President Edgar Lungu says there is need for continued co-existence between the local people and investors in areas surrounding the South Luangwa National Park.
President Lungu told Senior Chief Nsefu, chiefs Kakumbi, Mnkhanya, Malama, Jumbe and Msoro that there was need to ensure that issues of discrimination on racial lines did not arise in the South Luangwa National park.
Speaking last yesterday when he met all the six chiefs from Mambwe, Mr Lungu said there was need for the local people to appreciate and help safeguard the wildlife resource in the area.
And chief Jumbe said the problem between the Zamia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) and the local community arose when ZAWA started side-lining the locals in the management of wildlife.
Chief Jumbe noted that according to the ZAWA Act, the local community was supposed to be a co-manager of the game reserves, but complained that ZAWA was carrying out its operations without the participation of the locals.
“You cannot do anything in the preservation of wildlife if you side-line the local community. There is need to cement the relationship between ZAWA and the locals in order to have concerted efforts in fighting poaching,” he said.
Chief Jumbe also stated that the local people were made to protect the wildlife but were not given hunting licenses and appealed to President Lungu to facilitate the provision of special licenses for chiefs.
Meanwhile, Senior Chief Nsefu charged that ZAWA officers had continued to kill suspected poachers on pretext that they were protecting the animal resources.
“They arrested me for allegedly poaching and this means that they are not against me as an individual but the tribe because I am a tribal parent. They say that no one is above the Law, yet they behave as though they are above the Law because no action is taken against the culprits,” said senior chief Nsefu.
And Mambwe District Commissioner, Caroline Mwanza, observed that some suspects were unfairly treated citing a suspect who was on Anti-Retro Viral Therapy (ART) and died while in remand because he was denied access to medication.
Meanwhile, the District Commissioner appealed to President Lungu to consider constructing a district hospital in the area, saying the only Mission Hospital, Kamoto, was not adequate as it did not have the capacity to provide services to the growing population as it was built to meet a low population at that time.
“Currently there is a problem at the mortuary. When a person dies, we keep corpses at health facilities in Chipata as we await burial of the deceased. This makes it expensive for mourners,” said Ms Mwanza.
And chief Malama appealed to Government to rehabilitate the road leading to his palace which he said was in a deplorable state.