Unpaid village scouts write complaint letter to Masebo

Dear editor,

Kindly publish this attached letter writen to the minister of tourism and art by the CRBs who gathered on 19th march for common ground. This letter has been submitted already to the Hon Minister by yesterday 22nd March 2013 and it is duly signed by all the CRBs Chairpersons and in the Lupande GMA Mambwe District.

Kind regards.

Concern Citizen

 

 LUPANDE COMMUNITY RESOURCES BOARDS

P.O.BOX 86

Mfuwe

19th March 2013

Hon Minister

Minister of Tourism and Arts

Kwacha House

P.O.Box 34011

Lusaka

 

Hon Minister,

 

RE:  NON PAYMENTS OF STAFF SALARIES AND CRBs OPERATION FUNDS

Reference is made to the above captioned matter.

We are writing today to complain over non payments of village scout salaries and Community Resources Boards (CRBs) operation funds by the government.

We wish to remind your office that of the two pronouncements you made to the Community Resources Boards (CRBs) both in 2012 and 2013 that none of these have been implemented up until this time.

Initially, at the wildlife consultative meeting held at Sandy’s Creations in Lusaka on 4th and 5th September 2012 you promised to pay the monies that Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) owed to the CRBs by December 2012 latest. Your promised approach of accountability and transparency, which all of the CRBs and their Royal Highnesses welcomed, was never implemented and no communication was forthcoming to the CRBs for any reasons for this failure.

Secondly, at the wildlife consultative meeting held at the Raddison Blu Hotel in Lusaka when the 2013 hunting ban was officially announced, your office promised that government would take responsibility for the payment of village scouts salaries and CRBs operation funds. Your office further promised that by the end of January 2013 these funds would be paid, more especially the salaries. This was a move and commitment by the government which at the time was wholeheartedly welcomed by the CRBs. We are highly disappointed by the government, therefore, that yet again from that time until now no village scout salaries and CRBs operation funds has been remitted to the CRBs whatsoever.

Following these circumstances, on several occasions the CRBs of our own volition have made follow ups by contacting ZAWA (beginning with its unities and ending up with ZAWA headquarters), but ZAWA have failed to provide us with proper feedback. They repeatedly told us that they also were waiting for the same funds, and that they did not know when the funds would be forthcoming from the government. Eventually, we contacted the Office of the Permanent Secretary of your ministry but she only referred us back to ZAWA. The reception we received from the Office of the PS was actually most unfriendly and created fear amongst us about continuing our quest to find out what had happened to the promised funds.

After pursuing all of the available channels to secure feedback and failing to make any progress, we have become naturally very disillusioned and our patience is spent. We have therefore decided to break our silence by writing to you at your office in the hope and expectation that we will finally get the feedback that we deserve and are entitled to. Our approach now to your office also reflects the extent of the difficulties, hardship, suffering and unstable kind of life that the CRBs village scouts are currently being forced to endure. As a direct result of the non-payment of funds owed by the government to the CRBs in a timely and regular manner, in addition to the fact that staple food has become scarce and expensive to secure for people living in poverty in rural areas, this has made CRBs employees’ lives miserable and a ‘living hell’. This situation is not only unacceptable and contravening human rights legislation but is contrary to the current government’s own labour policy with its promise of “more money in people’s pockets and timely payment of employee’s salaries”. Some CRBs employees have been unpaid for four months, others five months, six months and even more, something which is not expected to be happening.

CRBs employees have only managed to survive these last months on life survival skills and doing piece work, alongside their CRB duties, for other people in exchange for food. If you were to lower yourself sufficiently to come to see what is happening on the ground in our area you would see first-hand with your own eyes that it is a truly terrible situation the way CRBs employees are being forced to live currently. As CRBs members elected for the purpose of good governance and the implementation of community development programmes we feel helpless, guilty and ashamed when we see our own employees not being able to meet even the most basic of their needs such as securing their staple food, buying medicines when they and their family are sick, and sending their children to school. The frustrating and sad fact is that this is all because you and the government have not honoured your promises and responsibilities.

This has also sadly resulted in a slowdown of our operations in conducting anti-poaching patrols by the village scouts – without food the scouts do not have the energy to undertake patrols. As a consequence poaching is rising significantly day by day and the situation for wildlife is dire. Unless quick action is taken to get the village scouts back on patrol Zambia’s wildlife will be depleted at unprecedented rates, which is not only tragic for our natural heritage but for our safari tourism economy also. Without any exaggeration, poaching rates are now so high in the Luangwa Valley that international tourists on game drives will soon find wildlife difficult to view. This situation has huge impact on the future of Zambia’s tourism industry and on wildlife conservation moving forwards, as poachers swoop in as it is widely known in the community that the government has not disbursed funds to the CRBs and therefore normal operations of the CRBs are on hold, as are any development projects in the local community. Our animals are now being killed in large numbers as a direct result.

We still retain hope that this is not the way our current government wishes to conduct conservation business with the community. Your own ministry has worked very well in a number of areas and we are therefore hopeful that even for this current situation the government will act swiftly on receipt of our letter and affect a solution. We moreover stand with you and support your good decision of imposing a ban on trophy hunting in 2013 in order to resolve the various issues and conflicts surrounding the wildlife hunting sector in a responsible way for the future of Zambia, its people and wildlife.

We would request that the issue of the non-payment of CRBs village scout and employee salaries be treated by your office as a matter of agency, along with that for funding operations. We also request open and regular communications on the issues, so as not to be kept in the dark.

 

We trust this letter will not fall on deaf ears and therefore look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Board Chairperson                              Board Chairperson                                Board Chairperson

Mnkhanya CRB                                 Nsefu CRB                                     Jumbe CRB                                            

 

Board Chairperson                             Board Chairperson

Kakumbi CRB                                   Malama CRB                                   

His Royal Highness                             His Royal Highness                               His Royal Highness

Hon Chief Jumbe                                Hon Chief Mnkhanya                           Hon Chief Kakumbi

Jumbe Own Palace                         Mnkhanya Own Palace                     Kakumbi Own Palac

His Royal Highness                            His Royal Highness

Hon Chief Malama                            Hon Senior Chief Nsefu

Malama Own Palace                      Nsefu Own Palace

 

CC: Permanent Secretary – Ministry of Tourism and Art

CC: Permanent Secretary – Eastern Province

CC: Patrons – Their Royal Highnesses

CC: ZAWA Board – Chairman

CC: ZAWA – Director General

CC: ZAWA – Director Conservation

CC: ZAWA – GMA Manager

CC: ZAWA – Eastern Regional Manager

CC: Mambwe – District Commission

CC: ZAWA/SLAMU –  Area Warden

CC: ZAWA/SLAMU –  Extension Officer

CC: ZAWA/ SLAMU – CLAs

CC: Office of the President (OP)

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