Cape Times reports that the main aim of the water and environment conservation project, Working for Water, has been undermined by political interference, bureaucracy and heavy emphasis on job creation.
Professor Brian van Wilgen of Stellenbosch University spoke to CapeTalk's John Maytham about these concerns that hover around Working for water.
His concerns are that the project is not serving its purpose of clearing alien vegetation, which he regards as the priority. He says the control teams tend to target areas that are more easily accessible, rather than rugged mountain areas with no access roads.
The problem that they face is that they've already started a lot of projects, which are arguably not priority areas, and it would be very difficult for them to disengage from those areas because of political ramifications.— Professor Brian van Wilgen of Stellenbosch University
If you started a bunch of job opportunities in a particular area and you close them down, that is not going to go down too well.— Professor Brian van Wilgen of Stellenbosch University
Van Wilgen argues that if the coastal belts from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth become fully invaded with alien vegetation, about 36 percent of our water resources will be lost.
One of these years we going to run out of water if these catchments continue to be invaded— Professor Brian van Wilgen of Stellenbosch University
John Maytham also spoke to Dr Christo Marais, Acting Head of Operation at Working for Water about allegations of political interference in the project.
Marais says that the project has prioritised the mountain catchment areas that van Wilgen was talking about, and says they have a data system to show that.
If we overlay what we do, the polygons or the areas we have treated with priority, then i would suggest that we relatively well overlay the priorities where they are.— Dr Christo Marais, Acting Head of Operation at Working for Water
Marais emphasised that the primary responsibility for invasive plant management lies with land owners, and is not the responsibility of Working for Water or the government .
Listen to the full conversation below: