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Alba Iulia
Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Peddling in Mukula Trade or Defamation- The EIA Report

Columns Peddling in Mukula Trade or Defamation- The EIA Report

President Edgar Lungu inspects Mukula tree recovered By ZambiaNational Services officers at Lwanshimba Camp in Northern Province

 

By Amb. Emmanuel Mwamba

I saw it when it was just released but did not pay any attention to it.

Because there are so many propaganda stories against Zambia, against President Edgar Lungu and his government doing the rounds.

Many are poorly done that they don’t deserve a mention. While others have had a semblance of importance such as one on foreign debt, on corruption, the rule of law and now Mukula.

But I decided to take a second and critical look at this after the story gained traction and was trending worldwide on the back of an original story done by Agence France-Presse (AFP), a global news agency.

A look at the Report titled; “MUKULA CARTEL, How Timber Trafficking Networks Plunder Zambian Forest”, because of its structure, and the depiction of characteristic cartoon figures of the personalities under discussion, one would think it was done by the highly credible International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which released the Paradise Papers.

The Paradise Papers were a set of 13.4 million confidential electronic and banking documents relating to offshore investments for persons and entities avoiding taxes, that were leaked to newspapers worldwide but shared by the ICOIJ which also implicated Zambia’s Opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema.

It is clear that this report was designed to mimic the ICOIJ Report.

But a casual look at this Report immediately revealed that it was done poorly, unlike the Paradise Papers, has no credible and multiple sources, bears no proof of documents to the sensational allegations made and shows no bank accounts, international transfers receipt evidence, or any shipping documents showing any of the persons cited as the cartel behind it.

The entire report seems to rely on two witness personalities, a Mr. D(who sounds like an Asian national) claiming that he harvests the Mukula trees and pays “people connected or close to President Edgar Lungu”.

When he is queried further whether he has personally seen or met President Lungu, he stated that he only deals with those “close to the President”.

Another similar witness, on the same line also implicates Tasila Lungu, the daughter of the President by bandying her name around but without demonstrating evidence of involvement or transactions.

So the evidence is clearly thin and not reliable!

So then, if the Report is not credible, if both the video evidence and written Report have not demonstrated proof to the damaging revelations and allegations being purveyed, why is AFP, News 24, Yahoo News and other international news outlet giving it credence and carrying it as breaking news against the Zambian President?

It became clear that the Report has been carried without being subjected to a verification process because of the credible weight of the agency behind the allegations; Environmental Investigative Agency (EIA).

Allan Thornton, who was recently awarded the Order of the British Empire(OBE) by the Queen, is an environment activist, who owns and is co-founder of the agency.

The Canadian-born Thornton is the founder of EIA, which dedicates its work to covertly investigating environmental crimes with special attention to wildlife trade threatening endangered species and illegal logging.

The agency regularly publishes such reports to expose the alleged crimes.

WHAT HAS PRESIDENT LUNGU DONE ABOUT MUKULA?

In 2017, President Lungu was so alarmed at the threat to hard woods including Mukula that he banned their cutting, transportation and trade.

Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Jean Kapata was also directed to issue a Statutory Instrument(SI) that barred the transiting of Mukula tree logs in Zambia as neighbouring countries trade in it.

She bemoaned the loopholes in the Forest Act of 1973 that restricted the harvesting of major forest products without licence.

This Act allows local and surrounding communities to the protected forests, to harvest the products for domestic use.

But the communities usually fuel the illegal trade especially in Rosewood, Zambezi tik, Mukula, Mukwa and other hardwoods.

Since 2005, bans (on production,  conveyance or export) have been the preferred measure used by the Forestry Department, possibly due to constrained capacity and has regularly placed the mukwa tree — one of the most harvested species — for fear of over-exploitation on the banned list.

And at the meeting in 2017 of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Zambia and President Lungu, upported the total ban on commercial trade of pangolins, the African grey parrot, and strongly upported to restrict the international trade of all rosewood species within the genus Dalbergia — which includes Mukula.

IS THERE ILLEGAL TRADE IN MUKULA IN ZAMBIA?

In 2018, a research paper; “Informality, global capital, rural development and the environment”; Mukula(Rosewood) Trade-in Zambia, supported by the UK Economic and Research Council established that the trade was being fueled because of Zambia’s weak policy and cited factors driving the illegal trade;
(1) rent-seeking behaviour at the political level, facilitated and reinforced by the
legal ambiguity of regulations;

(2) rent-seeking behaviour among decentralised officials at lower levels of government;

(3) And constrained capacity of the Forestry Department (FD) to implement the regulations it is tasked with.

WHAT IS THE STATUS OF MUKULA TRADE NOW

Government banned the harvesting, transportation, trading and exportation of mukula tree in accordance with Statutory Instrument (SI) number 94 of 2015, but allowed Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation Limited(ZAFFICCO) to sale confiscated Mukula logs.

