The Proposed Wildife Act, 2008

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I have read with utter shock the proposed Wildlife Act, 2008 Bill which is to be tabled by the government in parliament this November. 
The Bill seeks to legitimize, the otherwise illegal powers that have, hitherto, purportedly been exercised by the Wildlife Division. 
More shocking, are the proposed provisions to give powers to the Director of Wildlife to grant grazing permits to villagers who normally graze their cattle in game controlled areas. 
As we all know, the so called game controlled areas are found in village lands. This will mean that those lands will in one way or another cease to be village lands and will become reserved lands, instead. 
This will also put pastoralists under the clutches of the Director of Wildlife.

In addition, establishment of WMA in village lands is sought to be legitimized at the expense of express powers given to village governments by the Village Land Act, 1999. Under the law village governments have powers to declare any part of the village land a communal land and designate specific purposes for its use. 
This has enabled village governments to set-up various economic ventures in their own lands without needing any permission from any other authority. These powers have not sat well with WDs bureaucrats. Under the guise of furthering CBNRM activities they have tried to encroach on these powers by declaring that since wildlife “belongs” to the state then WD has powers to regulate any land wherever that wildlife is found. This is blatantly false. WD cannot regulate non-consumptive uses of wildlife in village lands because the land belongs to the village. The only thing the village government cannot do is to conduct hunting activities, without the permission of the WD, on wildlife found on its lands.

Furthermore, the regulation of non-consumptive uses in village lands has been sneaked in by the WD people so as to further emasculate the village governments. As if that is not enough, the creation of hunting blocks, which have also been created in village lands without the authorization of village governments, is sought to be blessed by this law. 
While the powers of the DW are increased and extended the oversight mechanisms have been put in there for cosmetic purposes. In short, the law does not seek to change the status quo but to entrench it.

Friends, the ramifications of this proposed Bill cannot be over-emphasized as they fly in the face of all that we have been fighting for, for all these years. I am moving a motion that a campaign against this Bill be launched to ensure that it is not passed. We must kill it in its reading stage. There should be no compromise but a total re-writing of a new law involving all stakeholders. I beg to move!

Rugemeleza Nshala

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