German Ambassador to Zambia Achim Burkart has advised the government to stop those subdividing Forest 27, as there are a lot of other places to build houses.
And Ambassador Burkart said there would be uproar in German if the Head of State there behaved in the same manner as President Edgar Lungu to refer as debatable the Constitutional Court ruling for ordering ministers to repay the money they illegally accrued after dissolution of Parliament.
Speaking with the Daily Revelation in an exclusive interview, Ambassador Burkart cautioned those holding public offices to be careful with their actions by always doing that which was right.
A number of prominent personalities including, Cabinet ministers, Chief Justice, Speaker of the National Assembly, President Lungu’s associates among others have been shared land in Forest Reserve Number 27, an issue that that raised significant opposition from environmentalists and the general public.
The German Ambassador advised against ripping off forest areas, especially in places such as Lusaka which was still a developing city.
He called for the preservation of nature not only in Lusaka but across the country, adding that German had learnt harsh lessons from the practice.
“It disturbs my mind that Haile Selassie Lane will be a four-way lane, and all these trees will be cut [off],” Ambassador Burkart wondered. “I hope Forest 27, which is important to water reserves will be kept alive. There are a lot of places to develop houses.”
In his speech to Parliament in September, 2019, President Lungu talked about reforesting water reticulation areas, and that measures would be taken to stop infrastructure development in such areas.
Former minister of transport and communications, William Harrington has thus petitioned President Lungu to stop the environmental degradation and corruption taking place at Lusaka East local forest reserve No.27 where senior government officials and businessmen have been allocated land.
Harrington took a step further by petitioning Chief Justice Irene Mambilima to appoint a tribunal to investigate Lands minister Jean Kapata who is also alleged to be an accomplice in the Forest Reserve saga.
And on President Lungu’s statement that it was debatable, the recent Constitutional Court ruling that ordered his ministers to repay the money they earned illegally for staying in office after dissolution of Parliament in 2016, Ambassador Burkart advised the President to respect the court judgment.
“If you would have that in German [failing to respect a court judgment], it would be uproar because of the respect [citizens have] for the Judiciary. You don’t have to love what they (judiciary)say, [but] the Judiciary in the country should be respected. As a lawyer, if there is a law saying you have to be dismissed as a minister (for doing something wrong), then you be dismissed,” Ambassador Burkart said. “In principle he (President Lungu) says someone worked and have to be paid. And it’s true. (But he) has to find a way of saying ‘you pay back….but have an indemnity for that.’”
President Lungu recently referred to the court ruling as debatable during his interaction with the media at State House.