Africa-Press – Zambia. Republican Vice President Mutale Nalumango has denied suggestions that she owns land in the controversial Lusaka East Forest Reserve No. 27. Lusaka East Forest Reserve No. 27 is said to be the only public protected area and large natural green space in the immediate proximity of Zambia’s capital city, Lusaka.
It is not very clear how several people acquired plots within the reserve area. Featuring on the first edition of the revived Frank Talk Show on ZNBC TV on Thursday night, Mrs Nalumango said she does not own any property within Forest Number 27.
She was responding to a question from activist and singer Maiko Zulu who was part of the Frank Talk Show audience. Mr. Zulu wanted to find out whether Mrs Nalumango owns property in Forest 27 and whether the UPND government will fulfill its promise of restoring Forest 27 as a reserve area. The Republican Vice President condemned the de-gazetting of Forest 27 and the allocation of plots in the reserve area.
“De-gazetting forest 27, I will start by saying no sir I don’t have not even when I was in government as a minister did get land unfortunately even straight from government. Whatever little piece of land we have we bought from individuals who had titles. So personally you said I am, I don’t know whether I am honest but I am truthful (laughs) because you can choose to define words. No, I own no property and I don’t think it was done in good faith,” Mrs. Nalumango said. She said the allocation of plots in the forest was a drawback as Zambia and the world fights climate change.
“Colleagues you don’t, today with all the issues to do with climate change to start with which is affecting us so negatively and affecting the world. Why? And you see that many people who are in Forest 27, I have no concrete evidence but you will find that these are people who own land elsewhere too. How selfish, how selfish. It was not done in the public interest. It is wrong. It was wrong to de-gazette Forest 27 and like I said there is law but law was made by man,” Mrs. Nalumango said.
She said citizens should allow the law to prevail over the issue of allocating plots in Forest 27. “We are still struggling with how we handle this. If Zambians understood that there is no malice in what we are doing. We should bring down this and allow the law, the right law. This was wrong sir (Maiko Zulu) and I am passionate about that. I don’t care who is there (Forest 27) they may be my relatives, you were wrong to do what you did,” Mrs. Nalumango said.
The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources last September halted all development projects taking place at Lusaka East Forest Reserve No. 27. This was in order for the New Dawn government to find out how plots were acquired within the reserve area.
Lands and Natural Resources Minister Elijah Muchima instructed the director of the commission of lands to take stock of all activities that have been happening at the forest reserve.
Mr. Muchima expressed sadness over the amount of land that has been taken up for development in Lusaka East Forest Reserve No. 27 which is also called Chalimbana system recharge area.
Local Government and Rural Development Minister Garry Nkombo who was with Mr. Muchima at the time said the government will ensure it protects the recharge area in order to help people around Chalimbana and Chongwe river areas. Meanwhile, when the UPND was in opposition Mr. Nkombo promised that after forming Government the UPND would restore Forest 27 as a reserve area.