Wednesday, March 12, 2008

No permission needed to build at Vic Falls site, says Kaingu

By Mutale Kapekele and Namakau Nalumango
The Post Wednesday March 12, 2008

THERE is no need to get permission from Zimbabwe to build in the Victoria Falls heritage site joint management area, tourism minister Michael Kaingu has said.

And Kaingu has appointed a new national Museums Board to be chaired by Mubita Imukue.

Asked whether the ministry of tourism had consulted its Zimbabwean counterpart on the allocation of a plot to Legacy Holdings on the fringes of the joint management area, Kaingu said the plot was in Zambia and that his office had no explanations to make.

"Obviously you know where the boundaries of Zambia are, that land is in Zambia not in Zimbabwe, so why should we ask for permission?" he asked.

In October, the ministries of tourism in the two countries signed a joint management plan of the Victoria Falls world heritage site which stipulated that developments in the area had to be passed by both Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The Legacy Holdings plot lies in the buffer zone of the Victoria Falls world heritage area.

At the signing of the joint management plan last year National Heritage and Conservation Commission director of conservation services Kagosi Mwamulowe said the management plan was needed for UNESCO, Zambia and Zimbabwe to monitor the activities and state of conservation of the Victoria Falls world heritage site.

And Kaingu urged the new museums board to be innovative and raise own money instead of its looking to the government for everything.

He said although his ministry would fund them from time to time, it was not an ultimate responsibility for the government to provide funding to the museums.

"Museums world over are money spinners. Instead of the government funding them, they should be able to contribute to the treasury," he said.

And Imukue called for the repealing of the national museums Act as it catered for only four institutions.

"The Act only caters for Livingstone, Lusaka, Motomoto and the Copperbelt museums," Imukue said. "The other museums which are privately owned are not catered for. Therefore the National museums Act should be repealed and replaced with one that will embrace the rest of the museums."

Friday, December 21, 2007


I.P.A. Manning

Given that developers are in the process of establishing yet another tourism project in the Zambian portion of the Victoria Falls World Heritage Site (VF-WHS), with possible far-reaching impacts elsewhere, it is time to take stock.

This latest development, one already approved by the Zambian Wildlife Authority and the Forestry Department, but not yet the Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ), the National Heritage Commission, or UNESCO - who oversee the VF-WHS, is to import captive-bred lion from neighbouring Zimbabwe, to rear them in the Dambwa Forest on the outskirts of Livingstone, walk them with tourists in the adjoining Mosi oa Tunya National Park - while allowing the lion to hunt prey species there, then when the lion are older and a threat to tourists, to release them into the Zambian bush. All that is now required is for the ECZ to approve the EIA carried out by the developers and for the decision not to be overturned by the Minister of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources. This project reminds me of another controversial project in the Mosi oa Tunya, one still ongoing.

In January 2007, ECZ rejected an appeal by Legacy Holdings to construct two hotels, an 18-hole golf course and 450 villas in the Mosi oa Tunya in Livingstone, and requested that it review its master plan by building just the two hotels (later ECZ approved phase one of the construction of two hotels, one of which would be a five star hotel with 280 rooms and 40 suites).
 The reason ECZ restricted the proposed development was because it was to be implemented in a National Park and because it considered that the 220 ha of development would have a major negative impact on the National Park and on the VF-WHS. Legacy later made application to ECZ for approval of the revised plan for the second phase, wishing to complete phase one by 2010 in time for the World Soccer Cup. The last I heard was that Minister Kaingu of the Ministry of Tourism, Environment & Natural Resources was in discussion with Legacy over future plans, but to date I am not aware of any conclusion, nor has any new EIA been considered. In addition, the statement made to me by the Chairman of the Zambia Wildlife Authority Board that he had placed a moratorium on all new developments in the Mosi oa Tunya – and presumably the Dambwa Forest, should have put paid to all new projects until such time as the Victoria Falls Development Plan - compiled by UNESCO and IUCN, was reassessed.

