The Department of Forests under my Ministry of Green Economy and Environment has cancelled the timber concession license awarded to His Royal Highness Chief Chikwa of the Senga People of Chama District in Eastern Province through his company called Zizye for contravening the conditions underwhich the concession license was issued.

The Department as well as government security wings have unearthed overwhelming evidence that the traditional leader, against many warning messages, had been engaging foreign nationals to harvest timber using the license which is a reserve for local people hence government has decided to act to protect the forest resources for the people of Chama.

Now, in late 2022, the New Dawn Government had issued almost 200 concession licenses in the small and medium categories from over 480 applications which prioritised our local people so as to do away with the legacy issues where timber harvesting was merely the preserve of the elite and ruling party cadres.

And prior to issuing the concession licenses, we had put into consideration the fact that chiefs are custodians of tradition and the people they preside over in their chiefdoms hence empowering the chiefs would have trickle down effects to their subjects through economic activities and employment when harvesting the timber.

But government agencies have discovered that contrary to regulation number 11 of the Forest Concession License Regulation of 2016, foreign nationals are involved in the timber harvesting at the invitation of local concession holders such as the traditional leader in question.

The Forest Department has established that the said concession license holder is also harvesting timber beyond the defined or designated forest concession area contrary to section 52 (1) b of the Forest Act of 2015.

By transfering the concession license to a foreign individual, the concession license holder has also violated section 61 of the Forest Act as well as section 89 of the Forest Act by being in illegal possession of forest produce harvested from areas that were not designated for harvesting by their licence.

To curtail these illegalities further, government has embarked on a vigorous audit of the operations of the 190 timber concession license holders following reports that many have solved their licenses to foreigners.

Our traditional leaders must desist from engaging in such illegalities to avoid being found in confrontation with the law as evidenced by the arrest of a Tanzanian national who was found harvesting timber using a local concession license holder.

As government, we would therefore like to warn that during the current drought situation which has been declared a state of emergency by President Hakainde Hichilema, illegal logging and violation of concession licenses will not be tolerated and the law will catch up with any of the violators.

Therefore, protecting the forests from all forms of illegalities including illegal burning of vegetation must be controlled because reckless burning or attempts to burn grass and trees under any circumstances is punishable by law under the provisions of Section 330 of the penalty code chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia.

We have matching orders from the President to ensure that these provisions of the law are adhered to so that the country remains food and water secure amidst the drought because besides causing emissions, burning of grass and trees recklessly threatens national food security.

Hon. Eng. Collins Nzovu, MP
Minister of Green Economy and Environment

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