Belated compliments to you all. 2015 is upon us. The Chinese Zodiac calls this the year of the sheep or more appropriately in Swaziland, the year of the goat! (True). The Mayan Calendar predicted a comet hitting Jupiter yesterday spelling doomsday and some hippie haven in New Mexico will be packing their tents yet again at this end of the world postponement!
So what does 2015 hold for you? And more importantly to us all, is this the year RJB6 makes a breakthrough?
Whilst we ponder these celestial questions, I can tell you that the sun has not taken any time off during the festive season whilst the rain seems to have been on an extended vacation. With high 30’s being common place for the past 2 months, we look skyward daily and get mocked by clear skies. Dam levels feel the effects and are currently sitting at 60% – I think we need to get use to this as unless we receive some serious downpours within our catchment area over the coming weeks, trends dictate this situation will remain until September time. Some high winds over this same period have also left dirty water!
That being said, the tigerfish are still biting. I even heard of an 8kg + tiger being caught recently on barbell fillet, so there is still action to be had.
From water to land – the game population continues to expand at a rapid rate. The birth of impala, warthog, zebra and little brown wildebeest over the past 8 weeks has been exceptional and despite the lack of rain, our grazing capacity stands firm and does not disappoint in providing adequate nutrition to those who live here. There have been further sightings of the buffaloes and recent reports indicate the number has jumped from 7 – 9 now.
There have also been a few sightings of leopard on Mpangele Road and Mara way and whilst I personally have not seen this elusive predator, I have picked up fresh spoor regularly on my jogs around the Western Reserve. Below are pictures of more leopard spoor taken at East Shore Gate – these spoor seem to be of a male given the size and were both sides of the gate which confirms that this leopard jumped the gate and entered East Shore Reserve. I believe there is more than 1 leopard adding this reserve to their home range and you can be sure that where there is a male, he is usually there for a female. Exciting stuff indeed…….
So whilst I try to paint the picture of heaven on earth here in the Kingdom at Royal Jozini, the elephant in the room still remains – what of the politics!
As I seem to be fielding a lot of recurring questions and requests from concerned investors – it makes sense to get down to the nuts & bolts of the challenges we still face and give you my honest version of the current situation together with some answers to FAQ’s.
Firstly let me pre-empt you all by stating that the RJB6LOA committee shares the frustrations felt by investors on the time that has passed in efforts made to seek political resolution. If I do a calculation, I confirm that a total of 28 plots are owned by the current 8 RJB6LOA Directors – so we are paddling the same canoe! The fact remains that we are operating within the Kingdom of Swaziland and are constrained by that reality.
The heart of the matter is a desire by influential individuals to acquire a sizeable portion of our leasehold land for agricultural purposes in contravention of the international conservation treaty known as the Nsubane-Pongola TFCA. Whilst our original proposal (detailed in minutes from the Breakers Hotel meeting) includes the conversion of land to agriculture in the North – after hearing personally HMK’s referral to a compromise between tourism and agriculture – the sting in the tail for me lies in how much land is expected in this ‘’compromise’’ for agriculture. Should this include sections of the Western shores, it can have an impact on part of RJB6’s development plan. The consequences of the agricultural plan undermines the creation of the Trans-frontier Park, the conversion of land earmarked for conservation to agriculture and water abstraction permits from Department of Water Affairs South Africa to mention a few.
There is no doubt in my mind that land along the Eastern side of the reserve stretching North which represents 100% of all registered plots and future plots to be sold will remain untouched. I have even
spoken to a visiting agronomist who confirmed that this land is unsuitable for agriculture anyway. So don’t worry your lodges will be safe – we have the King’s personal assurance that no one is going to kick any of us out! The current negotiations revolve around trying to alert all parties concerned to the potential repercussions of infringing on abovementioned protocols and treaties whilst treading carefully on this sensitive ground. HMK’s seclusion for the past 4 months and a Swaziland Government that has only kicked back into gear recently after a festive season break certainly don’t assist in speeding things up.
So if you still have your sense of humor, consider these African proverbs which ring so true given this scenario:-
To run is not necessarily to arrive.
A patient man will eat ripe fruit.
However long the night, the dawn will break.
Below are my answers to some FAQ’s:-
What is the LOA doing to resolve the current impasse?
The LOA is working through an emissary to successfully conclude the size of land required for agriculture purposes without impacting on the original RJB6 development plan.
The LOA has made contact with the South African and British Embassies who are aware of the situation and promise to intervene on behalf of their subjects should a compromise not be forthcoming.
When will the new lease be signed?
The new lease will be signed once an agreement has been reached on land to be reclaimed for agriculture. The new lease will need to identify this land for reference.
I am tired of paying levies on a plot I do not utilise. What happens if I stop paying?
The legal responsibility to pay levies arises out of the notarisation of the sub-lease and membership of the LOA, which all investors are compelled to do. The current challenges we face does not affect an investor’s legal obligation to pay levies. The LOA, upkeep of the estate and levies required to fund this will be there forever.
Once a levy account defaults, the LOA instructs their attorneys to pursue this matter for legal recovery of outstanding amounts owed. The LOA uses Robinson Bertram for Swaziland investors and Garlicke & Bousfield for investors outside of Swaziland. The process starts with a letter of demand, failing which a summons is issued, this is followed by a sale in execution of the plot in question. In this situation, the ownership of the plot goes to the highest bidder. The LOA will bid for this plot up the value of the outstanding debt. In this scenario, outstanding debts are recovered from selling price with balance (if any) going to original owner. Generally in this situation, bids are well below market value.
How can I sell my plot?
Given the political situation revolving around the RJB6 project, now is not a good time to sell. The trade-off is to continue paying levies until resolution is sought and realising a return on your investment at that time.
Should you wish to sell and have a buyer, you can transfer ownership of the plot to the new buyer by means of a cession document. This avoids re-registration of the plot and transfer costs incurred in this process.
Can the RJB6LOA sell my plot for me?
The RJB6LOA is not in the business of property sales. Any leads the LOA receive will be offered unsold stock with sales proceeds going back to the LOA for ongoing operations and future infrastructure development.
I hope this does provide clarity on these issues, but please feel free to contact me should you have further questions.
I remain contactable on the details below and we hope to see you up here in the Kingdom soon.
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