UGANDA (eTN) – Comments attributed to the acting executive director of UWA, Mark Kamanzi, to the effect of “what is wrong with a golf course in the park” have raised a storm of outrage across conservation circles in Uganda and the wider region, with some rather outraged individuals questioning his sanity and ability to perform the job he is supposed to do. His utterances and off the cuff remarks, according to one regular inside source at UWA, confirm that “the man is in the wrong job and wearing shoes 10 times too big for him. Such comments undermine what UWA has been working for over the last decades and make us look like amateurs amongst our colleagues in neighboring countries. The man is a mediocre lawyer to start with and the worst choice to act as our CEO, while the mess the former chairman created together with our minister is being sorted out. It is time to bring people back who understand conservation.”
Such hard-hitting comments were echoed right across the spectrum of many sources this correspondent spoke with in recent days, with some of the more outspoken critics going as far as calling Kamanzi a “hapless nitwit as far as conservation is concerned.”
It is also understood that a powerful conservation lobby is being formed, including at least one former chairperson of UWA, aimed at bringing about measures to restore sanity and renewed order to the Uganda Wildlife Authority but also to fight the misuse of park land for a golf course or any other purpose than conservation and wildlife based tourism. It is, in fact, the latter which galvanized conservationists and at least some tourism stakeholders into action, before expanding their own brief to the authority itself.
In this regard, it seems the Madhvani Group shot itself in the proverbial foot with this unfortunate repeat request – a similar attempt to build a golf course on the Mweya peninsula of the Queen Elizabeth National Park was halted several years ago in the face of stiff opposition – and might live to regret it should threats of boycotting the new lodge would come true, at least until such plans are withdrawn once and for all. That would, of course, be a crying shame, considering the location and facilities of the Chobe Safari Lodge and that it can be reached by road and air with ease from Kampala and how this eventually plays out will be featuring right here in coming weeks and months.