23 June 2005

CapeNature managers take a 5% pay cut amid crisis in funding

Senior managers at cash-strapped CapeNature have taken a voluntary 5% cut in salary to try to ease the conservation organisation's serious financial problems.

CapeNature's chief executive officer, David Daitz, told MPLs at a standing committee meeting this week that the organisation was R20 million in the red.

Those who have taken 5% pay cuts from July to the end of the year are Daitz; Kas Hamman, director of conservation; Fanie Bekker, operations manager; Nicole Welch, director of finance; Adnaan Adams, director for business development; Glenda Keyster, human resources manager and Sandy Floris, financial manager.

"We're trying to prove we, as the executive, are serious about the cash-flow problem. The staff are all aware of it," Bekker said.

He said the cash problems had affected staff morale, but this was improving as "opportunities were opening up" to solve the problem.

"The trademark of conservation staff is that we're passionate about what we're doing. If we were a private company in the same financial difficulties, I don't think you would have had seen the same thing of taking salary cuts," Bekker said.

The MEC for Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Tasneem Essop, said she had not been told about the pay cut. She had heard about it when it was raised by the DA and had asked her chief director, Theo Tolmay, to establish if this was correct.

Essop referred the Cape Times to Tolmay, who confirmed CapeNature's senior management had taken pay cuts.

CapeNature ran into a cash crunch after being transformed into a board in 2000. The move was designed to allow it raise funds and to enter into public-private financial partnerships, but this has not worked as planned.

Although R35m has been raised from donors, the money may not be used for managing projects. Daitz said earlier this meant that raising donor funds had got CapeNature into more financial trouble.

It was envisaged private companies would develop tourist facilities in nature reserves and pay CapeNature rent. But CapeNature has not signed a single lease in five years, largely because private enterprise has been scared off having to shoulder all the financial risk, including installing infrastructure like roads and sewerage.

Source: www.capetimes.co.za


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