Monday, January 07, 2008

CRBs should account for money received from ZAWA - Levy

By Zambia Times Reporter

PRESIDENT Mwanawasa has directed Tourism, Environmental and Natural Resources Minister, Michael Kaingu to ensure that there is accountability in the usage of the money the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) was paying to the Community Resource Boards (CRBs). Every quarter of the year, ZAWA retains 50 per cent of the money it raises from the issuance of the hunting licences in the game management areas, of which 45 per cent is given to the CRBs while five per cent is given to traditional leaders. Dr Mwanawasa said at a public rally in Mambwe District on Saturday that the ministry should account for how the money was being used. “95 per cent of the money ZAWA pays to the CRBs should be used for the provision of social services to the people living near the National Parks,” he said. The President noted that Mambwe District has been experiencing perennial drought which usually devastates many crops and wondered why the money ZAWA was paying the CRBs was not being used to lessen some of the burdens brought about by the floods. He said the money ZAWA was paying to the CRBs was meant to improve the lives of the people living in the national parks. Meanwhile, Dr Mwanawasa took a swipe at traditional leaders for misleading him that ZAWA was not retaining their five per cent allocation. “During my stay here, some Chiefs approached and asked me to assist them acquire their five per cent allocation which they claimed ZAWA has not been giving them. But when I called my minister and ZAWA officials they showed me the cheques that have been cut for the chiefs,” he said. The president said when he called back the chiefs they did not give him a satisfactory answer to the reason they had misled him.

Dr Mwanawasa said there would be no development if the traditional leaders could not be trusted any more.


The President is right to require accountability for ZAWA payments to CRBs - and their use by CRBs. As a partner investor in a Hunting Concession Agreement with ZAWA and CRBs in West Petauke, I have long called for transparent accounting by way of a published public audit - something not forthcoming. And CRBs, comprising unpaid villagers, cannot be blamed for a lack of administrative support and guidance by ZAWA, or of the fact that some chiefs simply help themselves to the funds. The Wildlife Act of 1998 has placed chiefs in an unenviable position in their customary areas by creating elected CRBs, with the chief as mere Patron of the CRB. This was designed to remove chiefs from decision making - a grave error. Chiefs cannot be removed from decision making in this manner. The whole CRB scheme is in need of complete overhaul, but ZAWA do not wish this, having turned down just such proposals in the past.

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