The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) is failing to carry out its anti-poaching activities due to lack of suitable all-terrain vehicles and is saddled with a $21.5 million debt.
Recently, the entity received a bailout package of US$11,9 million for capitalisation, while its debt will be restructured and repaid over a long period.
According to the Auditor-General Mildred Chiri in her latest report, ZimParks vehicles in different regions of the country are not appropriate for the terrain they are used in and have incurred high costs in maintenance expenses.
“The Northern region had a motor vehicle fleet of sixty- four, most of which have outlived their useful lives. As a result, this region incurred motor vehicle repairs and maintenance costs amounting to $91 644 during the year under review,” said Chiri.
“The Western region mostly had non- runner vehicles that were incurring maintenance costs above the carrying amount. The Authority had not conducted a cost benefit analysis with regard to vehicle maintenance expenses and the related fleet.”
She said, only one vehicle (GNP 883) was being used for all the operations at Hwange National Park main camp.
In response, the ZimParks management remarked that a professional assessment for vehicles at Hwange National Park was done and the vehicles deployed for the station are Defenders and Land Cruisers suitable for the terrain and environment.
“A cost benefit analysis was done and vehicles which were expensive to repair were disposed of,” said the ZimParks management.
“The Auditor General said animals are left vulnerable to poachers as patrol officers cannot perform their duty due to non-operational equipment.
“The Authority had no functional boat at Kyle station and Mushandike College. As a result, staff could not carry out patrols around the water bodies hence poaching activities went on undetected,” said Chiri.
ZimParks management said a budget meeting was conducted in the aim of procuring boats for Kyle Station.
“The Kyle station budgeted for boats in 2018 and it was agreed in the budget meeting that a boat will be procured for Kyle in 2018. However, it must be noted that the Authority was operating under difficult financial conditions hence it took long for vehicles to be disposed. That is the reason why old vehicles continue to be serviced so that operations are not compromised,” said Zimparks management.
The management said it is mobilising resources to procure operational vehicles.
“The major reason why management has continued to service the old vehicles is mainly due to the fact that the Authority has got financial challenges. Most of the work done on these vehicles were suspension and service. This was meant to ensure continuity of operations,” said ZimParks