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March 12, 2016

iSimangaliso – growing future leaders In May 2014

iSimangaliso – growing future leaders In May 2014.

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority embarked on a new programme of developing human capital and transferring skills by hosting 14 interns for an initial period of 20 months.

Young graduates and diplomates were recruited through the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), who, in partnership with 43 environment/biodiversity organisations, embarked on a major skills development and job creation pilot programme, Groen Sebenza, a Jobs Fund Partnership Project.

Dr Tanya Abrahamse, CEO of SANBI, said: “What an honour it has been to work with 43 biodiversity and conservation organisations to grow and nurture this cadre of confident and competent young people to shape the future of our sector”.

iSimangaliso welcomed 14 interns to work in the World Heritage Site in May 2014. Seen above from left are: Sifiso Vumase, Nokwethemba Zulu, Phumlani Lugagu, Nomfundo Msibi, Fanele Fakude, iSimangaliso’s Manager: Training and Capacity Building Nonku Lafuleni, Zweli Miya, Consultant Colleen Crawford Cousins, Mandisa Nkosi, Zama Mkhwanazi, Bongani Gumede, Nkosi Mbatha and Nothile Ndwandwe. (Missing: Slindile Msweli, Nosipho Ngcobo and Yvonne Mpanza)

SANBI’s Groen Sebenza aimed at developing priority skills in the biodiversity sector to create sustainable job opportunities for 800 unemployed graduates and matriculants and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority offered place for 11 of these bright young interns.In addition there were three more interns contractually employed under the GEF programme.

The Authority made available a mentoring and intern support programme designed to support interns to develop professionally, introduced them to the history of the area and the Park and the mandate (conservation and development) programmes of the organisation. Regular reflection by interns on their work experience was facilitated, and the programme also aimed to build interpersonal skills in working in teams, communication skills, and an approach to conflict management. The iSimangaliso staff members who were providing task-based mentoring were also provided access to individual and group support to successfully integrate the interns into their workflow through a programme designed and facilitated by Ms Colleen Crawford Cousins, currently funded by iSimangaliso’s Global Environmental Facility programme.

At the end of the agreed intern period in December 2015, iSimangaliso sourced funding to extend the period of seven Groen Sebenza interns’ contracts for a further year, while four were awarded full time placements at iSimangaliso and other institutions after successfully applying for advertised posts. The organisation recently welcomed onto permanent staff Mandisa Nkosi (Administrative Assistant to Park Operations Director) and Zama Mkhwanazi (Bookkeeper), while Nokwethemba Zulu secured a permanent position at Katanga (an iSimangaliso service provider) and Yvonne Mpanza took up full time employment at the Department of Education. All are from schools and communities around the Park. The majority are University graduates who were part of iSimangaliso’s Higher Education Programme. (M&G)

According to iSimangaliso’s Manager: Training and Capacity Building, Nonku Lafuleni, “The opportunities for growth and development continue for those still within the iSimangaliso intern programme and their mentors are confident that by the conclusion of this programme they will have acquired all of the skills they need to achieve whatever career goals they have set for themselves. With iSimangaliso’s support, all of the interns have also now obtained their drivers licenses, along with training in photography, wilderness experiences and many other training initiatives. We have been impressed by the calibre of the next generation in adapting, learning, integrating and availing themselves of all of the learning opportunities presented to them.”

Interns continue to take part in the implementation of day to day iSimangaliso programmes including: Environmental education; Marketing and branding; School Awards Programme; Research on natural resource use management; Training and capacity building for community youth and Event planning and hosting.

Says Bronwyn James, iSimangaliso’s Senior Manager: Development and Planning: “Having the next generation working with and learning from some of the ‘older’ employees has created a great energy in the organisation. Their youth, vigour – and it must be added, vibrant fashion style – have diluted the average age of iSimangaliso’s employees by decades and injected a colourful, fun and positive element into the organisation. We sincerely hope that this opportunity proves to be the launching pad for many successful careers in conservation, social development and leadership.”

The interns have explored many facets of the iSimangaliso Authority’s work in conservation and development to evolve in their individual roles within the organisation. Interns still working with iSimangaliso are:

Sifiso Vumase (BTech: Ecotourism Management) is helping to educate the youth on iSimangaliso’s environmental education programmes.

Zwelithini Miya (Bachelor of Social Science Honours: Geography & Environmental Management) works within the Land Care department and is involved in GIS and mapping.

Nkosikhona Mbatha (National Diploma: Ecotourism Management) does database capture in the Finance Department.

Bongani Gumede (BA Cultural and Heritage Tourism, BSS Honours: Community and Development Studies) works in the Training and Capacity Building unit.

Phumlani Lugagu (BSc Environmental Science) is attached to the Environmental Planning unit after cutting his teeth in the Research Department.

Nosipho Ngcobo (BSocSc Geography Environment Management) works on the SMME programmes.

Slindile Msweli (BTech Hospitality Management) recently joined the Marketing Department after 20 months with Katanga Cleaning Services.

Fanele Fakude (ND Travel and Tourism) works with concession contracts, permits and marketing functions. Nothile Ndwandwe (BCom Economics Finance and Marketing) is working with Raizcorp on iSimangaliso’s rural enterprise development programmes.

For Park information, visit, contact or call 035 590 1633. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Youtube, or visit our website at
Media enquiries should be directed to Siyabonga Mhlongo at or 084 382 0884.

Category: Blog

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