It is therefore incumbent that ZAFFICCO reports the result of this process in a transparent manner to avoid sensational innuendos like this Report trending.

CONCLUSION

It is clear that President Lungu has shown commitment to fighting Zambia’s deforestation. He has embarked on an ambitious program of planting one million trees per province.

He has also supported the international restriction of Mukula trade through the CITES Convention of COP 17 held in Johannesburg.

He has also banned the illegal sale of Mukula in Zambia.

It is therefore inconceivable, that the person that has protected the Mukula specie through these official actions, could be the one perpetrating the illegal sale as alleged in the Report.

It must be stated that it is admissible that illegal trade in Mukula could probably be taking place because of the weaknesses cited above.

But for a respected agency to allege without proof, without proffering evidence and without supporting the allegations with credible evidence, raises a fundamental question.

What is the motive? What is the reason?, What is the purpose or cause of releasing such a fabricated report?

Is it to expose the illegal trade in an endangered wildlife specie?

Or is to deliberately sully, soil, and damage the local and international image of President Lungu for political reasons? Since the country will be preparing for the crucial presidential and general elections of 2021?

And for Mr. D and the people he allegedly pays that he claims are close to the President, kindly name them, and report this matter to both the media and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) so that the long arm of law can prosecute them.

Because the hazards of the presidency is that, people will steal, lie, destroy, pillage and plunder in his name.

Let us discuss this..

The author is Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa(ECA)

49 COMMENTS

  1. Zambia needs way better leadership in the ruling party and opposition. Like I have said before they are both equally useless. General Miyanda would have been an amazing president. Well he is too honest for Zambia.

    • It is well written, we all agree that Ba Edgar Lungu has never a day he went in bush with an ax to cut down those hard-trees. Infact he is very lazy he can’t even cut down a pawpaw tree.
      I think those who are writing to “help” Ba Edgar are just adding more dirty the humble man.
      # Just few month ago, Kambwili questioned why a drug traffic is always on same airplane with Ba Edgar who is PF-government President. Kambwili has helped chance drug traffickers from State house.
      Yes the list of “defamation” is long. Why Emmanuel also say calling for removal of notorious criminal Kaizer from Ba Edgar’s life is it defamation?
      Let the list and more reports be pushed, it is to help the man Edgar.

    • Actually I wondered when the report said their only attempt to verify their story with the mentioned individuals was by a query left at the Zambian Embassy in Washington. That’s where my emotional anger melted, as it became clear that this was an amateur attempt at investigative Journalism.

    • Yawn. Emmanuel, we all know that you are more concerned about filling you stomach and pockets. I can see you have written this piece because sunday chsmda’s jibberish was just aweful. Despite your attempts to seem to be putting for a case, we all see through you little ruse. Trying all sorts of gymnastics to try and impress lungu and perhaps save his reputation, all the while hoping he will give you a ministerial position

    • : Guyz, my energy is dwindling politically, the mines I sold you in which I am a shareholder are now a Thorn in my @ss.
      Imperial 1: Is that why you’re having nausea and morning sickness every damn day?
      Imperial 2: He is cluesless. This will be a 6th yeah?
      H²: y….es
      Imperial 1: What’s done you bad is ICIJ report.
      Imperial 2: I am sure your president is vulnerable, think h².
      : Can we create a mirror assault story equal in force and appeal. I am dead.
      Imperial 1: You’re not dead, we will sort this out. Thorn in the Flesh calls you dead. Don’t openly concede. Your president must have a weakness.
      : Not that I am aware of. I need something to label him a thief. Something that will coverup…

    • … my misdeeds in the mines.
      Imperial 2: but he is not a thief like you, right?
      : Right. But I need to rule, I must rule. Losing will be embarrassing. 6th time? Maybe we use a maize scandle.
      Imperial 1: what maize scandle? No that is weak. It sounds weak.
      Imperial 2: This guy h² is weak. He s.u.c.k.s! He can’t think independently.
      Imperial 1: Easy Imperial 2, we need to help h² not label him weak. I have a plan. Forget the corruption claims on your president. You don’t have grounds. No evidence. Plus you can tell that your people back home are against homosexuality and you’re dented.
      : Okay, lets try the MUKULA Scandle. It is still fresh. It goes like this *whispering*
      Imperial 2: Now you have a…

    • … quarter brain. EIA will make it legit. Smear campaign! Whoa! I love this. Let’s get it on. This better work. You h² owes us a lot, this ought to work.I need my money you hear?
      : I hope the EIA will be as good as the ICIJ. *Thinking* I hope this one works, I h², have suffered at the election beating by ECL at the polls. I envy him mwe!

