Statement on the departure of the CEO of Isimangaliso Wetland Park, Mr. Andrew Zaloumis
03 September 2017
The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, wishes to announce the departure of Mr Andrew Zaloumis as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
Mr Zaloumis, who is completing his studies in Sustainability at Cambridge University, has been an outstanding leader in the field of conservation for over 20 years.
He was instrumental in the establishment of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and its transformation into a renowned and world class conservation tourism destination that today occupies prime status as a World Heritage Site.
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park is internationally recognized for its model of protected areas management that puts communities at the centre of conservation.
The consolidation of 16 parks under one banner and management system has enabled government to deliver significant development benefits for the area through both the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority.
These include the construction of the upgrades to the N2 highway and theHluhluwe/ Mozambique road. During the early days of setting up of iSimangaliso, the area was infested with malaria. Mr Zaloumis also implementatedthe anti-malaria programme that has reduced malaria incidence by 96% in KwaZulu-Natal. Other successes include a promotion of investments to the tune of more than R200 million in roads, bulk services, tourism accommodation and day-visitor facilities in iSimangaliso.
“Under his tenure, Mr Zaloumis pioneered and institutionalised development-focused conservation at the Park,” Dr. Molewa said.
Examples of this development-focused conservation, due to the restored eco-system, are the recent reintroduction of game last seen a century ago on the banks of St Lucia; the separation of commercial forestry plantations from the park as a way of ensuring that these two businesses operate without negative impact in one another and the systematic rehabilitation of the Eastern and Western Shores of iSimangaliso.
Much of this work has been undertaken using labour-intensive methods, creating a significant number of temporary jobs in the area.
A total of 87 young people have received support for their university studies; some 3000 crafters, artists, and tour guides have been trained to in these different field, to support the continuously growing tourism industry in the area; and 215 small businesses have received mentoring and support. Of these,106 were given seed capital.
There are currently three community-owned tourism lodges in the Park, communities have been supported in the aquision of tourist boat and now have also been licensed to operate boat cruises, turtle tours, game drives, and other excursions in the Park.
All this work in iSimangaliso has translated into positive gains for the local tourism industry. These programmers have increased the number of tourists visiting the area, which has proven to be higher growth in the Kwa-Zulu/Natal as a destination, both in terms of numbers of domestic and international arrivals, and average tourist spend.
Under Mr. Zaloumis’ leadership, iSimangaliso has achieved 15 consecutive unqualified audits.
As an acknowledgment of his contribution to both the conservation and the tourism industries, he has received a number of awards:
- SAICA 2015/16 award for Public Sector Audit Excellence
- WWF Living Planet Award
- National Heritage Council Golden Shield Award for World Heritage Site of the Year
- 2017 KfW-Bernhard-Grzimek-PreisAward
Minister Molewa expresses her appreciation to Mr. Zaloumis for his contribution to our conservationefforts in South Africa and wishes him well for the future.
Mr Zaloumis is being succeeded by Prof Anis Koradia as an interim CEO for a maximum of six months while legally defined recruitment is being pursued.
Prof Koradia is has extensive experience in public service administration having served as the acting Head of Department of the North West Province‘s Department of Agriculture and as the Chief Education Administrator of the Intervention Team deployed by President Jacob Zuma to Limpopo in 2011/2012. He will be deployed to iSimangaliso with a team of various specialists in different relevant fields from DEA to support him and ensure that this Public Entity sustains its good track record.
Mr Albi Modise