A SAFARI operator has threatened to drag to court Environment and Tourism minister Francis Nhema for granting a lucrative hunting and photographic concession to a fellow Zanu PF official wit
hout going to tender.
Bagman Sibanda of Striped Safaris (Pvt) Ltd, through his legal representatives Coghlan and Welsh, wrote to Nhema last week raising issue with a hunting concession granted by the Parks and Wildlife Authority to Zanu PF Matabeleland North chairman, Jacob Mudenda. Nhema allegedly approved the deal.
“We are instructed that Treasury Regulations were flouted when Mudenda was granted the concession as it was never put to tender,” reads a letter sent to Nhema from Striped Safaris legal counsel, Coghlan and Welsh, last week.
“In the circumstances, our client challenges the validity of the contract and should you be unable to agree with us on that point, we have instructions to bring an application to court.”
The Zimbabwe Independent understands that the concession, Matetsi Unit 6, which was not put to tender was issued to Mudenda inappropriately. Several other concessions are believed to have been allocated to top Zanu PF officials in an unprocedural manner.
Information at hand indicates that the Parks and Wildlife Authority entered an agreement with Mudenda on June 18 last year where the hunting rights over the safari area were granted to the ruling party official. Nhema duly approved the agreement on June 26.
According to Section 37 of the Parks and Wildlife Act Chapter 20:14, the wildlife management authority, subject to Environment and Tourism minister’s approval, has the power to grant hunting rights but such rights should be put to tender to afford other competitors a fair chance to participate and to also allow the authority an opportunity to make an award to the most attractive bid.
The Independent was told that Striped Safaris has pursued hunting rights for Matetsi Unit 6 for several years and has submitted a number of project proposals and applications to the relevant authorities but it has been repeatedly turned down. Each time the safari operator applied, it was advised that the concession was being leased to an indigenous safari operator when evidence on the ground was to the contrary.
Quoting Section 6 of the State Liabilities Act, the letter from the company’s lawyers gives Nhema notice of Striped Safaris’ intention to bring an application to the High Court for an order nullifying the award of Matetsi Unit 6 concession to Mudenda without following tender procedure. Reached for comment, Nhema said: “I will send you a full list of who was allocated what, including Striped Safaris. In fact, I have tasked the National Parks to look into that issue. But everything was done above board.”
The Independent understands that several aggrieved businesspersons and safari operators who had hoped to get concessions in the parks and wildlife areas in Matabeleland North are also instituting legal proceedings against Nhema over the allocation of concessions to government officials.
Two months ago, another safari operator, Nyala Safaris, instituted legal action against Nhema for allocating a lucrative hunting concession to one Mabel Dete, again without going to tender.