Mulobezi community worried about cancelled hunting concession READ
THE Moomba community in Mulobezi is worried that with the cancellation of safari hunting concessions by the government, animals in the Game Management Area (GMA) risk being depleted by poachers.
Speaking on behalf of the community, chief Moomba’s son Gabriel told The Mast that they did not want to experience a similar sad situation they had about 22 years ago when government cancelled hunting.
‘’Our main worry is on how the GMA will be depleted, which we have had an experience before in the year 2000 to 2003 when there was no hunting and operations were not good; so, we lost many animals in the area due to poaching. We think even this time it will come to the same story,’’ he said. ‘’The CRBs will also be affected because the [Community Resource Boards] CRBs make money from hunting revenues. So, immediately when the ban of hunting is effected, it means the CRBs have no money; even the community scouts are not going to be paid. Other projects there will come to a standstill, so it affects a lot.’’
Gabriel appealed to the government to reverse the cancellation and proceed with hunting.
‘’In Moomba community, our appeal is that if it is possible let hunting be awarded to the successful operators so that we continue with whatever we have been doing,’’ said Gabriel.
In April this year, Muhanga cancelled safari hunting concession agreements signed in 2020, against the advice of Attorney General Mulilo Kabesha, as the hunting season opened on May 1, 2022.
Instead, he ordered a readvertisement of the same in his memorandum to director of national parks and wildlife in the Ministry of Tourism Dr Chuma Simukonda dated April 22, 2022.
And on May 13, 2022, Muhanga terminated the contract for Dr Simukonda who is believed to have advised him against ignoring legal advice from the Attorney General.
According to the Attorney General’s advice in a letter dated January 5, 2022 addressed to President Hakainde Hichilema on tender No. MTA/SP/001/2020, there was nothing illegal about the tender and that cancelling it would attract law suits against the government.
“Your Excellency, I find it pertinent to make an appointment with you and explain the legal implications relating to the subject matter. Your Excellency, prior to meeting you [I] wish to bring it to your attention through this letter that I received a letter from the Ministry of Tourism and Arts reference No. MTA/54/14/2 dated 15th December, 2021 in which the Ministry was seeking a legal opinion on the cancellation of Hunting Concession Agreements (hereinafter referred to as ‘HCAs’,” Kabesha wrote. “The circumstances that engendered the opinion is attributed to your directive to the Minister and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism to the effect that the execution of the HCAs must be halted and that the negotiated HCAs must be cancelled.”
He cited formalities which prescribe a genuine hunting concession agreement and advised that once they are met then the tender remains legal.
Citing case law, Kabesha advised against cancelling the agreements as that would attract legal suits on government and subsequent loss of income through compensations to the affected parties.
“Your Excellency, once all these formalities are met, the contract or contracts come into being. According to the Procuring Entity all these procedures were met which resulted in the HCAs being approved,” explained Kabesha. “In the case of National Drug Company Limited and Zambia Privatisation Agency v Mary Katongo, the Supreme Court held that: ‘It is trite law that once the parties have voluntarily and freely entered into a legal contract, they become bound to abide by the terms of the contract and that the role of the court is to give efficacy to the contract when one party has breached it by respecting, upholding and enforcing the contract.’ In view of the cited case and in the absence of cogent evidence of infringement of section 69 (1), it becomes legally unsustainable to terminate the HCAs. Any attempt to effect will undoubtedly lead to law suits against Government which is striving to resuscitate the economy of the country and at the same time creating an enabling environment for investment and respect of the law. I humbly render my advice.”
Specifically, the affected hunting concession agreements include the following:
Musungwa and Shezongo Community Resources Board and JVZ Safaris Limited, relating to safari hunting rights in Nkala Hunting Block in Nkala game management area.
Nabwalya Community Resources Board and Kuwama Safaris Limited, relating to Safari hunting rights in Nabwalya Hunting Block in Nabwalya Game Management Area.
Malama and Kakumbi Community Resources Board and Kwalata Safaris Limited, relating to safari hunting rights in Lower Lupande Hunting Block in Lupande Game Management Area.
Chikwa Community Resources Board and Mopani Safaris Limited, relating to safari hunting rights in Chikwa Hunting Block in East Musalangu Game Management Area.
Mulendema Community Resources Board, Chibuluma Community Resources Board, Kabulwebulwe Community Resource Boards and Nedzo Safaris Limited relating to safari hunting rights in Mumbwa West Hunting Block in Mumbwa West Game Management Area.
Chifunda Community Resources Board and Kocango Safaris Limited relating to safari hunting rights in Chifunda Hunting Block in East Musalangu Game Management Area.
Several stakeholders, including good governance activist Brebner Changala, Socialist Party president Fred M’membe, acting PF president Given Lubinda, and State Counsel Sakwiba Sikota, have advised Muhanga against the cancellation, warning that government would pay heavily when bidders sue.
And on May 4, 2022, Muhanga wrote a letter officially informing all the bidders about the cancellation