3 January 2013

Zambia: ZAWA Probe to Spread to All Units

INVESTIGATIONS into corrupt practices will be extended to all Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) units after a purge at the head office.

Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo said a combined team of investigative wings were conducting a search at the ZAWA head office in Chilanga to collect documentation relating to alleged corrupt practices in the issuance of hunting concessions.

The minister said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that more ZAWA officers would be dismissed following reports of corruption.

Five senior ZAWA officials, including director general Edwin Matokwani, were on Sunday dismissed for alleged corrupt practices.

Others who were dropped were acting director conservation Melody Zeko, acting commercial director Rose Chivumba, acting director finance Andrew Sampa and head of procurement Taulino Banda for allegedly corruptly awarding 13 hunting concessions to a family cartel.

Ms Masebo said a combined team of Zambia Police Service, Anti-Corruption Commission, and Drug Enforcement Commission had moved into the ZAWA Chilanga head office to collect files relating to the alleged corrupt practices.

She said she had received more than 200 phone calls and 300 short messages (SMSs) countrywide informing her of more illegal practices in ZAWA.

"The current status at ZAWA is that a combined team of investigative wings has moved into ZAWA head office collecting relevant files pertaining to some of the issues I raised to enable them carry out investigations," Ms Masebo said

When asked about a complaint by Mr Matokwani that she fired him without writing to him, she said her move was strategic because she did not want to be "dribbled" at the expense of protecting the country.

Ms Masebo said that in as much as it was necessary to give an affected person a hearing, at times one needed to be strategic like she did.

"I think the way I proceeded is the best but that does not stop anybody aggrieved from taking action because there are many avenues one can use if aggrieved.

"From the time I took that move, I have received over 300 SMSs and over 200 phone calls countrywide all saying my move is long overdue," Ms Masebo said.

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