The Environmental issues apart, my concern is with the disregard for due process. In the case of Legacy, the acting Director-General of ZAWA at the time, Gershom Chilakusha, acted illegally (pun intended) in awarding Legacy 220 ha on a 75 year lease – Legacy’s foundation stone being laid before the EIA was approved. In the lion project’s case, ZAWA issued the lion project (ALERT) an import permit for 19 lion before the EIA was approved, and the Forestry Department entered into an agreement with them over the use of the Dambwa Forest, both agreements requiring an EIA as is required in accordance with
the Environmental Protection and Pollution Control Act (Cap 204 of the
Laws of Zambia), Regulation 3 (1) of the Environmental Impact
Assessment (EIA) Regulations, Statutory Instrument No. 28 of 1997.

But there is more that is awry. The recent Zambia Auditor-General's report on parastatals for 2005, reports as follows:
“ Irregular Issue of Title Deeds in Mosi-O-Tunya National Parks. 

29. According to the provisions of the Act, ZAWA allocates sites in National Parks and 
Wildlife /Bird sanctuaries to successful bidders. The successful bidders are awarded 
a Tourism Concession Agreement (TCA). The TCA is a commercial agreement that 
regulates the conduct of the operators. It confers the rights and obligations of the 
concessionaire and grantor (ZAWA). An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) 
is prepared and approved by Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ) before the 
operator would proceed with the development of operations. 

However, it was observed that two operators namely Waterfront lodge and 
Maramba River lodge had been issued with title deeds in the Mosi-O-Tunya 
National Park. The title deeds for Waterfront have since been cancelled and a 
Tourism Concession Agreement was signed on 8th February 2005 for a period of 
twenty five (25) years. As of August 2006, the title deed for Maramba River lodge 
had not been cancelled and the Authority was not receiving any money from the 
lodge, as there was no agreement though the lodge operated in the National Park. 

Furthermore, there was no evidence of an Environmental Impact Assessment 
having been done for the above-mentioned lodges by the ECZ.”

So, given the lack of due process and accountability, what are UNESCO doing about their area of responsibility? And why do public-funded NGOs such as the African Wildlife Foundation – the latter active in the Zambezi and Livingstone area, continue to remain silent? And is the World Bank, supposedly funding the re-habilitation of Mosi and Livingstone’s environs bringing to bear some conditionality. Ordinary Zambians need to be aware that, apart from the admirable ECZ with their thumb in the dyke and some resolute members of the Livingstone branch of the Wildlife, Environment and Conservation Society of Zambia, the mice are taking over the shop.

Monday, October 08, 2007

State confers with Legacy...

Zambia Daily Mail, 1st Oct 2007

GOVERNMENT through the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources is having discussions with Legacy Holdings Zambia limited on the possibility the firm investing in Livingstone. Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources Minister, Micheal Kaingu, in an interview said discussions were taking place with the Legacy but declined to disclose details.
"When I say we are discussing, it means the matter is not yet conclusive. Giving you details on our discussions will be piecemeal, which is not good," he said.
Mr Kaingu said discussions with Legacy would take about two months and then Government would give a position on the matter.

In January this year, the Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ) rejected an appeal by Legacy Holdings to allow it construct two hotels with an 18-hole golf course and 450 villas in Livingstone.
Government restricted the proposed development in the Mosi-O-Munya national park because it was in a protected area, a pathway for elephants and was part of a world heritage site.
The ECZ asked Legacy to go back to the drawing board and review its master plan and only build two hotels without the villas and golf course.

Last month, Government approved phase one of the construction of the proposed two hotels one of which would be a five star hotel with 280 rooms and 40 suites.
But Legacy is awaiting Government approval for the revised plan for the second phase and wants to complete phase one by 2010 in time for the world cup.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Legacy gets green light

Sunday Mail

LEGACY Holdings Zambia Limited says Government has approved phase one of the construction of one of the proposed two hotels, one of which will be five star with 280 rooms and 40 suites.

But Legacy said its was still awaiting for Government’s approval of the revised plan for second phase but wants to complete phase one by 2010 in time for the World Cup.

