In the last couple of days, many friends have been talking to me about this bizarre statement from our Tourism and Wildlife minister, implying that we should consider privatizing various tourism facilities under his ministry (including National Parks) https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/business/article/2001412694/balala-seeks-privatisation-of-game-parks-tourism-outfits . Why are we psychologically unable to escape from this fallacy that National Parks are tourism facilities rather that repositories of our natural heritage?? The very first function of KWS listed in the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act (2013) is to “Conserve and manage national parks, wildlife conservation areas, and sanctuaries under its jurisdiction”. There is no mention of removal of the said parks from KWS jurisdiction. However, looking at the recent legal debacles in Kenya, one can be forgiven for thinking that the top echelons of our government are challenged in legal thought, so lets ignore that for a moment… In fact let’s forget about everything else including sovereignty and heritage questions which would tax philosophically challenged minds. Water is life. Our most important water catchment, the Aberdares which supplies Nairobi (including the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife Hq.) is a national park, as is Mt. Kenya, Chyulu Hills, Mzima springs (supplying Mombasa, the Minister’s hometown). What struck me like a thunderbolt was the Minister’s assertion that this would ‘bring efficiency’. I haven’t heard any protests from the Director General, or the Board so I assume that they have accepted this assessment. Bwana Waziri, if the KWS management has failed, disband the board and change the CEO. We know that since the departure of the Chairman, the board currently doesn’t include a single independent member with the requisite qualifications to advise on wildlife conservation matters. The CEO is a career military officer. Dear Sir, where on earth was this mythical “efficiency” supposed to come from?? It should be anathema to disregard the efforts of hundreds of hard working, brave and professional KWS staff in this manner. Handing over our heritage to foreigners will enslave our children. NO Sir, that is not acceptable. There are qualified and committed Kenyans who can sit on that board and be custodians of our most precious gems. If your DG has failed, remove him and call any of the qualified Kenyans you know (and yes, you even have my phone number). EU diplomats and other foreigners are most welcome to our parks as visitors. Not as management.
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