The former environment and natural resources minister said it demonstrates the Patriotic Front government’s not only lack of seriousness and concern on environmental protection and natural resources conservation but also for lives of the affected people.
Vice-President Wina was responding to a question from Katombora UPND member of parliament Derrick Luvine who wanted to know if the Forest Reserve had been de-gazetted.
Harrington said in the very first place, Vice President Wina should have declared interest as she is a beneficiary of the illegality going on in the forest reserve.
In her response, the VP told the House that Forest Reserve No. 27 had not been de-gazetted but that only part of it had been hived-off to pave way for housing developments by a few selected citizens including herself, Jean Kapata (lands minister), Dr Patrick Matibini (Speaker of the National Assembly), Irene Mambilima (Chief Justice), Richard Musukwa (Mines minister), Japhen Mwakalombe (Copperbelt minister), Harry Findlay and many others who may be politically connected.
He said the Vice-President’s response demonstrated the PF government’s insensitivity about the plight of the local inhabitants of Chalimbana and Chongwe who petitioned second Republican president Dr Frederick Chiluba in 1994 to re-gazette the forest reserve in its entirety.
Harrington said this was after it was de-gazetted by first Republican president Dr Kenneth Kaunda to facilitate the liberation struggle of some countries in the region.
He said the PF government had ignored the fact that over 2,500 local farmers and residents petitioned Dr Chiluba to re-gazette Forest Reserve No. 27 as a matter of urgency to save it from further destruction and to take all necessary measures to protect the environment and the drying up of water resources in the catchment area.
“Therefore, for Vice-President Inonge Wina to justify the hiving-off of only part of the Forest Reserve so as to pave way for residential occupation, as she puts it, is most unfortunate because any such developments will impact very negatively on the sustainable livelihoods of present and future generations,” Harrington said.
“I will still insist that any and all development in the Forest Reserve will remain an illegality as there was no environment impact assessment (EIA) undertaken by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) as by law demanded. The Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) and the Director of Forestry were also never consulted and therefore could have not given approval for any development. The demarked plots were also never advertised for the benefit of the general citizenry.”