The decision by Tourism and Arts minister Sylvia Masebo to cancel safari hunting license and ban hunting has critically crippled Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) financial standing resulting into ZAWA failing to pay monthly salaries for its employees, a senior official in ZAWA has said.
“As a result of Masebo banning hunting, ZAWA has lost on revenue and because of her decision, ZAWA is more into deeper financial problems. It’s true that ZAWA has had problems but her decision has greatly affected our operations. As I am speaking to you right now we have not been able to pay January salaries,” the source said.
The sources said that only a few employees, particularly those in national parks are the ones that have been paid owing to the revenue collected from park fees. Among the areas where some employees have been paid were in areas like South Luangwa national park where they collect park fees.
“Some of our scouts are paid from park fees but the majority of our staff have not been paid. Such a thing has never happened in ZAWA in the last 10 years or so,” said the source.
As a result, he said that poaching in most of that game parks has been on the rise claiming that just last week, an elephant was shot in chieftains Chiawa’s area.
“An elephant was killed last week and the game ranger was asked to investigate but his response to us was shocking. He said I have not been paid and there is nothing that I can do. If this situation is not addressed soon, the levels of poaching in the country will be alarming,” said the source.
The source said that Masebo was hurting the tourism industry and the earlier president Sata fires her the better. He complained that after the cancellation of tenders and firing of top management at ZAWA, there has been calls from stakeholders that are tribunal be set up to investigate Masebo but to date, no action has been taken.
“Its like the president has gone to sleep, in the interest of the nation, let president Sata take action. Masebo should put the interest of the nation above her personal interest. She banned hunting and cancelled the tenders because of her corrupt activities. Even the board that she has appointed is full of her friends and they will certainly dance to her tune,” said the source.