The re-submitted plans were supposed to be in conformity with the Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ) ruling which denied the hotels group permission to construct a golf course and villas but approved the two

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Victoria falls threatened...

The National Heritage Conservation Commission says the weed which has invaded the Victoria Falls and Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is posing a serious challenge to tourism. Commission Executive Director, Donald Chikumbi, said the impact of the weed includes loss of floral and faunal eco-diversity and social-economic effects on the local communities. Mr. Chikumbi also said power generation at the ZESCO plant has also being affected by the weed.
He said the sensitive rainforests, wilderness and natural character of the Victoria falls are being threatened by the invasion and slowly being altered. Mr. Chikumbi was speaking when he officially opened the eco-system management plan consultative meeting for the invading alien species in tourist capital, Livingstone. He also disclosed that the World Heritage Committee has urged the Zambian and Zimbabwean governments, to address the invasion by the weeds at the world heritage site.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Early notes...

14 November, 06.

For anyone suffering from Afro-pessimism, one palliative is to visit the town of Livingstone, Zambia. Hear lies the warm heart of Africa where people of the rainbow meet in its myriad and quaint bars and restaurants, in its bush camps lying but a few minutes from the town limits, in its dusty crumbling streets, to exchange the pleasantries of human discourse; and to talk of Legacy.

The Legacy in question is a hotel group of the same name who have obtained from the Zambia Government a tourism concession of unprecedented size and duration in the Mosi oa Tunya National Park, part of the greater Victoria Falls World Heritage Site encompassing a 30 km radius of the Falls in Zimbabwe and Zambia. This area has, through the World Heritage Convention – supervised by UNESCO, achieved the highest protected status that man can afford the natural environment. Yet, on Monday of last week, UNESCO warned that due to the irresponsible development of the area, they might have to remove its WHS status, and in a very rare statement of defiance, that if the development of a massive 18 hole golf estate with two hotels and 500 houses were to be built in the Park, that they would mount a worldwide campaign to encourage tourists not to visit there.

Of course, there are permissions of one sort or another to be obtained for this sort of development, though Legacy clearly believed that this was a formality, organizing tZambia’s Veep to lay a foundation stone for the future development before the Livingstone Town Council and all the other appropriate authorities had approved the project. And now, supposedly the last hurdle, here was the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) hearing held on Saturday the 11th November on the very banks of the river where the bulldozers would soon get to work for three or four years to remove a prime bit of elephant habitat and replace it with a golfing estate blight, cutting the Park in twain.

So on Saturday, redolent of colonial times, there were gathered the ‘locals’ and the ‘notables’, the latter – the Legacy brass, cosseted in shade and soothed with mineral water, the former, sitting mostly in the sun, a drink but a distant memory. And somewhere behind us, lurked the local Chief, Mukuni, who had bussed in many of his subjects – suitably ‘juiced-up’, and who sent forward a Messenger to ask that we should kneel in respect to him, which most of the crowd did, including some of us seven paler people, members of the Wildlife Environment and Conservation Society of Zambia – the only paler part of the rainbow there, but genuflecting, bizarrely, in the direction of the notables (we never did see the chief). This be the same Chief, who although a trustee of the Mukuni Trust, established by the African Wildlife Foundation – a USA NGO, as part of the conservation of what is called the Kazangula Heartlands Conservation Area – which includes the Park, is but a fierce proponent of bulldozer conservation in order to deliver jobs – and presumably some dosh for the trust fund.

Absent of course from this hearing – or faceless in the crowd, were all the people you would expect to be there: the Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ) - which has sole responsibility for seeing that development in Zambia is sustainable, the Zambia Wildlife Authority – who had issued the lease in the first place and who manage the Park, the African Wildlife Foundation, the WWF, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) – who are UNESCO’s environmental consultants, the UNESCO itself, the World Bank – who are funding the resuscitation of the Park and the town in order to develop tourism and get away from the rather nasty mining industry which makes money for its developers but pollutes northern Zambia (yesterday, to our amazement, the ECZ stopped the giant Konkola copper mining company from mining until it stops polluting) – and which has pulled out some of its funding.

