Recently Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) has been under public scrutiny amidst speculations of what went wrong with the Safari Hunting evaluations which led to public dismissal of the five ZAWA top professionals by the Hon. Silvia Masebo.
We heard through government controlled tabloids that the process of selecting safari hunting companies for the 19 hunting blocks was fraudulent, corruptive to the core but is it true considering that the Hon Minister blocked the release of the evaluations and the public has been denied balanced information.
We are also aware that the Hon Minister of Tourism agrees that safari hunting is ZAWA’s core business and major income source of ZAWA hence tempering with it would entail disturbing the income base for ZAWA and consequences are obvious.
Given this situation, this writer took a keen interest of the events in ZAWA after close to three months of observation, did a situation analysis of the happenings at ZAWA and the findings are presented in this write up:
We will first focus on the evaluation of the safari hunting bids. ZAWA prepared the bid document which was advertised in the papers and over 80 hunting companies went for it. The bid document was cancelled by ZAWA with instructions from the Minister of Tourism, Madam Masebo just after taking over from Honorable Given Lubinda. This followed a safari hunting consultative meeting with stakeholders and Sandy’s Creation along Kafue Road which was held in September 2012. The meeting was chaired by Hon Silvia Masebo.
As a result of the Sandy’s Creation Stakeholders meeting, the cancelled ZAWA bid document was criticized and a committee was put together by Hon. Minister Silvia Masebo to prepare a fresh bid document with emphasis on
a) The technical side of safari hunting business
b) Those bidders whose bids passed a technical evaluation side would now qualify to go for the financial envelope.
Among notable figures tasked to prepare the bid document were Timothy Mushibwe, Keith Ashwood of Luangwa Crocodile Safaris, Barry Bellcross of Pro Hunt-Zambia and John Duploy of Muchinga Adventures Ltd. It should be mentioned here that all the people involved in the preparation of the bid document were interested parties:
Timothy Mushibwe was representing the interest of his former boss at Delloite George Sokota, the other three are established safari hunting operators who also participated in the tender and were privy to inside information and had an advantage over others that were not participants in the preparation of the bid documents.
It is this bid document which was now passed on to the applicants for safari hunting business. During preparations of the bid document, bidders were divided into three camps. One camp was for Dr. Guy Scott, our republican vice president who saw an opportunity for fellow whites to take over the hunting blocks. The whites made a united front and prepared the bid documents with support from The Vice President, Sylvia Masebo and Winter Kabimba. This made the clique of whites comfortable.
The second camp was for Indians who were and still not united and each one was for himself, no trust amongst themselves and gave each other stiff competition. Indians were also aware that they lacked political support, and were into a rough and tough battle for them to secure hunting blocks because their main challengers the whites were being supported by His Honor Vice President Dr. Guy Scott who also tugged them as racists and openly disparaged them. Hence Indians devised a winning strategy mainly by:-
a) Going into partnership with indigenous Zambians.
b) Hiring professional business plans writers
c) Gave in competitive financial bids.
The third camp was for indigenous Zambians who had silent support from the Minster of Tourism but she never wanted to make it too obvious realizing that The Vice President and Winter Kabimba wanted her to fulfill their mandate of giving hunting blocks to the white community.
COMPOSITION OF THE TECHNICAL EVALUATION TEAM
By law, powers to appoint an evaluation committee are vested into the Chief Executive of the Institution. In this case it was the ZAWA Director General by then Edwin Matokwani. In his managerial intelligence, appointed the following members to sit on the evaluation committee, Anti-Corruption Commission ACC, ZAWA, Office of the President, Tourism and a member of the Community Resources Board (CRB) from each hunting block. I wish to state that ZAWA by the wildlife law partners with communities in its Game management Areas to protect and manage the wildlife resource and also to share wildlife revenues. The partnership is through democratically elected local residents who form a CRB and a Patron of the CRB is the Chief of Area. By law a chief does not sit on the CRB but participates in the CRB deliberations through his / her own appointed representative. The CRB elected members hold in house elections to fill the function and positions of the CRB such as CRB Chair person and Vice Chairperson. Other positions are Resources Management Committee (RMC) Community Development Committee (CDC) and financial management Committee (FMC). All these committees are chaired and viced chaired by elected members of the CRB. Simply put a CRB works on the same principles like parliament and parliament ally committees are like sub-technical committees of the CRB.
Internal information and correspondence from ZAWA indicated that some CRB Chairpersons and Chiefs were targeted by the bidders who solicited favors so that their companies were selected in exchange of valuable materials and cash. Concerned citizens of the community in GMAs and some humble Zambians who wanted to penetrate the hunting industry wrote to the Director General requesting him not to involve the CRB Chairpersons or Chiefs because most of them were already compromised. It is for this reason that the ZAWA Director General opted to not to involve the Chiefs and CRB Chairpersons but instead directed that the Resource Management or Community Development Chairpersons join the evaluation team.
