Msunduzi municipality plans to lease its timber plantation
A man collects wood from an Msunduzi plantation.
Msunduzi wishes to lease her plantation forest for 20 to 30 years.
The municipality’s executive committee will decide at its next meeting next Tuesday how the city should treat the forest.
A report recommending that the forest be leased for up to 30 years was withdrawn Wednesday at a council meeting.
The board turned around in its decision to lease the land after a brief caucus at Wednesday’s board meeting.
Ministerial representative Sicelo Duma last month advised the council to act on the forest.
At the time, Duma said the forest was “bleeding the city dry.”
The municipality has been studying ways to manage the R83 million forest.
The city’s director general of sustainability and enterprises, Felix Nxumalo, said the portfolio committee had discussed what to do with the forest.
He said the portfolio committee had reviewed all of the recommendations from the internal audit unit and the recommendations were that the forest be sold outright.
âThis will mean that all risk should be transferred to a private company. Whether it’s his risk of fire, security and everything. The municipality would only monitor. “
Director of Sustainable Development and City Business Felix Nxumalo
âThe belief was that the board should also consider a public-private partnership.
âThe issue of outright sale was discussed, but the portfolio committee was not in favor of this, as we would hand the forest over to private hands,â Nxumalo said.
Nxumalo said the second option is to lease the land to a private company.
âThis will mean that all risk should be transferred to a private company. Whether it’s his risk of fire, security and everything. The municipality would only monitor, âNxumalo said.
But the portfolio committee agreed to lease the forest.
Nxumalo explained that the lease would be for a maximum of 30 years as the trees would begin to mature after seven years.
Msunduzi mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla said the report was withdrawn as the Exco had to apply its spirit to the long-term lease.
READ | Msunduzi forests move from cash cow to responsibility
ACDP adviser Rienus Niemand said criminal charges should be pursued for theft of timber in the forest.
âThe way forward must be an open and transparent supply chain management process which must result in the appointment of a credible and experienced company,â said Niemand.
He later commented, saying, âThis administration, in its dereliction of duty, inability and incompetence, has cost taxpayers millions. Managing the consequences is key to eliminating additional losses. “
DA adviser Ross Strachan said he was backing the move with a few additions.
âThe Pietermaritzburg and Midlands Chamber of Commerce, under the current agreement, deploys a knowledgeable / qualified / experienced private sector professional to assist in the process of identifying a suitable management company to lease forestry, with a sustainable business plan, âStrachan said.