FOR years now there’s been talk of illegal harvesting and exportation of Mukula logs in our country. Our precious rosewood is being depleted, yet benefits are not accruing to the nation!
Even when we are informed of dozens or more trucks laden with Mukula being impounded by our security wings, no one has been arrested and prosecuted for illegally trading in this endangered species. Why? What is happening? Where is the rot?
And today Care for Nature Zambia is asking the government to stop the criminal trade and exportation of Mukula logs.
Executive director Nsama Musonda Kearns wonders the motivation for unearthing scandals if no action is taken.
“Care for Nature Zambia is deeply concerned by the continued trade and exportation of Mukula (rosewood) logs despite government suspending the harvesting and exportation of the species. Since 2017, there has been a ban on Mukula trade, but surprisingly we keep hearing of cartels and scandals being unearthed but we have not heard of any persons or companies being arrested, and one wonders what the point is of unearthing these scandals if no action is taken? Mukula is a highly protected species, its harvesting and exportation is not only regulated by the Zambian laws but it is also listed as an endangered species under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List, meaning any movement of these logs should be in line with the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), which has also listed Mukula as a species that requires international monitoring to prevent illegal trade and exploitation,” says Musonda. “No Mukula can be cut and transported without a concession or licence issued by the forestry department and every log cut is recorded under the licence holders name hence tracing the source of the logs should not be a problem as all timber does not leave site without clearance certificates. In short, these logs being impounded are not mysterious, the source is well known and government should quickly work with the forestry department to ensure that licence holders are traced and charged accordingly, if they are harvesting and exporting Mukula illegally. What is more disheartening is the fact that areas where Mukula is harvested, are the least developed, yet they hold these rare and expensive natural resources that have potential to create employment and reduce poverty…If government cannot trace the owners of the Mukula then let them just cancel all licences and concessions that indicate Mukula on their areas of operations. Every timber concession indicates the tree species to be harvested, hence we are calling upon government to cancel all concessions and licences surrounding Mukula until a lasting and more beneficial solution is found.”
It makes no sense to continue issuing Mukula licences when we cannot properly manage the harvest and export proceeds. And why is it difficult for our law enforcement agencies to trace and crackdown on people committing this illegality? Is it an issue of all government officials lining up their pockets out of the Mukula scandal? We need to clean up the entire process. It is stinking. Our country can’t bleed anymore. Let Zambia benefit from her natural resources equitably.
But those who are illegally profiting from the Mukula must know that their riches are meaningless!
As the Bible warns, “If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still. The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields. Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless… The sleep of a labourer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep. I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners, or wealth lost through some misfortune, so that when they have children there is nothing left for them to inherit. Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands.”
Just when we thought Mukula trading had ended with the collapse of the PF government, we are surprised to still hear such things. Perhaps this is a reminder to the new dawn administration that corrupt people spread their tentacles very wide. They operate in vast networks. The corrupt in PF certainly had collaborators who are still occupying government offices. They are the ones abating the Mukula trade. So, the new government has a lot of work to do on this score and preserve our rosewood. Let this natural resource benefit every Zambian, not just a few selfish characters.