2 Forestry dept officials suspended

Zambian timber loggers complain the Chinese are slicing through their heritage. Photo - EddiE Mwanaleza

TWO Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection officials in the Forestry Department have been suspended for allegedly conniving with unscrupulous timber traders.
Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Minister Harry Kalaba disclosed this to journalists in Lusaka.
Mr Kalaba said Government was aware that some Chinese nationals were buying the timber without permits and warned that Government would “crack the whip” on those who would be found wanting.
The minister warned that all the perpetrators of the illegal timber trade should expect to face the wrath of the law.
“We can’t go ahead breaking the law so mercilessly without any regard for the authorities that be. And some of the officers involved are even from my ministry and we have already suspended two officers in the Forestry Department for conniving with people that are already dealing with those unscrupulous timber traders,” he said.
Mr Kalaba said he had since delegated Deputy Minister Mutaba Mwali to convene a meeting between the ministry and the Chinese companies buying the timber.
Recently, the Forestry Department intercepted 17 trucks laden with timber obtained illegally in separate operations in Luangwa District.