ENVIRONMENTALISTS William Harrington and Robert Chimambo say lands minister Elijah Muchima’s apparent indecision over Forest 27 has rightly or wrongly, created suspicion and a public perception that he is desperately protecting the interests of his “tribesperson” who is a beneficiary of the illegality surrounding the forest.
The duo stated that Muchima “may wish to consider declaring interest or resigning over the handling of the matter of the Lusaka East Local Forest Reserve No.27 as it appears it was too hot to handle” considering that so many high-ranking government officials were beneficiaries of the illegalities surrounding the controversial degazetion of the area by former president Edgar Chagwa Lungu.
The duo stated that whilst it may respect and welcome Muchima’s decision to order the submission to his office of a technical report on the allocation of plots in FR27, that was purely an internal matter of his ministry to determine or investigate possibility of corruption.
“But we are concerned that Muchima is missing the point by deliberately procrastinating – delaying to take decisive action over the controversial and immoral degazetion of a major portion of FR27 by 6th Republican president Edgar Chagwa Lungu on the advice of his lands minister Jean Kapata. I was in fact privileged to meet the minister at his office recently when we discussed the matter of FR27,” Harrington said. “The minister’s apparent indecision over FR27 has however, rightly or wrongly, created suspicion and a public perception that he is desperately protecting the interests of his ‘tribesperson’ who is a beneficiary of the illegality surrounding FR27. It is an open secret that the former lands minister secretively allocated unto herself a comparatively sizeable plot in FR27.”
The duo stated that the urgent need for the President Hakainde Hichilema to give favourable consideration to the petition submitted to him by the affected people of Chongwe and Chalimbana through the Chalimbana River Conservation Trust to have their critical water regazetted cannot be over-emphasized.
“The people are expectant over this matter because it is one of the campaign promises of the United Party for National Development delivered on the floor of the House by Gary Nkombo whilst in opposition. Our government must not endanger the lives of the people through indecision because, as health minister Sylvia Masebo has correctly confirmed, faecal contaminated water is a cause of deadly diarrhea, dysentery and typhoid epidemics,” stated the duo.