Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A truce and other things...

The Editor
The Post,
I refer to the Saturday Post, January 20, 2007: "Pande asks Safari operators to leave if they are not ready to operate within the law" which quoted various sources as to what was said at the recent stakeholder truce meeting held on 3 January between the Minister, ZAWA, safari operators and community representatives. As this newspaper finds its way deep into the hinterland, and as the sources appear not to have made careful notes of what was said, allow me my ngwes’ worth – being guided as I am by a fellow director present with me at that meeting, as well as two senior members of the community where we operate. Pande said foreign operators who continued to criticise Government without bringing their complaints first to its door would be asked to leave the country – not the sector; when Pande questioned casualization, I replied that casualization needed to be discussed between the stakeholders as it was a reaction of the market to prevailing economic conditions and an investor unfriendly Labour Act, and that much of the tourism industry was seasonal in nature and therefore employed many workers for part of the year; I stated that in my company’s case – purchased to support a community development scheme, large profits were illusory; Pande directed the Safari Hunting Operators Association to reflect all racial sectors of the industry – though the fact that only 50% of a racially mixed industry have joined as members is hardly the fault of the Association. However, Pande never mentioned anything at the meeting about action being taken against operators for being allegedly involved in illegal activities such as overshooting and ‘using loud speakers to attract lions before shooting them down’. This source obviously therefore intends mischief. There is a case coming before the Supreme Court which has its roots in the intemperate remarks of a former DG of ZAWA in which he accused some operators of overshooting their quotas by a few animals, saying they were criminal acts; patent nonsense of course as operators hunt legitimately in the field – and no such ‘criminal acts’ have as yet been proven. On the charge that some operators used ‘loudspeakers to call lions’, one of such charges – directed by Chief Nyalugwe against myself, Dr Guy Scott and others, being laid by Chief Nyalugwe at State House under malign influence, I can only say that I have never hunted in Nyalugwe’s country, and as far as I am aware, Scott only hunts political prey, admittedly occasionally using loudspeakers.
Ian Manning.

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