Itezhi Tezhi Member of Parliament, Twaambo Mutinta, has welcomed the US$20 million agreement between the government and African Parks for the management and protection of Kafue national park.
According to Mr. Mutinta, the agreement can stimulate socio-economic development and other opportunities if properly implemented.
“The partnership can deliver more investment, socio-economic development, and biodiversity value,” Mr. Mutinta said.
The Member of Parliament has meanwhile complained that the Itezhi Tezhi community has for a long time not benefited from natural resources the area is endowed with.
He said the community was therefore looking forward to a new management system of the Kafue national park that will not only guarantee wildlife protection and conservation but also bring about meaningful community benefits in the district.
Mr. Mutinta has also advised African parks to demonstrate full disclosure of the agreement to traditional leaders and use a consultative approach in the new management of the Kafue national park in order to increase ownership and manage any potential community tensions.
“The community will be eager to see that the signed agreement is fulfilled, as well as the prioritised projects, which include road improvements, community facility development, communications network upgrades, the creation of 150 permanent jobs, and an increase in law enforcement salaries, as well as corporate social responsibility (CSR) and governance accountability,” Mr. Mutinta said.
Meanwhile, traditional leaders in the Itezhi Tezhi district are happy with the management agreement which has been entered into between the government and African Parks to manage the Kafue National Park.
Chief Musungwa described it as a positive step that will benefit the parks.
He however advised African Parks to adequately engage the relevant stakeholders in order to address any potential gaps in the agreement.
“They need to fully disclose the agreements so that we as traditional leaders know the benefits and can advise where we believe it is not right,” chief Musungwa said.
He added that chiefs are currently unaware of the details of the agreement.
“We do not know how they will handle game capture. These are the things they need to engage us on,” chief Musungwa said.
On July 1, 2022, the Zambian government and the conservation non-profit organization African Parks announced the signing of a 20-year agreement for the Kafue national park, describing it as a landmark commitment to secure the protection and effective management of one of Africa’s ten largest national parks.