I do not own land in Forest 27 – Kasanda

CHISAMBA Constituency UPND member of parliament Chushi Kasanda has challenged the PF to name and shame all politicians who have benefited from Forest 27.

In an interview yesterday, Kasanda challenged PF deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri to show evidence that she is a beneficiary of land at the controversial forest as alleged in her discussion with UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema.

Kasanda said Phiri should have facts before opening her mouth stressing that she does not own land or property in Forest 27.

“She should come out open and name all politicians to have benefited from that land. I was the only one she categorically mentioned when she was talking to our president HH but that’s not factual. I do not own land in that area, so let her bring facts,” she said.

Kasanda recalled that during her debate in parliament not long ago, she challenged lands minister Jean Kapata to publish or name beneficiaries of land in Forest 27 but that Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini intervened stating that it should not be done.

She wondered how Phiri would fabricate a story that she was a beneficiary when in fact she was the one advocating that those to have benefited from the illegality should be named and shamed.

“I heard Mumbi Phiri said I got land from forest 27. I am one of the very few MPs who has never gotten land from PF either from forest 27 or any land that they have given to MPs at parliament,” Kasanda said.

She said she was not a desperate member of parliament to seek land from the corrupt PF government especially when she knows that UPND would repossess it when it gets into power.

“I stood on the floor of the House to ask the Minister of Lands to give us a list of all those that benefited from forest if there was nothing sinister about it but the Speaker refused the minister to take up that question,” Kasanda said. “I personally as Chushi Kasanda – MP for Chisamba did not benefit from the said controversial piece of land and therefore Mumbi Phiri should get her facts right before she blurts out things she is not sure about.”

She said she now understands why Phiri was kicked out of parliament and her constituency because she holds no value and that “is evident by her useless questions”.

“It is also a shame for the UPND MPs who keep going to bed with the PF by asking for plots from them when I believe these colleagues of mine can afford to buy themselves plots without begging from the PF,” said Kasanda. “As a young politician I will not dent my name for a piece of land in forest 27 and those UPND MPs that benefited land in forest 27 should come out in the open so that all of us are not dented.”

President Edgar Lungu signed SI No 62 of 2017 degazetting of the forest number 27.

But various stakeholders wonder why the President signed such a destructive SI, knowing very well that forest reserve 27 was the only forest remaining in Lusaka and is a recharge area for Chalimbana and Chongwe rivers.

Others noted that all the Zambian presidents, from Kenneth Kaunda, Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa, Rupiah Banda to Michael Sata resisted and protected the forest.

The Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) wrote a letter to Lusaka Province Planning Authority and expressed serious concerns regarding the development since Forest No. 27 is a ground water recharge area and also feeds the river systems in the Chalimbana sub-catchment – “degazetting this forest for residential plots will threaten water resource availability as this may result in some water sources drying up”.

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