Former Environmental minister William Harrington says Colonel Panji Kaunda’s exposure over reserve Forest Number 70 stinks of corruption which needs to be investigated by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
Speaking with Daily Revelation on Col Panji’s decision to report the shielding of President Edgar Lungu’s daughter, Tasila, over the alleged fencing of gazetted Forest 70 (Chimutengo Forest) by Lands and Environmental Protection minister Jean Kapata and her permanent secretary Ndashe Yumba to the ACC, Harrington stated that the matter should be investigated in national interest.
“The exposure by Maj. (Col.) Panji Kaunda regarding Chimutengo Forest Reserve No. 70 at Sinda in Eastern Province stinks of corruption. It is an illegality to take over a forest reserve by any citizen just as it is an illegality to take over a game reserve,” Harrington stated. “In fact it is criminal offence to take over a gazetted forest reserve as it is a public property.”
Harrington stated that as a concerned and patriotic citizen, Col Panji had every right to bring the alleged take over of Chimutengo Forest by a named citizen to the ACC for a full investigation in national interest.
“The issue of FR No.70 is no different from the illegalities surrounding the Lusaka East Forest Reserve No.27 where the Patriotic Front government has ‘privatised’ this critical forest area for the benefit of a few politically exposed persons (PEPs) to the disadvantage and detriment of the majority who depend on it for livelihood,” Harrington stated.
Harrington stated that just as Kapata had failed to provide answers concerning Forest No. 70, she had done the same with Forest No. 27, on why a major portion of Forest No.27 had to be degazetted to pave way for a huge residential development, thereby risking the lives of thousands of citizens.
“… but we have not been favoured with a response hence our decision to request the Chief Justice to appoint a tribunal to investigate the matter so that the truth may be established,” Harrington stated. “So the action by Col Panji Kaunda is a welcome one which must be supported by all well-meaning citizens who want to see that our environment and natural resources such as forests and wildlife are protected for the benefit of both present and future generations, for posterity. We can only encourage Kaunda for his efforts and resolve in this regard as he means well for the nation.”
In a letter obtained by Daily Revelation, dated December 17, 2019 addressed to the ACC director general, and filed with the Commission’s offices in Chipata, Col Panji stated that efforts to get Kapata and Yumba to act on the matter had proved futile , despite meeting and formally complaining to them.
You can follow up on the full story we carried of Col Panji’s complaint by clicking this link https://www.dailyrevelationzambia.com/panji-reports-tasila-to-acc-over-forest-70/