A TIMBER businessman in Chipili says the trade in mukula using the Zambia National Service is real and cannot be ignored.
Joseph Mpundu, who has a small-scale concession licence for timber, wondered how the government has turned Luamfumu ZNS Camp into a timber-trading centre when the ban was still in full swing.
Mpundu said it was painful to see ZNS receiving the banned mukula while other traders were being affected by the ban.
“ZNS also has a concession which they acquired this year. They are trading and taking it to Luamfumu. They have a workshop in the barracks called Luamfumu which is being supervised by a Chinese called Allan in Chipili district in Luapula while we watch because of the ban,” Mpundu complained.
He said his concession is next to Luamfumu National Service but cannot trade following the ban.
Mpundu wondered who was trading in the mukula that is being piled and processed at Luamfumu National Service under the supervision of the Chinese.
“Who is trading in this mukula and if it’s coming from Luamfumu National Service, where are they taking the money? And if there is a ban, how then are they cutting it? It means that Zambia has no rules, it’s an animal farm where people can do anything,” he said.
Mpundu further said he had spoken to area member of parliament Jevis Chabi on the suspected illegality so that he would take the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Jean Kapata to task but to no avail.
“It pains me. I am near them but we are not allowed to trade. But with them they are cutting mukula, which is banned and they are bringing it at ZNS in broad daylight, not at night. It’s in the area of Independent MP Chabi and we have informed him. I even asked the Independent MP Chabi to challenge Jean Kapata in Parliament,” he said. “Why should a barrack be turned into a timber industry? It’s in public domain, everybody is seeing it in daylight. They are cutting and have employed a lot of people in Musabango where they are camped. So where are they taking it.”
Mpundu said in his quest to know why such an illegality was being allowed, he also went to see the provincial forestry officer to ask why they were selling mukula there being a ban in effect.
“The provincial forestry officer said ‘this is Boma, this is government so what can we do?’ That is the instruction; they are using ZNS for nothing. It’s a lie; it’s them. Why should a Chinese be there, he has got even a workshop. He is the one who pays them. Where can ZNS get the money even to transport the material and to buy what is necessary to process that mukula? I am told he is linked to AVIC, that’s why they are giving them contracts everywhere,” Mpundu alleged.
He said there was plenty of mukula and ZNS had been given a large-scale concession while his is small-scale but with the ban it’s only the government wing benefitting.