Preserve Forest No. 27, Chipenzi urges govt
By Staff Reporter
GEARS Initiative Zambia says the silence from the Ministry of Lands and the Department of Forestry, in particular, on forest No. 27, east of Lusaka, is very nauseating.
Governance, Elections, Advocacy, Research Services (GEARS) Initiative Zambia executive director McDonald Chipenzi, in a press statement yesterday, said his organisation was concerned with the controversies surrounding the demarcation of parts of the protected forest No.27 in Lusaka.
He stated that the government and the relevant authorities must know that the concerned forest forms the headwaters of Chalimbana River front, which flows into Chongwe River.
Chipenzi stated that in the face of climate change affecting Zambia, as evidenced during 2017/2018 farming season, the Chongwe and Chalimbana Rivers would dry up, if the forest was disturbed in any way.
“Present and future generations will suffer irreparable consequences as agriculture will be compromised,” Chipenzi stated.
“The silence from the Ministry of Lands and the Department of Forestry, in particular, is also very nauseating. In the first place, from experts, the forest concerned should not have been de-gazetted for whatever reason, including allocating of plots to officials in government, judiciary and PF supporters.”
He demanded that the government cancels all certificates of title issued to beneficiaries of plots in the protected forest.
Chipenzi added that all construction works in the forest, including roads currently going on, ought to be halted because: “they are damaging a very sensitive and strategic ecosystem and headwaters of Chalimbana River on which thousands of people in the area depend.”
“GEARS Initiative Zambia wants to remind the Ministry of Lands that this forest has been a protected area since colonial times because of its strategic importance and value to the nation,” Chipenzi stated.
“It is amazing how the PF government, in its insatiable appetite for land, is now working against the wishes of the 2, 500 people who petitioned Dr FTJ Chiluba to re-gazette the said forest after it was de-gazetted by Dr Kenneth Kaunda to provide some land for freedom fighters during Zimbabwe liberation war.”
Chipenzi further stated that GEARS Initiative Zambia was also demanding for an investigation on land allocation in forest No. 27 and making a full public disclosure of the beneficiaries to the said land and how titles were issued to them.
“We also call on relevant traditional leadership, environmentalists and academia to take keen interest in this matter and help protect our ecological system for present and future generation,” stated Chipenzi,
Recently, Vice-President Inonge Wina told Parliament, during the Vice-President’s Question Time, that forest reserve 27, had been hived off for residential occupation.
“[But] what has happened is that a portion of it was indeed hived off so that we could create space for residential occupation. So, the forest is still there and the source of the Chalimbana River is still preserved in its natural state. I thank you,” Vice-President Wina answered to Katombora UPND member of parliament Derrick Livune’s question.
In a letter dated July 21, 2019, William Harrington, a former environment and natural resources minister from 1995 to 1996, petitioned President Edgar Lungu to stop the rot, corruption and environmental degradation taking place at Lusaka east local forest reserve No. 27 where ministers, Vice-President Wina, the chief justice, businessmen have been given land.
Harrington, a keen environmentalist, bemoaned the destruction of the forest area, which is the aquifer for the city of Lusaka.