Well, the meeting kicked off, refereed by the rather meek and bewildered former head of WWF in Zambia. Legacy gave its spiel, talking of the socio-economic benefits, forgetting that we were all there to discuss the environmental concerns. But of course this presented some difficulty as the 360 page EIA tome, produced by Legacy itself, clearly states that the 220 ha site will have all its natural vegetation removed and that there will be ‘irreversible ecological damage’. Difficult to come back from an own goal, of course. The captain of the ‘notables’, Bart Dorrestein, Chairman of the Legacy Group in Joburg, did try and cancel the own-goal by saying that of course, the area would be carefully managed…etc. It was not clear how this could be achieved when a man-made environment is to be superimposed on a natural one where elephant roam.

The early part of the game had some structure: members of the Livingstone branch of the Society, a formidable matriarchal assemblage, gave their presentations: Margaret Whitehead, former town councilor defiantly assuring all and sundry that it was all about money, and that if they wanted jobs then Legacy could go and erect the golf estate outside of the Park, on land which was available. This went down rather well. Then a local grandmother whose forefathers had lived around the Falls for 400 years or so, dressed in a striking green dress, gave passionate voice to what the area had meant to her and her children. This was drowned out as the beer – crates of it being seen in one of the buses, hit the collective bussed-in brains. Then I came forward, a visitor from the north, and read out a letter written by the National Movement Against Corruption, an association whose members include the Anti-Corruption Commission and, indeed, the President of Zambia himself. This statement, a series of questions really, inquired of the rather obvious legal and procedural failings which had allowed the whole fiasco to have got this far. And to underline this, the chief executive of Citizens for Better Environment, Peter Sinkamba – who had come down from the Copperbelt, savaged the lack of due process.

The match now moved into a new phase. The Zambian Chairman of Legacy, Jacob Sikazwe – also moonlighting as Chairman of the Commission having responsibility for implementing newly arrived black empowerment legislation imported from South Africa, glared at the crowd and asked who present had Zambian business partners. As about everyone there were Zambians, including the pale spectrum, except for myself, and as I did indeed have Zambian partners, some 8,000 of them from another chiefdom, I stuck my hand up. This was ignored. Then people began to press forward, clamouring to be heard. Suddenly, they moved as one towards the river; something had gained their attention. A hippo! “Please take your seats!” commanded the ref. now clearly losing control of the game. Play resumed, but now with the whole crowd on the field.

On the way out, the game droning and chattering on, I joined others on there way down the footpath. They were united in their defiance of the proposed land grab, of their Park being appropriated by developers. Journalists scurried away to get their copies out on the first internet horse. Later, they reported that one of them had been threatened by Chief Mukuni’s supporters, that a docket had been opened at the police station…

8 Nov. 06

The Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, continues to deteriorate as developers have their way with her.

But, in a region where conservation success stories and good news are in short supply, change may be a’coming. Recently, the award by the Zambian Government of a 220 ha ‘Tourism Concession Area’ long-lease to developers to establish a golf estate containing two hotels, an 18 hole golf course, marina and 450 chalets a little upstream of the Falls in the Mosi oa Tunya National Park, has united the people of Livingstone in a rainbow defense coalition, not only of the Falls, but of the whole 30 km radius of Zimbabwean and Zambian territory registered as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Conservationists, clearly, have had enough.

The developers in question, Legacy Holdings Zambia Limited, are a mélange of two companies: Legacy Hotels & Resorts International – based in Johannesburg, and an unknown Zambian company, Tourism Investments Limited, which had originally obtained a 2 ha concession, then, mirabile dictu, suddenly had it transformed into 220 ha – obviously with the encouragement of the Joburg connection and talk of an investment of $200 million, $8 million of it to be paid to the Zambian Government statutory body having responsibility for the Park, the Zambia Wildlife Authority – which just happens to be seriously in debt. So confident were Legacy Holdings – whose chairman also serves in a similar capacity the Tourism Council of Zambia, the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission, and is a member of the President’s International Business Advisory Council and an advisor to BP, that they even had the Vice-President Of Zambia lay the foundation stone for the development in the Park, a construction company contracted to ready the site by removing some trees and doing the necessary masonry work, despite the fact that no clearance had been given by the Town Council, the National Heritage & Conservation Commission – which has joint responsibility for the World Heritage Site, nor the Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ). And what of consultations with the hoi polloi? None of that, until that is, the ECZ said that they should do so – though even with them the full SADC protocols governing strategic environmental assessment and the like have not been followed.

