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AGM April 2011

April 2011  - AGM/Cencom Report Back 

OFFICE BEARERS FOR 2011:

The 2011 AGM of the Mountain Club of South Africa was a smooth affair with three uncontested nominations for the three main executive positions as described in the constitution:

President    Dave Jones    (S. Cape Section)

Treasurer  -   Lester Coelen (Cape Town Section)

Hon. Secretary  - Jenny Paterson  (Johannesburg Section)

The outgoing/incoming President recorded his thanks for the support given during his 2010 year in office by his outgoing Executive and especially the wise advice given by his Deputy President, Ottie Neser. The equally solid contributions of Andy Wood and Ulli Deutschlander as Executive members was also noted.  He welcomed  three Executive members, nominated from the floor and duly elected for 2011. 

Deputy President  - Tonie Roux  (Worcester Section)

Exco Member - Ulli Deutschlander  (Hottentots Holland Section)

Exco Member - Dobek Pater  (Johannesburg Section) 

A special word of thanks was expressed to the hard-working, outgoing Cencom Secretary, Gerhard van Wyngaardt, for his nearly three years in the position with appreciation for a smooth hand-over to his successor.  This hand-over was made easier by the fact that Jenny has occupied the portfolio before. (A word of thanks is added by your IT editor to the new/old President for his service.)

HIGHLIGHTS OF APRIL CENCOM MEETING:

As is normal, the 2nd April AGM moved directly into the first routine meeting of Cencom with a full attendance of all 14 Sections apart from Namibia. Four Chairpersons did need to nominate individuals to represent them from their Sections.  

The meeting started with a presentation by Neil Margetts of  SANCF  (The Sports/Competition Climbers) suggesting a means for his organisation, which has many MCSA members in it, to forge closer ties with the MCSA.  His proposals led to positive debate but further progress will need to be facilitated by the Climbing Sub-committee as soon as a co-ordinator to replace Greg Borman (emigrated to Australia) can be found.

Other Sub-committee co-ordinators had earlier confirmed their availability for another year:

Youth  - Jenny Paterson

Conservation  - Maretha Alant

Expeditions - Ulrike Kiefer

IT - Michael van Breda

Climbing - Vacant

S & R - Rob Thomas 

After the presentation by SANCF, routine business was the order of the day but with some new and interesting policy decisions needed.  These resulted in healthy debate:

Club Properties:  Following an unfortunate incident at the Krom River Hut when a visiting member from another Section acted in good faith but without authority, by ring-barking large pines close to the hut which had been planted 60 years ago when the hut was built.  Subsequently, these undesirable trees had come under an alien plant management programme in consultation with Nature Conservation and were being controlled prior to replacement. The matter was handled very well by the Sections concerned, Paarl Wellington and Stellenbosch,. 

 Cencom has again confirmed that MCSA Huts and Properties are under the control of the Sections which own them and that “visitors” are obliged to obey all their rules.  They may not take matters into their own hands.  In particular, while an alien plant management plan is expected on each property, visitors may not take the law into their own hands and act unilaterally by felling trees or any other similar actions.    

Alien Plant Management Plans:  The Krom River Hut incident has highlighted the need for all Sections to be sensitive to the threat of alien plant invasions and to act accordingly in response to Object Number Three of the MCSA as recorded in every issue of the Annual Journal:

“Initiate and Support Actions towards Protecting the Natural Beauty and Wilderness Character ofMountains and to Promote their Effective Conservation Management”

Cencom gave its support to the initiative already taken by the Conservation Sub-committee in reminding all Sections of the need to have an effective alien vegetation management plan in place.  

Re-naming of Peaks:  A move to re-name one of the prominent peaks in the Drakensberg after ex-President Mandela was brought to the attention of Cencom by the Kwa-Zulu Natal Section.  The Section requested guidance of MCSA policy in such matters.  Cencom in debating the issue did not consider the merits of either the peaks mentioned or of the distinguished person identified with proposed re-naming, but stuck to principle. 

Cencom has confirmed that the MCSA does not support the renaming of peaks in general and is wary in particular of attaching the names of any persons to such peaks. 

Journal Digitisation Project:  Attempts to get our Journals into digital format to facilitate search and access to material have run into copy right problems.  The funds allocated for digitisation will instead be used to digitise the Index sections of the Journals up to date until the copy right issue can be resolved. 

