Village scouts demand minimum wage

Wildlife Scout Elias Phiri with the sable carcass
Wildlife Scout Elias Phiri with the sable carcass

Village scouts in the Rufunsa Gama Management Area (GMA)

Village scouts in the Rufunsa Gama Management Area (GMA) of Luangwa and Rufunsa districts have appealed to Government to intervene in their monthly wages as they are being paid far less than the minimum wage as required by government.

The village scouts, who stormed the Office of the District Commissioner in Luangwa districts, said they were being paid K237. 00 which is far below the minimum wage and appealed to government to intervene through the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA).

The village scouts told Luangwa District Commissioner, Eunie Mumba, that they were exploited by being paid K237. 00 after paying to NAPSA, the money which cannot even afford them to take their children to school.

They told the District Commissioner that they were doing a lot of work in animal control in villages and that they even go for patrols in the Game Management Area and the park but the monthly wage they were getting was far less too little to enable them lead a decent life.

The village scouts opted for anonymity for fear of their work, said the K237. 00 was also erratic as it does not come every month and when the money comes they are not paid in arrears.

And District Commissioner, Eunie Mumba, expressed sympathy on the village scouts, saying it was sad that they were being paid below the minimum wage when Government has always been telling employers to pay the workers a minimum wage of not less than K750. 00

Mr Mumba said it was sad that village scouts were being paid such little money when they were doing a lot of work to solve the human/animal conflict being experienced in the area and protecting wildlife from poachers.

He said Government has always been preaching about the minimum wage and said he was happy with the lodge-owners in the area who have abided by Government’s instruction of paying their workers the minimum wage.

The District Commissioner called on ZAWA to revise the conditions for village scouts so that they also lead a decent life as this is what the PF Government expects from employers.

Rufunsa Game Management area has 14 village scouts who were employed by Community Resource Boards (CRBs) who used to get their money from hunting safaris but since the ban on hunting safari by the Ministry of Tourism it has been difficult for them to supplement ZAWA’s monthly contribution.