First published on WWF South Africa
Former SANParks head Mavuso Msimang, currently Corruption Watch’s chairperson, has received the prestigious WWF Living Planet Award for his significant contribution to the environmental sector in post-apartheid South Africa.
He was honoured at WWF’s annual thought leadership event, the Living Planet Conference, at The Maslow in Sandton.
This year’s conference had as its theme Water, what next and included several WWF speakers from across Africa. The conference took a closer look at three South African cities – Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg – in the light of their particular water challenges.
A key moment at the annual conference is the conferring of the WWF South Africa Living Planet Award. This award recognises exceptional South Africans who inspire people to live in harmony with nature for the benefit of our country and the wellbeing of all. Winners are deemed to have made catalytic contributions to environmental conservation and have the ability to leverage further conservation achievements.
WWF South Africa CEO Dr Morné du Plessis commented: “Mavuso Msimang is undisputedly one of the most significant contributors to the post-1994 conservation sector in South Africa and a worthy recipient of this year’s award. He has also served our organisation with dedication over the years, as a board member since 2011 and the chair of our social, ethics and transformation committee.”
More about Mavuso Msimang
Raised in KwaZulu-Natal, Mavuso Msimang has a BSc (entomology/biology) from the University of Zambia, and an MBA from the US International University in San Diego, California. He served on the MK Military High Command from 1966 to 1969, before being appointed as secretary to the then ANC President, Oliver Tambo, a position he held from 1969 to 1971.
In 1977, he joined the UN, working in Zambia, Kenya and Ethiopia. He subsequently worked for the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and CARE International as country director in Ethiopia and Kenya, before being appointed head of emergency planning for WUSC working out of Ottawa, Canada.
After his return to South Africa, he was appointed CEO of SANParks from 1997. During his six years at the helm of SANParks, he was credited with transforming it into a broadly representative organisation, introducing a successful commercialisation programme and putting an end to the controversial culling of elephants in the Kruger National Park.
He oversaw the implementation of the organisation’s environmental and social responsibility programmes, involving communities around the parks by offering them employment and business opportunities, thereby broadening the participation base in conservation in South Africa.
Msimang is a co-founder and longstanding board member of the African Parks Foundation, established in 2000, a non-profit agency that manages over 10-million hectares of protected areas across Africa. Until recently he served as chair of the board of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, a 330 000-hectare protected area in KwaZulu-Natal, and has served as a board member of the Peace Parks Foundation focusing on transboundary conservation areas across southern Africa.
The Department of Environmental Affairs called him out of retirement to become its “rhinoceros conservation issue manager”. The brief was to solicit a wide range of views on the survival, conservation and management of rhinos. He chairs Corruption Watch and is an outspoken critic of public sector corruption and maladministration and has served for many years as the chair of the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation.