WILLIAM Harrington and environmentalist Robert Chimambo have requested Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini to recuse himself from deliberations on Forest 27 due to conflict of interest.
Following a point of order by Mazabuka UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo, Speaker Matibini requested lands minister Jean Kapata to issue a comprehensive statement on issues surrounding Forest Reserve 27 where several high profile individuals and PF supporters have been allocated plots.
The developments in the forest reserve have raised consternation with former environment minister Harrington and Chimambo asking the Chief Justice to establish a tribunal to determine whether the lands minister was in the wrong to give land in forest 27, which is the aquifer for Lusaka headwaters and the source of Chalimbana river.
Nkombo premised his point of order on President Edgar Lungu’s recent remarks that some of the environmental problems were man-made.
“Corporate institutions and individual citizens tend to ignore the environmental impact of their commercial or individual activities which they conduct next to our water sources,” Nkombo quoted President Lungu as saying. “In this regard, I am directing the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection to take lead in ensuring that our water sources and the land adjacent to these areas are not adulterated by corporate entities or individuals in the name of development. Honourable ministers and your permanent secretaries of the above mentioned ministries, ensure that the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) and the Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) realign themselves to effectively carry out their mandate and produce the required results today and not tomorrow. From henceforth, I shall not see a house or indeed a factory being built adjacent to our water resource, depriving the majority of other Zambians the usage of this water resource.”
Nkombo told the House that in Forest 27, many had complained of sinking dry boreholes as the headwaters of the Chalimbana river had been disturbed by developments.
He also said the country had been grappling with the illegalities of people allocating themselves plots and wanted to find out whether Kapata and the water minister were in order to be quiet in view of President Lungu’s clear directive to them.
Dr Matibini in his ruling said Kapata would today issue a comprehensive statement on the subject.
“In so doing, the Hon. Minister will liaise with the Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection together with the Ministry of Local Government. That is my ruling,” said Dr Matibini.
But Harrington and Chimambo contend that Dr Matibini was a beneficiary of a plot in Forest 27.
“Mr Robert Chimambo and I, being applicants to the Chief Justice to appoint a tribunal in respect of Forest Reserve No. 27 welcome the ruling by Speaker of the National Assembly. We, however, expect Mr Speaker will, on moral grounds, recuse himself from the deliberations of the House when the Minister will present her ministerial statement,” reads a statement by the duo. “Mr Speaker is an interested party and beneficiary of the illegalities surrounding the controversial degazetting of the forest reserve and we have documentary evidence to that effect obtained from the deeds registry at Ministry of Lands. Mr Speaker is a direct beneficiary of the illegalities surrounding the controversial degazetting of a major portion of Forest Reserve No. 27 by President Lungu to pave way for residential housing development.”
Harrington and Chimambo stated that they appreciate that the Chief Justice had recused herself from dealing with their application for appointment of a tribunal in the matter of FR No. 27.
“Our expectation [is] that Mr Speaker acts accordingly,” reads the statement.