ZIMBABWE Parks and Wildlife Managament Authority (ZimParks) employees, who had not been paid in five years, have started receiving outstanding salaries.
Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said contract workers were owed wages of up to five years, while permanent employees had gone unpaid for six months.
“We’re paying out all owed wages and have so far managed to pay up salaries for up to four months. Once an employee goes for this long without getting any earnings, they fall prey to temptation resulting in constant cases of corruption that we’re talking about on a daily basis.
“Working as a team with my board members, we’ve managed to slowly rectify a lot of things that were in bad shape. Every employee needs motivation for them to deliver their duties with utmost dedication and honesty,” she said.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said she is happy to have been involved in improving the livelihoods of hundreds of workers, putting a smile on their faces as they received what they were owed.
“We’ve running battles with poachers on a daily basis and it’s beyond doubt that in some cases, it is our very own hungry employees in the poaching escapades. Therefore, we saw it fit to immediately make ways of paying up what is owed.
“While our rangers were deployed into the bushes, their families were struggling to sustain a living with many of them having their children scattered all over different communities,” she said.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said such a scenario is bad as it exposes children to abuse.
These people also didn’t have clinics, had poor housing structures without electricity, poor roads, no vehicles and water sources near them, with them having to walk very long distances to obtain those facilities.
“As a ministry, we’ve said ‘no’ to that and would want them to have proper living conditions like those standards at police and army institutions. We’ve come up with plans of building crèches and schools at National Parks camps and even a boarding school like with the police,” said the Minister.
She said ZimParks was creating a conducive working environment for employees with the intention of bringing them at par with other government employees.
“We have acquired sniffer dogs which are currently in training to make the rangers’ job a lot easier. The rangers will also be supplied with drones, motor bikes, protective shoes, cars and a lot more accessories.
“We have arranged for sporting activities between ZimParks and their nearby communities to create mutual understanding and strengthen their relationships.”
Hwange Rural District Council Deputy Chairperson Councillor Matthew Muleya expressed gratitude for the developments initiated by the minister and her board.
“On behalf of employees, we appreciate the minister’s efforts in developing our livelihoods. Hundreds of employees are all smiles after receiving their owed salaries and wages and we hope this will stay like this.
“It’s always good to feel appreciated for services rendered. Every worker needs to be motivated and considering we do a difficult and risky job of guarding wildlife which is one of the country’s economic pillars, we really appreciate the minister’s efforts,” said Clr Muleya.