From the ‘laying of the stone’ milestone, alternative sites available have been put to Legacy – and refused, a management plan workshop for the Park held which then put out five more tourist sites for lease in the Park – with no sign of any environmental clearance, research assembled which showed that elephant make use of the site – in fact that it is an essential part of the elephant home range, that it would completely sever the body of the Park in twain, and that it would severely damage plans for the KAZA Transfrontier Conservation Area – one of the most ambitious elephant conservation plans ever thought up, something that would rival Serengeti for tourism.

Fighting all this is the Livingstone branch of the Wildlife Environment & Conservation Society of Zambia – referred to by Legacy Joburg disparagingly as ‘a bunch of Greenies’, though in fact a number of them support hunting and sustainable use, and a steadily growing army of the people of Livingstone: shanty town dweller, resident, tourism operator, civil service branch heads and, famously, Bicycle Charlie, a Zambian who with great initiative leads tourists on his own Njinga trail along the river. And what of UNESCO and their advisor, The World Conservation Union (IUCN), and the other international NGOs like WWF and the African Wildlife Foundation – the latter who have their own interests in the area through their Kazangula Heartlands Project, the creator of the Mukuni Trust, whose trustee, Chief Mukuni, in whose customary area Livingstone falls, is a staunch supporter of the developers. Well, like our native red-backed toads, they have been aestivating, doubtless awaiting the coming of the rains. Or like the World Bank, under its SEED programme, which was to make Livingstone and the Park a thriving, well-managed tourist hub, perhaps have upped their tents and gone elsewhere. But the rains have arrived, and fortunately, so has UNESCO.

On Monday 6 November, the UNESCO representatives came to Livingstone and for a UN agency not known, like all the others, for its stiffness of backbone, lambasted the governments of Zimbabwe and Zambia, threatening them with a world-wide campaign to discourage tourists from coming if the development was not stopped. But they also mentioned that the two countries had manifestly failed to implement agreed protocols for the management of the World Heritage Site as a whole.

For the people of Livingstone, this visit is like rain after drought and suffering; and the timing is immaculate, as a public meeting - called by the ECZ, is being held in Livingstone on Saturday 11 November to discuss the final Environmental Assessment (EIA). This 360 page bit of deforestation ( ) and greenhouse gas - produced by the beneficiaries, makes three telling points – all against themselves: i) that all the natural vegetation would be removed from the 220 ha site, ii) that the activities would cause ‘irreversible ecological destruction’, iii) that the socio-economic benefits outweighed any environmental impacts, and iv) that they did not consider any options other than to build at the site or not to build – the available alternative sites not being considered.

But behind this ruck and maul lurks The Law, the last defense of the citizen, custodian of our land and the Constitution. And the law hounds of Zambia are gathering, knowing that the country has as good a set of laws as any in the region, and that they are prepared to do whatever is necessary to ensure sense prevails. They point out that the Wildlife Act of 1998 requires that the alienation of land in a national park must have the boundaries altered by statute; that the proposed development stands counter to ZAWA’s legal mandate to care for a national park and its wildlife; that all the stakeholders have not been consulted and their agreement obtained – as required; that the decision to proceed is not transparent; that the EIA authors are the beneficiaries of the development and therefore are compromised.

And then there is Zambia’s international standing and its commitment to good governance, in expectation of which the G8 wrote off their debt at Gleneagles.

And, of course, let’s not forget Charlie.

