Mr Tebogo Mogashoa was elected as WRSA president for a two-year period at the WRSA Annual General Meeting held on 24 March 2018. Tebogo delivered the following acceptance speech that evening at the gala dinner:
I feel honoured and privileged to be given the opportunity to lead this organisation in the capacity of President. I can say without fear of contradiction that this event will go down in the annals of the history of our organisation as a milestone on our journey towards building a country whose foundation and pillars are the respect, dignity, equality and the right of each to unleash our full potential.
It was barely four years ago that I joined the wildlife industry as a new entrant when I bought my first herd of animals at a Stud Game Breeders auction. Since then, it has been a wonderful journey for me of building relations that have resulted in great friendships and partnerships. Most of you here present tonight have contributed to my development in this industry, hence my presence in addressing you in the capacity of President – I THANK YOU.
Allow me at this point in time to borrow the words of one South African leader whose description of our country and people will forever remain poignant and a moving assertion of inclusivity and the nature, character and essence of being an African.
In his seminal and inspiring speech “I AM AN AFRICAN”, former President Thabo Mbeki said,
“… I am formed of the migrants who left Europe to find a new home on our native land. Whatever their own actions, they remain part of me … in my veins courses the blood of the Malay slaves who came from the East. Their proud dignity informs my hearing, their culture a part of my essence…”
Once again, we must at this juncture remind ourselves of the ethos and tenets of our Constitution, whose preamble unequivocally declares that
“South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.”
With regard to land reform, I would like to reassure you that this leadership of WRSA along with other agricultural formations and civil society, will actively partake in government’s public participation processes relative to the drafting of the regulations that will govern the proposed legislation on land reform (in particular, the expropriation of land without compensation). I want you to know that we will robustly engage with the Constitutional Review Committee of Parliament (that has been tasked to engage the people of South Africa about this matter), we will engage them in the interests of ALL farmers and wildlife ranchers alike during this process.
It is a matter of proud record that as WRSA, we have set ourselves the objective to build an “inclusive wildlife industry, to protect our natural resources and to leave a lasting legacy for future generations.”
The successes and progress of our organization could not have been achieved without the dedication and leadership of those who came before us: Former presidents Jacques Malan, Borrie Erasmus, Gert Dry, and Wiaan van der Linde.
I would like to pay a special tribute to the outstanding and visionary leadership of Dr. Peter Oberem who was our president until this afternoon. May I ask Dr. Oberem to stand up, and in equal measure, request you to give him a round of applause for the quality leadership that he has provided this organisation. THANK YOU!
The one thing that has never ceased to amaze me is that, as the human species, our capacity to build and master the secrets of the universe is equalled only by our capacity to destroy!
According to statistics, rhino poaching here in South Africa increased from 13 to 1004 rhinos between 2007 and 2013. An increase of 7,700% in just six years. Today I speak about rhinos, but they are not the only animals currently threatened with extinction due to criminal activity.
All of these challenges require that we formulate a strategic approach in consultation with our government and other stakeholders to halt the destruction and pillaging of the natural heritage of our country. This is where awareness campaigns and other initiatives around rhino horn trade and regulation become critical to implement before it is too late!
This leadership of WRSA will support the advocacy campaign and will also lobby the government of South Africa to support the legalization of the international trade of rhino horn at the next CITES CoP18 Conference. This important gathering will be held in May 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
I remain convinced and optimistic that our organisation has the capacity and the human resources to maximise on the gains that have been achieved so far, whilst tackling head-on any challenges that face us. We must at all times be guided by the vision that we have articulated, which is to achieve an inclusive wildlife industry whilst protecting our natural resources, amongst our many other objectives. Let us be agents of change and participants not only within WRSA, but within the wider scale of our country. Together we must provide the kind of leadership that acts as a role model, inspired by ethical behaviour which in turn will earn us pride and gain the respect and trust of the people of South Africa.
I look forward to walking this journey with my Deputy, Wiaan van der Linde, towards building a WRSA that is EXTERNALLY FOCUSED and actively lobbies to present SOUTH AFRICA as the leading and preferred destination for Wildlife Experiences and Tourism. Wiaan is a stalwart in the industry and is a much-valued asset to our organization. Ladies and Gentlemen, a round of applause for Wiaan van der Linde
As I conclude …
I believe we can rise up to the rays of a new dawn of hope, cooperation and collaborative efforts, recognizing at all times that we are one people and that our destiny is interlinked.
I am proud to lead an organisation that has embraced the principles as enshrined in our Constitution. In one of our key documents as WRSA we pledge –
“To stand together, (within) the full value chain of the wildlife industry and citizens of South Africa.”
Ladies and gentlemen. Dames en here,
I THANK YOU.