Lands and Natural Resources Minister Jean Kapata has told parliament that the United Party for National Development(UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema also has a piece of land in Forest 26 which was also excised from Forest 27 .
Ms. Kapata was responding the nominated Member of Parliament, Rapheal Nakachinda in Parliament who wanted to know those that have been allocated in Forest 27
This was after delivering a ministerial statement on a point of order that was raised by Mazabuka Member of Parliament Gary Nkombo on the status of forest number 27 in Parliament.
Ms. Kapata said government Degazzetted Lusaka East local forest number 27 to allow the Lusaka district to meet the growing development needs.
President Lungu signed SI No 62 of 2017 degazetting of the Forest number 27.
Critics of the Forest 27 wondered why President signed what they termed a destructive SI, knowing very well that forest reserve 27 is the only forest remaining in Lusaka and a recharge area for Chalimbana and Chongwe rivers.
Critics further argue that all the Zambian Presidents, from Kenneth Kaunda, FTJ Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa, Rupiah Banda, to Sata, resisted and protected this forest from land scavengers and wondered why President Lungu had seen it fit to Degazatte the forest and have it shared as plots, disregarding the danger and risks involved in what they described as a careless decision
According to reports, the Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) wrote a letter to Lusaka Province Planning Authority and expressed serious concerns regarding this development since Forest Number 27 is a groundwater recharge area and also feeds the river systems in the Chalimbana sub-catchment:
“Degazetting this forest for residential plots will threaten water resource availability as this may result in some water sources drying up. As such, WARMA is considering declaring Forest 27 as a Water Resource Protection Area as provided in section 29(1) and 93(1) of the WRM Act. We write to your office seeking confirmation if indeed Forest Number 27 is Degazatted and if there are plans from your Planning Authority to develop this area as depicted in the attached map from Murray Anderson”.
Critics further advised that if President Lungu had nothing to benefit from forest 27 and was misled by his minister of Lands, he should quickly rescind his decision to Degazatte forest 27 as it was not late, adding that all the developments done so far in the forest reserve be stopped and the process of getting that land back into a forest be started, and that all those who own plots in this forest must pay for the cost of restoring that land back into a forest reserve.