Meanwhile, to facilitate future moves in this direction and others within the organisation,  all authors for the 2010 edition will be requested to cede copy right to the MCSA.  Cencom has ruled that contributions may only be accepted from authors prepared to sign such an undertaking.  The undertaking binds the MCSA in its turn not to use any such contributions for material gain. 

MCSA 125th Anniversary:  Cencom has confirmed that, rather than celebration the club’s 120thAnniversary which falls in 2011, attention will be focussed on its more significant 125th birthday in 2016.  Suggestions on how best to celebrate this event will be welcomed but in the meantime Exco has been asked to investigate whether it may be feasible to host a meeting of the UIAA to mark the event. 

ANNUAL DINNER:

It was the turn of the Tygerberg Section to host the Annual MCSA Dinner and they arranged this to coincide with the Cencom meeting so that visiting Chairpersons could attend. 

The response from Chairpersons was good but support otherwise was a disappointment to the organisers who put a lot of trouble into the event, held in a restaurant in Belleville.  Perhaps the clashing attraction of a Stormers vs. Sharks rugby match was to blame but a turn out of less than 30 does not reflect well on a club with a membership of 4000.

Nevertheless, Tygerberg are to be congratulated on their choice of venue, their choice of Guest Speaker and on their general arrangements, all of which made for a very enjoyable evening. 

The host Section for the 2012 Dinner has still to be identified.

Dave Jones  -  5 April 2011

March 2011 –Leading up to the AGM

This will be the last contribution from the 2010 – 2011 MCSA President as his term of office comes to a close at the MCSA Central Committee AGM due to be held in Cape Town on 2 April.  However, the present incumbent of this position seems unlikely to escape as he has rashly agreed to stand for another year and his name is at this stage the only nomination received for election.

The Mountain Club, as all members will be keenly aware, is a powerfully federal body with a great deal of independence allowed each of our 14 Sections to run their own affairs.  This independence is a product of our long history following the founding of the club in Cape Town in 1891.  Other Sections were formed later as off-shoots of the original club or by independent clubs deciding to throw in their lot with the founding Section so as to have a united voice. 

Since it was Cape Town that first had the idea of forming a mountain club, only the third such club to be established after The Alpine Club in the UK and the New Zealand Alpine Club, they may justly be called our Senior Section.  With around 1700 voting members out of a total membership of about 4000, it is also our biggest Section but they do not always have things their own way when it comes to debate at the twice yearly meetings of the Central Committee.  This is because the MCSA constitution prescribes that the representatives for the Sections on the Central Committee shall be their Chairs, and one does not get elected into these positions unless you are pretty forceful with a mind of your own.

Actually, this federal structure has powerful advantages and debate especially on issues of policy at Central Committee (Cencom) meetings is vigorous and constructive so that, when necessary, the club speaks with a powerfully united voice.  As a national club with shared valued as defined in the “Objects of the Mountain Club of South Africa” and printed near the front of every Journal as a reminder, we have a unity of purpose which has gained us acceptance as a full-member federation of the International Union of Alpine Associations (UIAA) – currently the only such federation in Africa. 

March/April is a time of renewal in our club as most of the member Sections time their own AGM’s to take place before the Cencom AGM in April each year.  At the AGM,  which is generally a pretty short meeting followed immediately by the first Cencom business meeting of the year,  the Section representatives for the year are confirmed and introduced,  the financial statements for the past year are approved and accepted and an Executive Committee (Exco) for the coming year duly elected.   

Exco consists of three ex-officio positions for which written nominations must be received, and accepted, 45 days before the AGM.  These are the President, the Secretary and the Treasurer.  After election/confirmation of these three positions a Deputy President and two other members are elected by nominations from the floor of sitting members in Cencom.   All hold office for only one year, until the next AGM, but in practice as long as they are up to the job and can find the time, especially so in the case of President, Secretary and Treasurer,  members of Exco often serve for longer in the interests of continuity. 

At the coming Cencom AGM there will be only one significant change in Exco. Gerhard van Wyngaardt, after serving extremely competently in this onerous position since April 2008, has indicated that pressure of work makes it impossible for him to continue.  Fortunately Jenny Paterson, who held this position before Gerhard took over, has been persuaded to come back into the role so there is not likely to be any serious disruption.  Lester Coelen who has been Treasurer for longer than most on Cencom can remember has agreed to stay on, as has the President who, if re-elected at the AGM, will begin his third year of office.  

Dave Jones  23 March 2011
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