Sunday 21st January 2018

President directed me, says Masebo

TOURISM and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo has said she was directed by President Michael Sata to dismiss top Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) management officials and take further action on the wrong happenings at the authority.
Ms Masebo told the Roydah Kaoma-chaired Tribunal yesterday that her ministry received a lot of complaints from various stakeholders about the wrong happenings at ZAWA which resulted in her consulting the President and other Government officials.
She said as minister in charge of ZAWA she had received reports of unbecoming conduct by the ZAWA management, but that she only took action after consulting the President.
“Upon consultation with the principal over the matter, I was given Government position. After submitting my report, I was directed on the course of action to take and I took that course of action,” Ms Masebo said.
She said before and during the tendering process, she had received several complaints from different people about the irregularities in the process and that despite her engagement with the former ZAWA top management to have the issues corrected, nothing good happened.
Ms Masebo said 60 per cent of the people who bid for the concessions lodged complaints to her accusing each other of doing wrong things.
The minister said there was a lot of hostility concerning the issue of tenders at ZAWA which were not in the interest of many ordinary Zambians.
Ms Masebo said the irregularities in the tendering process started at an early stage of advertising where the ZAWA management deliberately watered down the requirement for audited accounts for a bidder as one of the requirements.
She said this was a deliberate move by ZAWA management because they knew that most of the companies they wanted to win were not registered and were not paying tax, and as such they would not qualify.
She said she discovered after a presentation on ZAWA operations was given to her that if the Authority was a private institution, it would have been liquidated.
Ms Masebo said the management was weak and that only former director-general Edwin Matokwani was not in an acting position.
She said she also discovered that ZAWA did not meet its statutory obligations as it was unable to pay people and owed K2.4 million.
The ZAWA management, she said, was at the time more concerned with raising money for their salaries than protection of wildlife.
She said many junior workers in ZAWA were poorly remunerated.
Ms Masebo said it was also discovered that workers in the authority were related to each other, which resulted in an internal syndicate which was difficult to deal with.

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