Sunday, November 19, 2006


I. P. A. Manning
19 November, 2006.

The present imbroglio concerning the issue by the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) of a 75 year Tourism Concession Agreement on 220 ha. in the Mosi oa Tunya National Park – part of the Victoria Falls World Heritage Site, to a vigorously assertive black empowerment company, Legacy Holdings Limited, and its plans to build a golf estate in the middle of it, stirs the nation.

It is now clear that the lease is without legal foundation, and that the proposed development would, in Legacy’s own words in its 360 page Environmental Impact Statement, remove all the natural vegetation and result in irreversible ecological damage. It is, in short, an impending natural and national disaster as it would destroy the Park, destroy the Victoria Falls World Heritage Site, drive away tourists and investors, and destroy the credibility of ZAWA, the Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ) and the Government itself.

Zambia, as never before, has suddenly become aware of the environment; not just the natural resources: the wildlife, the forests, lakes and rivers, but the state of the environment. The recent closure of the Konkola Copper Mining Company’s operations due to its continuing pollution of its surrounds, the news that Kabwe is one of the ten most polluted places on earth, the sufferings of the poisoned poor, ensures that the ECZ and the myriad Government ministries, departments and statutory bodies responsible for the environment now have to place its well-being at the forefront of all they do. Therefore they need, as a matter of extreme urgency, to ratify the draft National Policy on the Environment (NPE), and build the ECZ into a formidable institution able to implement it – fully supported by the Natural Resources Consultative Forum (NRCF) and the National Movement Against Corruption (NAMAC).

There is growing impatience within civil society, among donors, rural communities and Government for the attainment of the UN Millennium Development Goals through sound environmental and natural resource use. The clarion call by the Minister of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources (MTENR) for funding for an Institutional Framework and Action Plan for inter-sectoral implementation under the auspices of the MTENR, and in line with the National Decentralisation Policy, 2003, underlines the crucial importance of the NPE, buttressed by the appropriate legislation and regulations. This will help attain and ultimately secure the goal of development without destruction.

No comments: