RISE) Unit. It was then decided to support the MGR as one the RISE Unit’s longitudinal sites with governance training and support for one year, with funding secured through United for Wildlife supported by The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

Mayibuye Community Trust Training groups

Mayibuye Community Trust Training groups

The first governance training session took place at the Mayibuye Training Centre in Camperdown from 11 to 14 December 2017. The RISE team comprising of Sboniso Phakathi (RISE Leader); Linda Hlengwa (RISE Community Projects’ Facilitator assigned to the Mayibuye Project); and Elna de Beer (RISE Mentor) facilitated the four-day training session.

The training was undertaken in collaboration with the MCT team to facilitate full integration of the outputs of the training into required and to-be-established governance processes. The overall approach to governance development within the MCT is a phased and iterative process of training and application informed by the RISE ‘s Unit approach for longitudinal sites,

The overall objectives of governance development are:

⦁ Through training, identify and develop governance guidelines, systems and tools to render support to the MCT in managing the MGR effectively;
⦁ Inform the development and implementation of stakeholder engagement strategies; and
⦁ Inform the development and implementation of strategic economic and commercial development strategies.
The specific training objectives in December 2017 were to facilitate:
⦁ Training in the concepts of environment, community, livelihoods, development and the typology of participation;
⦁ Training in the approaches of Community Based Conservation (CBC) focusing on: Protected Area Outreach, Collaborative Management and Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM);
⦁ Training in stakeholder identification and the applied identification of stakeholders relevant to the MCT;
⦁ Training in key concepts of Theory of Change (ToC); and
⦁ Using the ToC facilitate a process to determine ‘desired state’ of the MCT.

Group work on the desired state

Group work on the desired state

The SAWC Higher Certificate in Nature Conservation implementation and Leadership (NQF Level 5) Module in Community Development and Conservation was used a guideline for the training presented. One of the critical discussions in the training was the changing role of conservation in local development.

The MCT explained their rationale for working with local communities as follows:

Feedback in class

Feedback in class

“MCT consults with the land claim beneficiaries and community via the Traditional Leadership (Inkosi and the Izinduna) in the area to call meetings for their respective villages, to give them information. We inform them of the various projects MCT is involved in, and how women, the youth, men and those who live with disability can be involved through employment opportunities. Sixty percent of employment opportunities are given to the Mayibuye land claim beneficiaries (MCT), with the remaining forty percent of employment offered to the greater community (non-claimants). We, the MCT had collectively agreed on this approach. In 1963 when the Mayibuye community were displaced from their original land, the great Ximba community welcomed the claimants into their society, hence the decision to involve the community.” (Translated from notes – Chairman of the MCT).

Our unit looks forward to strengthening our relationship with the MCT in 2018; a community who continues to inspire with their passion, belief and their dream of showing what is possible for communal land reform.

Exercise during training

Exercise during training