OPINION

Zille withdraws Landmark Foundation invitation - Max Ozinsky

Premier acted after organisation initiated legal action against WCape govt over hunting licenses

ANC Statement on Premier's withdrawal of invitation to Landmark Foundation to attend Animal Welfare Summit

29 March 2012

DA Premier Zille claims to believe in our constitution and an open society. Yet day by day her actions contradict her words.

In her latest attack on the constitutional rights of citizens of the Western Cape and open government, Premier Zille has withdrawn an invitation she had personally made to the Landmark Foundation to attend an Animal Welfare Summit being organised by her office for next week.

The reason given for the withdrawal of the invitation is that the Landmark Foundation has initiated legal action against the Western Cape provincial government and CapeNature to ensure that they apply the Threatened and Protected Species (TAPS) regulations under the Biodiversity Act and stop the Bredell cull which is resulting in the deaths of thousands of protected animals, such as leopards. The withdrawal of the invitation follows the unilateral cancellation of a signed agreement between CapeNature and the Landmark Foundation, merely because they disagreed with the issuing of hundreds of hunting permits on instruction of MEC Bredell.

The Landmark Foundation is a world leading NGO in sustainable conservation methods. In the Western Cape it has pioneered projects to study and protect endangered predators such as leopards. It has led the campaign against the Bredell cull and recently began legal action against Zille's government for its refusal to implement legislation protecting threatened and protected species.

In an open society, the fact that an individual or organisation disagrees with government, or even takes government to court, does not remove their rights to participate in policy formulation, or to engage with government.

However Premier Zille does not like to hear from those who disagree with her views. Zille has long ago made her mind up that the votes of farmers are more important than the conservation of protected species like leopards. That is why after meeting only farmers in 2010, she instructed MEC Bredell to ensure that hundreds of hunting licences were issued to farmers, without following any due process, and in contravention of the Taps regulations and the laws governing CapeNature.

It is clear that Premier Zille is scared that if the Landmark Foundation attends the summit, her policies, which threaten the survival of leopards, one of the big five, in the Western Cape, will not be supported.

Unfortunately for Premier Zille in a democratic society there are many view points. All citizens, whatever their opinion, have the right to engage with government. By refusing to allow a key and world leading NGO to participate in the summit, Zille shows that her commitment to an open democracy and our constitution is merely lip service. Her actions speak much louder than her words.

Statement issued by Max Ozinsky, MPL, on behalf of the ANC Western Cape, March 30 2012

Click here to sign up to receive our free daily headline email newsletter