Future of Pondoland lies with ecotourism

South Africa’s new Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk on Monday stood by his department’s anti-mining stance towards proposed dune mining in the Pondoland region of the Eastern Cape — but he is set to see the king of the Pondos to discuss the matter.

Asked about the ongoing dispute about the recent awarding of a minerals lease to Transworld Energy and Minerals Resources — representing Australian interests — by government to mine titanium in Pondoland, Van Schalkwyk said: “The way we should approach Pondoland is to see if it is possible to get an agreement on a vision for the area.

“The department feels strongly a vision for Pondoland should be one of ecotourism,” said Van Schalkwyk, who was appointed to the ministry in April.

He acknowledged that some people had argued that traditional economic development was required, which included mining. “That is why it is important to get agreement on a vision which will make all decisions much easier,” he said, noting that there were also other contentious issues to be resolved in the area including the matter of a toll road and the establishment of a wildlife park.

He had already met with the Eastern Cape premier and some of the members of

her cabinet and he said he would be visiting Pondoland on July 23 to visit the

effected areas. “I hope to meet with the king,” he said, noting that the Minister of Minerals and Energy Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka would be accompanying him on the visit. – I-Net Bridge

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