The findings of a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Land, Natural Resources and Environment probe committee on the allocation of hunting blocks and capturing and transporting of live animals tabled in the last parliamentary meeting are valid, The Guardian has been told.
According to the committee's chairman, James Lembeli, the report's finding are valid and challenged anyone dissatisfied with it to raise the matter in the National Assembly where it originated.
Lembeli was responding to this paper's queries on the authenticity of the findings after it was claimed that the probe team had other motives to come up with a damning report.
“The report was tabled in the National Assembly, therefore I cannot comment any further, but as far as I know the report is accurate, has no controversial findings and whoever wants to question it should do so on the floor of the National Assembly,” Lembeli quipped, declining to comment further.
“If it is about that (probe committee report) I am not in a position to comment further,” said Lembeli when The Guardian asked for more details.
His committee's report is being challenged by various stakeholders, including some companies which were allocated hunting blocks.
The report alleges that 16 out of 60 companies which were allocated hunting blocks for the 2013-2018 season were allocated the blocks without applying for them, implying that they were allocated the hunting blocks fraudulently.
The companies are Mkwawa Hunting Safaris (T) Limited, Fereck Safaris Limited, EBN Hunting Safaris Limited, Wild Footprints Safaris Limited, Auto Africa Safaris Limited and Malagarasi Hunting Safaris Limited.
Others are HSK Safari company limited, Green Leaf limited, African Trophy Hunting Limited, African buffalo Trackers Limited, FOA Adventures Safari limited, Mbogo hunting Safari Limited, Robin Hurt Safari Ltd, Melami Hunting Safari Ltd, Michelle Maenthiakis Safaris Ltd, Safari Club Ltd
Four companies, Robin Hurt Safaris Ltd, Michel Maenthiakes Safaris Ltd, Melami Hunting Safaris Ltd, and Fereck Safaris Limited have written to the Speaker of the National Assembly Anne Makinda expressing their dissatisfaction with the report's findings. In their letter dated May 4, 2012, a copy of which The Guardian has seen, the firms complain about the report's contents on pages 45, 46, 47, 85, 86, and 87.
They argue that the report wrongly imputed corrupt practices, tax evasion and other irregularities on their part, which they say has damaged their reputation and credibility. They want the committee to clear them, saying they are credible, honest and people with great love to their country.
“All we want is to put the record correct. We want the truth to be told as it is,” pointed one of the complainants, Michell Maenthiakes.
Another issue which is being challenged by the firms is that the report mentions some companies which it alleges were allocated hunting blocks while in actual fact they did not, a clear testimony to incompetence or being driven by malicious motives.
When The Guardian requested the names of the successful companies from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (MNRT) last week, it was given a copy of the Safari Club International (SCI) Convention Daily news of February3, 2012, which contains the names of the 60 companies allocated hunting blocks for the 2013-2018 hunting season.
SCI is an international professional hunters and outfitters gathering which takes place every year in Las Vegas or Nevada in United States of America. This year it took place at Reno, Nevada, at which the then minister Ezekiel Maige announced the hunting blocks for 2013-2018 and the successful companies.
Of the 60 companies, two mentioned in the SCI newsletter, Mbogo Hunting Safaris Ltd and FOA Adventures Safari Limited, do not feature in the Lembeli report.
When contacted for clarification Augustino Ntomola of Mbogo Hunting Safari responded: “I am also surprised how Mbogo Hunting Safaris Ltd appeared in the Lembeli report as our company has no hunting block nor did it apply for one.”
Efforts to contact FOA Adventures Safari Limited to get their side of the story didn’t bear fruit.
Recently, the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) embarked on investigating the manner in which hunting blocks for 2013-2018 season were allocated to 16 companies by the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources.
The probe follows allegations that the allocation exercise was marred by massive irregularities and corruption.
PCCB Director General Dr Edward Hosea confirmed over the phone that the watchdog was probing the issue.