• It is unfair that government wants to forfeit and auction the already harvested Mukula logs without giving affected parties a fair hearing.
• That is not the way it is supposed to be done.
• Let them reconsider what they are planning.
Some aggrieved timber traders have called on government to consider engaging them and hear their plight before auctioning the illegally harvested Mukula logs.
One of the timber dealers Michael Zulu, told Money FM News in an interview that it is unfair that government wants to forfeit and auction the already harvested Mukula logs without giving the affected parties a fair hearing.
Mr. Zulu lamented that once governments forfeits the logs, he will lose almost K900, 000 which was injected into the business in 2021 and this will leave him with no standing capital to do any other business.
“Nobody is happy, we as the timber dealers used our hard earned money to harvest that timber, it’s very unfair that the government should just come, forfeit those trees and auction them without giving us fair hearing. That is not the way it is supposed to be done, that is very unfair on the part of the government.”
“I have been to the Permanent Secretary’s office at Ministry of Community Development, because I was harvesting under that Ministry but nothing much came out from there. I am losing out almost K900, 000 as this is the capital I injected into the business in 2021 and it will leave me with no standing capital to do any other business because all my money was invested in that,” Mr. Zulu lamented.
He said most of the affected timber traders were not harvesting the Mukula illegally, as they have documentation from relevant authorities, hence government should reconsider its decision.
“They should just be fair to us and hear our side and our plight. We are not doing an illegal business, we used to load with the government officers, therefore it was just something which was legal. They must not take what belongs to us, let them reconsider what they are planning,” he stated.
Government has engaged Zambia National Service (ZNS) to identify and collect all illegally harvested Mukula logs laying across the country from 1st to 20th November, 2023.
Green Economy and Environment Minister Collins Nzovu recently said after completion of the Mukula mopping exercise, the Forestry Department, will immediately engage Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to institute forfeiture proceedings to forfeit the illegally harvested logs to the State in accordance with the relevant applicable laws, within two weeks from the completion of the mop up exercise.
Engineer Nzovu explained that once the illegally harvested Mukula logs have been forfeited to the State, a Special Committee of Survey will undertake to value the said logs after which, the auctioning of the forfeited logs will be done at each ZNS Collection Centre to ensure a fair and transparent way of disposing of the logs.