Former Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, William Harrington, is calling on the New Dawn Administration to publicly restate its position on Lusaka National Forest number 27.
Harrington highlighted that Second Republican President Frederick Chiluba had gazetted Forest 27 in response to a petition from Robert Chimambo, then Secretary of the Chalimbana Rural Headwaters Community Trust, who collected 3000 signatures.
Unfortunately, the Chiluba legacy faced setbacks with the cancellation of a Statutory Instrument (SI) by subsequent government administrations.
Expressing concern, Harrington noted that in 2022, the government allowed a substantial housing project to proceed in Forest 27, raising doubts about the possibility of saving the forest.
These remarks were made at the farewell ceremony for Robert Kunda Chimambo, who was born on February 1st, 1947, and passed away on January 27th, 2024. Chimambo was laid to rest at Leopards Hill Memorial Park in Lusaka.
Harrington lamented that Chimambo passed away without witnessing a resolution to the Forest 27 issue.
He urged the government to posthumously honor Chimambo for his role as an Environmental Defender, citing his resistance against mining in Lower Zambezi National Park, Kabwe Lead Poisoning, and other environmental causes.
At the same event, Centre for Environment Justice (CEJ) Board Member Boniface Mumba praised Chimambo as a courageous and fearless Environmental Defender.
Abel Musumali from the Zambia Climate Change Network (ZCCN) recalled Chimambo’s pivotal role in hosting a 2010 conference on environmental protection issues with youth participation across Africa.
Harrington’s call for the UPND government to clarify its stance on Forest 27 underscores the ongoing environmental concerns and the need for transparent and sustainable policies.