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Harrington asks Chief Justice to appoint a tribunal on Forest 27

WILLIAM Harrington and Robert Chimambo have applied to Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima to appoint a tribunal to investigate whether or not lands minister Jean Kapata was in breach of an Act when she acquired a small-holding plot in the de-gazetted part of Lusaka East local forest reserve No.27.

The concerned Act is the parliamentary and ministerial Code of Conduct Act Chapter 16 of the Laws of Zambia.

Harrington and Chimambo, who are all dedicated environmental advocates, have, of late, been raising alarm over the environmental damage caused to forest reserve No.27 through residential and road construction works and charcoal production.

Harrington, a former environment and natural resources minister in Frederick Chiluba’s government, ignited controversy surrounding plot ownership, especially by eminent Zambians, in forest reserve No. 27, east of Lusaka, when he petitioned President Edgar Lungu on July 21, 2019, bemoaning the destruction of the forest, which is the aquifer for Lusaka city.

In a petition to the Chief Justice dated August 19, 2019 and received by the Chief Justice’s Chambers, Harrington and Chimambo stated that due to overwhelming public demand and extensive consultations over the forestry matter, they, as concerned citizens, had a duty to officially lodge a complaint against Kapata, “consistent with the procedural requirement of the relevant Act.”

“My Lady, we accordingly hereby apply to Her Ladyship to appoint a tribunal pursuant to the aforementioned Act to investigate whether or not the Hon. Minister was in breach of the Act when she acquired a small-holding plot in the de-gazetted part of the Lusaka East Local Forest Reserve No.27,” Harrington and Chimambo stated.

The duo indicated that its complaint was that Kapata may be in breach of the relevant law when she knowingly gained pecuniary advantage or assisted others in the acquisition of pecuniary advantage in the course of her official duties as a minister.

“My Lady, there is an allegation by the Office of the Commissioner of Lands – lands registry of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources that the Honourable Minister is Title Deed holder of property No. LUSAK/LN52062/38,” the duo stated.

“We fervently believe there is need to appoint a tribunal to investigate the matter further so as to determine whether the allegation is true or not. My Lady, we remain confident that Her Ladyship will give our application the seriousness it deserves and to grant us our constitutional and legal right to be heard in the tribunal.”

Harrington and Chimambo added that the tribunal would also give an opportunity to Kapata to exercise her right “to clear the air” over the allegation.

Further, the duo made six proposals as subjects for an investigation, including:

1. To investigate how the Hon. Minister was issued with a certificate of Title in the de-gazetted part of the Lusaka East Local Forest Reserve No.27 as alleged.

2. To investigate whether or not the Hon. Minister is in breach of the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct Act Chapter 16 of the Laws of Zambia.

3. To investigate what role Hon. Kapata, as Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, played in the de-gazetting of parts of Forest Reserve No. 27 in which she was allocated a plot.

4. To investigate whether or not correct procedure was followed prior to demarcation and allocation of plots in the said forest, including the plot allocated to the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Hon. Jean Kapata, MP.

5. To investigate whether any other person/s to whom the Act may apply is/are in breach of the Act.

6. To investigate any other matters that may be necessary for purposes of the tribunal.

“My Lady, we pray that you will give this application your favourable and expeditious consideration in the public and national interest. We thank you in anticipation,” stated Harrington and Chimambo.

Harrington is of plot 36 Mafulo area, P.O Box 920033, Senanga while Chimambo is of Kuka Farm R/B/SD/298, Musuku Close, off State Lodge Road, Lusaka East.

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