Saturday, February 10, 2007

World Bank funded reports...

The Zambia representative of the World Bank must surely realize that if you pay for a study commissioned by a government department that the Bank has a responsibiity to ensure that the consultants are qualified, that wide-ranging consultations are undertaken within civil society and that the report does not serve an end which is clearly not in the nation's interest. In the case of this study clearly none of this occurred; therefore the Bank must take it on the chin. When I questioned the revolutionary conclusion of the consultant that all customary land should in future fall under the Ministry of Lands, saying that the House of Chiefs were not represented at the meeting, nor the cross-sectoral Natural Resources Consultative Forum, adding that the consultation process appeared to have been engineered to ensure that there was no opposition to such extraordinary conclusions, the two Bank representatives said they would ensure that this was done before handing in the report. This was smoke and bones as they did not ensure further consultations were carried out; therefore they lied to the Zambian public and should be disciplined by the World Bank Group's Institutional Integrity Department (INT). After all, what is corruption.

And in the case of the Bank funded review of the Zambia Wildlife Authority's strategic plan, when I pointed out glaring errors in the draft report as well as the serious omission of any mention in the accounts of disbursements made to rural communities, nothing was done to rectify the matter in the final report. And the Bank is aware that as a result of payment shortfalls based on income from hunting safaris , wildllife protection in rural areas is severely impaired and elephant poaching and the illegal bushmeat trade on the rapid increase.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Chief Kasempa complains of the lack of benefits from tourism in his area

While Chiefs are supposed to receive 5% of the hunting concession and trophy fees earned from safari hunting and paid to ZAWA, this percentage may be changed by the Minister of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources under the Wildlife Act Part 3:6(6). Therefore the Chief Kasempa should take his case to his area M.P. - who is the Minister, to have this changed.

In 2002 a CRB/ZAWA workshop agreed to share revenues as follows: 45% CRBs, 5% Chiefs, 40% ZAWA, 10% Central Treasury - however this only applied to animal trophy fees and was implemented for the seasons 2002-2004. A committee of ZAWA administrators and 7 CRB Chairmen then met at the end of 2004 and decided to share concession fees: CRBs 15%, Chiefs 5%, ZAWA 80%. At the end of 2006, CRBs insisted on 50% of concession fees, 5% going to the Chief. Numerous complaints are building up from CRBs who say they have not been paid what is owed them, nor given proper accounting. As a result many village scouts are owed salaries, and little , if any money has been made available for community development.

One of the hunting concessions within Chief Kasempa's area, Lunga Busanga, in the hands of the company
African Experience Safaris (in the Northern Kafue – a Secondary area). On the sudden departure from Zambia of the owner of African Experience Safaris, Ed Smythe, a meeting was held in Kasempa on 4 My 2006 between ZAWA and some of its board members, CRB representatives in the Lunga Busanga area, the local chief (Senior Chief Kasempa), a House of Chiefs representative and a Kasempa District Council representative. The purpose of the meeting was to re-allocate the concession ‘administratively’ rather than put it out to tender, the latter being the normal and accepted procedure so as to avoid any hint of corruption. Tom Mushinge, the then Commercial Director of ZAWA, stated that in this case they would like the local community to decide on who would be chosen to take up the concession, and that the CRB could not take on the hunting concession themselves – as they had already applied to do. A ZAWA Board member (Sikongo) said that the concession had been removed because Smythe had breached various hunting regulations, “such as failure to honour community pledges, hunting without Escort Scouts, over shooting the quotas, no respect to traditional authority, etc”, though no mention was made that the necessary procedures, as laid out in the lease agreement, and put there to protect the partners, had been followed. Such charges are, under the circumstances, not convincing; many safari companies suffering similar charges.

The Kasempa CRB put forward four companies that had expressed an interest in taking up the concession:
• TEA – ECO Systems Limited
• C.K. Scientific Group Zambia Limited
• Mukata Zulu and Associates
• Royal Zambezi Wildlife Safaris

Senior Chief Kasempa objected to Royal Zambezi on the grounds that Chieftainess Chiawa was a shareholder and he did not think it proper that a chief from another area should take up a concession in his area. However, ZAWA stated that Royal Zambezi was suitable, and supported by the District Councilor and the House of Chiefs representative, this motion was adopted. They then called in the operator (Reynolds) to negotiate on pledges and concession fees, a further break from normal procedure, as in an ‘administrative’ re-allocation it would be expected that the original lease agreement would be adhered to. Nevertheless, Reynolds proposed a concession fee of $24 000, the CRB representative countered with $25 000, and this was agreed. Then the operator’s representative pledged the sum of $10 000 to the CRB, to be paid every season. This was accepted. Then the CRB requested that meat be issued, as did the District Council, and this was accepted.

It is highly irregular to make a cash pledge to a CRB given that the purpose of pledges is to see that the community benefit from hunting. It is likely that this payment will be distributed between the members of the CRB and the chief, with nothing going to the community whom they represent. One of the reasons put forward for giving this concession to the Chieftainess Chiawa safari group – Royal Zambezi Safaris, stems from their hunting operations in the Chiawa GMA where they have been hunting up and around the game lodges. At the time, the Chieftainess was the acting Chairman of the ZAWA Board. Royal Zambezi Safaris are still hunting in the area.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Zambia conservation:light and dark...