This was the beginning of problems for the Director General because:-
a) Some Chiefs and CRB Chairpersons had already chewed inducement funds for corruption and were also promised a lot should they manage to manipulate the final selection in their favor. The Minister of Tourism had endorsed the participation of Chiefs and CRB Chairpersons through the resolution that were passed at Sandy’s Recreation Indaba.
b) Minister of Tourism needed to deliver to her bosses Dr. Guy Scott and Winter Kabimba by ensuring that the best hunting blocks no matter what are allocated to Guy Scotts fellow Muzungu’s.
It is clear that at this point the Hon. Minister of Tourism needed someone as Director General who she could easily manipulate and Edwin Matokwani was not such a man in that position. Through her advisors Timothy Mushiwe and Yousuf Zumla among others, she resorted to intimidation, threats and orders to ZAWA Directors in a bid to find a weakness which she could easily use to satisfy her ego and those of her masters.
Hon. Silvia Masebo reacted emotionally when she was presented with the results. She castigated the evaluation team members who had gone to her office to present evaluation results. She accused them of having received billions of Kwacha’s from Indians not whites or blacks yet some of the prime hunitng blocks as you can see went to whites and indigenous black Zambians. She categorically told them that she personally could not accept the results. She asked them to write their names because she needed also to consult her superiors on the way forward. Here it’s obvious that her superiors she meant Dr. Guy Scott and Winter Kabimba. The time she got back to ZAWA it was through a press conference where she dismissed them and cancelled the tender.
An added outcome was the constitution of the ZAWA board headed by a white farmer with less than 100 game animals on his ranch Guy Robnson. The ZAWA board has an added committee called Community and Wildlife headed by Mrs. Guy Scott. The Audit and investigations Committee of ZAWA has a Mr. Barry Bell Cross as a member who is also a safari operator with a vested interest in safari hunting. We have the finance Committee of the ZAWA Board headed by Timothy Mushiwe.
Timothy Mushiwe in the corporate world is a known opportunist whose priorities are always wrong and costly to fix in a long run. Mr. Mushiwe worked for Delloite and was one of the Zambian share holders. He was fired then because he under declared the dividends to the main branch in South Africa.
Mr. Mushiwe was one of the key consultants which transformed National Parks and Wildlife Services into ZAWA. He is part of ZAWA problems because the problems were created at the beginning. For Example, Mr. Mushiwe created an autocratic layer within ZAWA called ZAWA Regions, four in total and headed by the Regional Managers. The idea sounded good but later ZAWA realized that the the layer of ZAWA region Managers was superfluous because it was a dumping ground for wildlife qualified and competent personnel while head office positions were meant to be shared by the selfish members of the consultant team including Timothy Mushiwe Himself. This is the same person who Silvia Masebo trusts so much and positioned him as her wildlife advisors.
His reputation at Deloitte was full of intimidation and no room for errors and corrections. He never followed the disciplinary code of conduct. Any small problem he believes in firing. No wonder, the five ZAWA officers were dismissed without following the ZAWA code of conduct and correct procedure.
CURRENT SITUATION AT ZAWA
ZAWA head office and outstations stations managers and supervisors are on a daily basis being intimidated, threatened with demotions, transfers and termination of contracts. (Watch the space) yet these are same officers who move the management system to ensure wildlife is protected.
There is a serious repercussion on salaries. January salaries were paid to junior officers only in the second week of February while senior staffs have not been paid yet. No hope for February Salaries.
No statutory funds were remitted like to NAPSA, PAYE, ZAWA pension funds and banks which ZAWA staff owes money. Nothing has changed.
ZAWA is headed by grandpa, Zen Vlahakis who is a pure string-puppet master, does not care what happens next provided he is paid his dues. Mr. Vlahakis is compiling a thesis with no title. Every ZAWA managers have to write their position paper which is a waste of time and going nowhere. Mr. Vlahakis tells ZAWA managers that they belong to the waste basket and it’s a matter of time.
The ZAWA board members are fragmented with dotted interests and agendas. Each board member is busy harassing ZAWA managers with without passing through the Director General. Other Board Members have secured an office at ZAWA and calls ZAWA managers at random to interrogate them to order them to submit this information.
Any Senior ZAWA officers who seem not to toll their line is a subjected to private investigation into his past hoping to identify dirty linen and use it as a leverage for dismissal.
Some board members like Barry Belcross, Mr. Mitta have a personal interest to secure hunting blocks when the tender comes up again.
Mr. Mitta is also an ally to people like David Cummings and Yousuf Zumla who in the past evaded settling his bill with ZAWA over US$200,000. He has continued to do so because he is being defended by Mr. Mitta on the board and putting pressure on ZAWA to erase Ana Tree lodge and Msoro outstanding concession fees both belonging to Mr. Zumla.
Since December 2012, ZAWA has not remitted funds to its Area Management Units for Anti-Poaching as such the area management units do not have food for anti-poaching, funds for fuel and to keep anti-poaching vehicles running. Consequently poaching is very high in our wildlife estates.
Concerned ZAWA employee