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.

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