STEVEN MVULA, Parliament
MINISTER of Lands and Natural Resources Jean Kapata yesterday informed Parliament that her ministry is contemplating introducing custodial sentencing for those engaged in illegal trade of the mukula tree
as a way of abating the trend.
And Ms Kapata says of the 466 trucks carrying mukula logs that were recently detained, 194 were found to have no valid documents, and have since been seized.
Ms Kapata said her ministry is working with relevant wings of government to introduce legislation that will provide for custodial sentencing for those engaged in illegal trade of the mukula logs.
The minister was responding to a follow up question from Luangeni member of Parliament Charles Zulu (PF) after she rendered a ministerial statement on the progress made in curbing the indiscriminate cutting of the mukula tree.
Mr Zulu wanted to know what strict measures the ministry will put in place to ensure that the ban on the export of the mukula logs is sustained.
“In the past, there have been several bans such as the ban on tujilijili alcohol. It worked for some time but today, tujilijili is back. What guarantee or measures are you going to put in place to ensure the ban on the export of mukula logs is sustained?” Mr Zulu asked.
And Ms Kapata said the Central Joint Operations Committee (CJOC) is analysing case by case the 194 trucks carrying mukula logs that were found to have no valid documents.
Ms Kapata said those found wanting will be forfeited to the State.
She said Government wants to promote value addition to forest products, especially the mukula tree, as a way of creating jobs for local people.
“We want those who want the mukula tree to come to Zambia and add value to our natural products. This way, our people will be employed, and we will benefit from our resources,” Ms Kapata said.
She appealed to citizens to be patriotic and protect the country’s forest resources.
Meanwhile, Ms Kapata says Government has embarked on an ambitious afforestation programme of planting the mukula tree (on the Copperbelt) despite the fact that the tree takes 100 years to mature.
She was responding to a question by Kabompo MP Ambrose Lufuma (UPND), who wanted to know if Government is taking any measures to plant trees.
Ms Kapata said Government has set up a national tree planting day when each district is required to plant 20 hectares of land with trees.