January of 2007 started with a truce meeting between government, rural communities and safari operators. The door was open we were told for a new beginning. The optimists (the minority) opted for immediate meetings with the 'Big Men'; the skeptics counseled a waiting period - the wise hunter approach; the cynics said that the "Big men' were merely playing for time so that they could enter the land of free speech in peace. Well, the optimists engaged and were told some rather brazen porkies; the skeptics proved to be right; the cynics, knowing full well the price of everything but the value of nothing, said that honesty and service to the nation is not an endemic concept and therefore one should expect nothing. Those of us in the first group took a rare old pasting. However, I called in to the office of the Chairman of th Zambia Wildlife Authority Board today, finding him newly returned from his trip to Washington and the hunting convention in Reno in company with Minister Pande and Dr Saiwana, the head of the Zambia Wildllife Authority. He urged me to be patient, that he would be arranging a series of meetings soon for all concerned in Zambia to discuss such matters as the auctioning of elephant hunting permits, which the Natural Resources Consultative Forum had advised should not be done, and were ignored. What is in his favour, Walusiku Lisulo, that is, is the fact that he is an architect and he knows something therefore of project management and the dangers of building on sand. Let us wait in the company of skeptics.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Dark deeds in darkest Africa…by I.P.A. Manning

The issuing of a deportation order by the Zambian Minister of Home Affairs for the summary removal of a significant foreign conservation investor in Zambia, Ross Michelson, is cause for concern. He has allegedly – according to the Immigration Department, contravened the immigration laws on a number of occasions, though as the owner of a game ranch, a hunting safari company and a water drilling company it is unlikely that his immigration and investor status is the reason for Government wanting him out. I am reminded unpleasantly here of the dark days of the Kaunda regime when people were sent packing on the whim of an official.

Michelson, the former Chairman of the Game Producers’ Association of Zambia, has made a significant contribution to the nurturing of the game ranching industry in Zambia. His problem is that he has locked horns with a powerful grouping of anti-western elements, as have I, who have used their political muscle to have him removed, leaving the field free to take his game ranch and his hunting company, doubtless soon to be issued to one of the grouping, ‘administratively’.

The pressure has been relentless: the reporting to State House by one of the anti group that he, I, a senior member of the main opposition party and two others had met for lunch to plot the overthrow of the ruling party and the destruction of the maize stocks of Zambia; Chief Nyalugwe (where Michelson’s ranch is located, and where my hunting company operates) being taken by one of the anti group to see the Director General of the Zambia Wildlife Authority(ZAWA) to ask him to close us down, then on to State House where he made a request of the President for our deportation on the grounds that we had been calling animals with ‘louder speakers’. Then Michelson had his hunting concession closed down without due legal process, again on the grounds of calling animals with loud speakers, and of overshooting his hunting quota by one animal, none of them proven or sufficient grounds to take such draconian action; and his brother, Greg, had his professional hunters’ license removed – again without due process being followed. Of course, Michelson obtained an injunction and got the area back, but letters have appeared on hunting websites in America and South Africa, with contradictory statements made by ZAWA, and damage done to his business and Zambia. Of course, he, like I, have complained to the Americans and South African market, which is our right to do. But the Minister in charge of tourism and wildlife has taken exception to these e-mails, warning the US Fish & Wildlife Service and Safari Club International that some operators are up to no good, calling at the same time for the Americans to allow the import of ivory from sport hunting – something we have all opposed. And on the 3rd January he said that those foreign operators who continued to criticize Government, would be asked to leave the country. And what do the anti group say now; the notice is in the post, they will say, bwana!

All of this is part of a resurgence of anti-foreign investor bashing – not so much against the big chaps (who did what Rhodes’ emissaries did years earlier) with their mines which pollute but are not fined, but against us little chaps with our safari companies and our worn out gari-motos dealing with the wild-horse exchange rate mechanism, fuel shortages and fuel price increases unhinged from reality, threats by Government and opposition alike to send us to join the 12,000 suffering buggers in the Lusaka jail for crimes of casualization of labour, and threats of deportation by the Immigration Department if we don’t provide the full $500,000 now required to have our self-employed permits renewed – a totally illegal edict.

What is going on here? From where floweth this spring of antipathy?

The time is long past for donors, particularly our own mother countries, to say enough is enough: if you take our aid, if you agree to the proposals of the Commission for Africa and if you accept the debt write-off offered by our countries at the Gleneagles G8 meeting, then certain standards are required. And don’t call us imperialists; don’t lay the blame on the West for the corruption which places Zimbabwe and Zambia in the top 11 most corrupt places on earth, don’t blame the West for the poverty caused by poor governance – horrifyingly revealed in the Transparency International Zambia facilitated analysis of the Auditor-General’s reports which found that, since independence, only 16% of national government expenditure went on health, education, agriculture and local government, and that over the last 20 years almost a years’ worth of that expenditure was stolen or unaccounted for. And what about the fact that more was spent on traditional ceremonies than on agriculture; that 38% went on Presidential state visits. It is time for some honesty and truth.

I.P.A. Manning
Mbeza Safaris Ltd
Corporate Member: Business Action for Africa

Ross Michelson order of deportation issued for allegedly...

Immigration Department deports British businessman

Zambia Times 1 February 2007

A 46-YEAR-OLD Briton has been deported for allegedly contravening immigration laws.
Immigration Department spokesperson, Mulako Mbangweta, said in Lusaka yesterday that Michaelson Mathew Ross, proprietor of Leopards Ridge Company and Gatewell Limited that drills boreholes in Lusaka, was deported after investigations instituted recently. Ms Mbangweta said it was the opinion of the ministry of Home Affairs that the presence of Mr Ross was likely to be a danger to the peace and good order of Zambia. Mr Ross was deported under Section 269 (2) of the Immigration and Deportation Act. The order followed investigations and several warnings issued against him. Ms Mbangweta said the Immigration Department would not hesitate to deal with any person found contravening immigration laws and added that it was saddening that some foreigners were abusing the hospitality they enjoyed in Zambia