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Govt Cancels Timber Concession License of Chief Chikwa for Violating Regulations

The Department of Forests, under the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment, has taken a significant step towards safeguarding Zambia’s invaluable forest reserves by revoking the timber concession license previously awarded to His Royal Highness Chief Chikwa of the Senga People in Chama District, Eastern Province. This license was held under the company name Zizye.

The decision comes after extensive investigations revealed egregious violations of the terms under which the concession was issued. Government authorities, including security agencies, uncovered compelling evidence indicating that the traditional leader had engaged foreign nationals in timber harvesting activities, a clear breach of the license conditions which are reserved for local communities.

Hon. Eng. Collins Nzovu, MP, the Minister of Green Economy and Environment, emphasized the government’s commitment to safeguarding forest resources for the people of Chama and beyond. “Our priority is to ensure that forest resources are managed sustainably for the benefit of local communities,” stated Minister Nzovu.

The cancellation of the concession license underscores the government’s stance against illegal activities in the forestry sector. The New Dawn Government, which came into power in late 2022, had prioritized the issuance of timber concession licenses to empower local communities and eliminate past practices where such privileges were monopolized by the elite and ruling party affiliates.

However, investigations revealed that Chief Chikwa, in contravention of regulations, had involved foreign nationals in timber harvesting operations, thereby exploiting resources meant for local empowerment. The Forest Department also found instances where timber was harvested beyond designated areas specified in the license agreement.

Furthermore, it was discovered that the concession license holder had unlawfully transferred the license to a foreign individual, violating pertinent sections of the Forest Act. The government has initiated a comprehensive audit of all timber concession license holders amid reports of similar infractions, including the unauthorized sale of licenses to foreign entities.

Minister Nzovu issued a stern warning to traditional leaders and concession holders, cautioning against engaging in illegal activities. “Our traditional leaders must desist from such actions to avoid legal repercussions,” he affirmed.

The government’s crackdown on illegal logging and violations of concession licenses comes at a critical time when Zambia is grappling with a state of emergency declared due to drought conditions. Minister Nzovu emphasized the importance of preserving forests to mitigate the impact of the drought on food and water security.

The President of Zambia, Hakainde Hichilema, has reiterated his administration’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and ensuring strict adherence to environmental regulations. 

“Illegal activities, including reckless burning of vegetation, will not be tolerated,” President Hichilema declared, emphasizing the government’s determination to enforce existing laws to safeguard the nation’s natural resources.

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