The interview on 19 September by John Robbie - a talk-jock at Radio 702 Joburg, of David Gleason (, publisher, financial editor & journalist, former senior bwana at mining group, Anglo American in Zambia, former Chairman of the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Zambia, organizer of the funding for the Black Lechwe project...), had a bit of rugby about it: a hard pass from the former Greyhounds and Ireland scrummie smacking Gleason in the eye, being introduced by Robbo as “the former columnist with Business Day who was fired and now has his own independent column”, then being given a sound bite to express his concern at the proposed Legacy move of two hotels, a golf course and 300 or so riverside chalets into our tiny Mosi oa Tunya National Park in Livingstone, Zambia, the equivalent of Legacy Hotels moving their Sandton Michael Angelo hotel out to Joburg Zoo Lake under a bit of enrichment camouflage. This brief engagement with a carrier of environmental and business concern was followed, after an agonizing assault of advertising and an interesting interview of an attorney on credit issues, by a soft, slightly forward pass from Robbo right on the tryline to good old Bart Dorrenstein ranging up alongside, Legacy’s Big Man ‘imself, “Good to see you again, Bart Dorrenstein, now what is this all about....?” Bart replies, kindly, reasonable, bending doubtless forward in unctuous capitalist sincerity – “No, no...we have had no dealings with politicians, only the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA). Of course, I did meet the Zambian President, a fine gentleman, but only in a group. And of course we are submitting an environmental impact assessment, and so on...” And so on. And no more Gleason...did he have to hang on to the phone for an hour while all this was going on? Finally, Robbo, in a repeat of the time he and old Nasty Booter and good old Dan Retief were gathered on the DSTV rugger programme, Boots and All, to give whatfor to the Griqua Emperor-President of the South African Rugby Union, the formidable nut-squeezer of Griqua scrums, Brian van Rooyen, but then deciding through a pheromone infusion process that driver ants use to communicate, that discretion and a bit of sycophancy was collectively in order, sums up by saying, “Well, Bart, good luck with the project!” Nice.

Not much here, really. Except that on Saturday 29 July 2006, - before the go-ahead of the Livingstone Town Council, the National Heritage Conservation Commission, the Environmental Council of Zambia and the people of Livingstone and other operators – let alone UNESCO, who are in charge of World Heritage Sites, had been obtained, Vice-President Lupando Mwape of Zambia laid the foundation stone of the Legacy Holdings, Mosi-oa-Tunya Hotel and Golf Estate development in the World Heritage Site in Livingstone, assuring the gathered notables (Chairman of Legacy Holdings Zambia , J.J. Sikazwe, who ushered in the Citizens Economic Empowerment Act into Zambia; Renatus Mushinge, the Legacy Holdings Development Director and brother of the Financial Director of the Zambia Wildlife Authority, Tom Mushinge – who issued the TCA (Tourism Concession Agreement) to Legacy; and Bart and other Legacy Joburg Directors, of course) that “Those who have been hero-worshipped somewhere else based on misdirected superiority complex will not be worshipped in Livingstone” referring to paleface tourist operator investors who because of a precipitous fall in the dollar were having to reduce staff, now appearing so infinitesimally small and mean-spirited in the glare of the Legacy empowerment boast that they would provide permanent employment for 1000 Zambians. Now who put the Veep up to this one?

And the Environmental Council of Zambia, as of yesterday, had still not received the EIA from Legacy, promised them at the end of August, and there is no news from our Livingstone team of the long awaited scoping exercise which requires that civil society be consulted. And the recent five-day Mosi oa Tunya National Park workshop held by ZAWA was abysmal by all reports, the organizers announcing in the middle of the workshop that they were putting out more lodge sites for tender in the Park and could not wait for the finalization of a park management plan in order to do so.

Now the thing is that we all want Legacy to come to Livingstone, but not in the Park, not close to Livingstone so that their projected 300 000 visitors a year will bring all traffic to a standstill on the one road available, lock-out for ever the people from an area used by them for a few centuries and block for all time the main elephant migration route. There is an alternative site available. Why don’t Legacy do us all a favour and pack their wagons and trek over there?