THE Ministry of Tourism and Arts is angered by the submission of the Tourism Council of Zambia (TCZ) to the Parliamentary Committee on Lands, Environment and Tourism that public officers that co-ordinated the drafting of the Tourism and Hospitality Bill were serving personal interests.
Ministry permanent secretary Stephen Mwansa told the committee on Tuesday that it is very unfortunate that TCZ, which was widely consulted throughout the process, has now turned around and is alleging corruption on the part of those who drafted the bill.
“When TCZ rejected the service charge but the unions advocated for it, we organised a special caucus to resolve the impasse. So, for them to come and present here that they were not consulted is in bad taste, as bad the taste.”
“Chair [chairman], you may wish to know that our ministry is not mandated to investigate corruption, so let them go to relevant organs of Government and present the case,” Mr Mwansa said.
Mr Mwansa said the draft bill before the committee is a government document as it has been approved by Cabinet.
He said TCZ is in this vein also accusing Cabinet of serving personal interests.
“This is totally unacceptable. We request the committee to ask TCZ to withdraw this statement unless they have evidence with which to back their accusation,” Mr Mwansa said.
Mr Mwansa said Government wants the retention of the service charge in the bill to promote ‘Zambianisation’ and professionalism in the tourism sector.
He reiterated that TCZ was a full participant in all the drafting stages of the bill and its position to remove the service charge was rejected at every stage by the Hotels and Catering Association of Zambia, the largest affiliate body in the tourism sector.
Mr Mwansa laid on the table of the committee minutes of a special meeting which was convened by his ministry, which took a neutral position, where majority of stakeholders rejected the removal of the service charge from the bill.
The permanent secretary said what should be an issue is to strengthen monitoring of the tour operators so that they pay the service charge to intended beneficiaries who are the workers.
Zambia Daily Mail