    • This Amb. Emmanuel Mwamba needs to reprimanded, doesn’t he know that he is a civil servant, he is not a Party media spokesman like Sunday or a Presidential spokesman. Do you think Foote would write an article like this about Trump’s impeachment case? Can you imagine what would happen if a Choma civil servant wrote an article praising HH. The problem with this moron is that he is very ambitious even in Ethiopia he still feels he has not been rewarded adequately by his appointees and wants a job in Lusaka. No one can trust him, he failed to stand for Matero seat when he was told he had to resign from the comforts of the SA embassy he backtracked on his decision.

    • Nzelu…I’ve always said General Miyanda would be a great president…as well as Nevers Mumba. Both would be much better than the clown we have in the white house right now.

    • UPND is a Satanist H-organisation run by a Satanist leader. He is a promoter of Sex H-against H-order of nature. My foot!

  2. Just resign ma fella namwe kwena mwe! See your partners in the West have a conscience and they are tired – that is why they are now whistleblowing. Nanga ni kudyelatu na ma bonzo!??? It’s enough – just resign and retire to your big mansions (we shall see if you will maintain them pela).

  3. I know that Emmanuel Mwamba is not the Press Aid but this piece is great. He has analysed the report and given us a clear doubt of the report. Yes Amb. Mwamba this is how those chosen as Press Aids should respond when there is something concerning the president or presidency is out of the box.

    • You know that Mwamba is not a Press Aid but he is a civil servant which is even worse for him and his position. You have never read the civil service charter or code or understand what it entails. Too many dullards online today with powerful smartphones.

  4. Its easy for credible African leaders like Paul Kagame to hit back or rebuff the claims. But with ECL its just not possible.

    • UPND should consider hiring the calibre of Amb. Mwamba in their media team. He is simply cut from a rare cloth of journalism. I now understand why His Excellence President FTJ Chiluba was good at publicity. Equally the presidency requires this guy in order to defend the president and the presidency. Remember I am not talking about individuals but the institutions. He knows how to defend the presidency unlike some bootlicker somewhere who will even say ” Chief Commander of the armed forces” as if to remind both the president and security wing that he is the boss and should use his authority.

  5. What allegations have you ever accepted as a government and apologised? You claim that all allegations are falsehood. Man up and correct your mistakes!

    • Boss there is nothing to man up for. The West has decided to hit on our government and we all know they are powerful boss. Corruption is everywhere even in the USA, UK etc. Our leaders are smeared in deep mud without any proof just to force regime change. Yes there is something wrong because our leaders are not very good at responding to this propaganda. Let’s support our leaders deal with actual issues of hunger, load shedding instead of these mere allegations.

    • @6.2 JJ Mwanamuchende,That sounds like “The guilty are afraid” if a leader is falsely accused,they sue and claim to clear their name.KK did it against a British Newspaper and yet he was a harsh critic of the British Govt at that time.He won the case and donoted the compensation payment to Charity! Jean Kapata has threatened to sue and we are waiting we wonder why our lawyer doesn’t want to take on the publishers if he is innocent ??

  6. Too many scandals around you Mr. president. Just step down because citizens have no confidence in your ability to continue. Are you really the only person that can lead our country? There must be others who are better qualified.
    There’s no smoke without fire!!

    • Not in Zambia, even the millionaire GBM had to crawl back into politics as he couldn’t live without government contracts

  7. The argument that because ecl banned the commercial activities of mukulu so how would he then be involved under cover commercial acitiviries of it. This is ludicrous. It’s called not walking the talk. Example you saying more money in your pocket which is talk and then doing more taxes in your pocket. I hired pf to put more mukula money in xxxxx pocket

  8. The Commander in Thief gave you the job in Ethiopia duh!!!
    Dora Siliya rightly said that from her experience as Ambassador to Egypt, Ambassadors have so much time on their hands. Mwamba has so much time to waste as observed from his many writings on social media. The man spends the whole day on social media. It’s obvious you’ll defend Lungu.

  9. I know i’m not cut out to be a president but, if l relinguish power bafee Colour you will put me in jail. Thats why i like ichi mwaiche chi kaizer chilambikamo boo steele.

  10. instead of issuing useless essays, let the Government deny nor confirm the alegations and take the matter up with the source! this essay does not even come close to what the report has indicated!

  11. Allan Thornton, who was recently awarded the Order of the British Empire(OBE) by the Queen, is an environment activist, who owns and is co-founder of the agency.

    The Canadian-born Thornton is the founder of EIA, which dedicates its work to covertly investigating environmental crimes with special attention to wildlife trade threatening endangered species and illegal logging.

    The agency regularly publishes such reports to expose the alleged crimes.

  12. Remember earlier in the year a Chinese woman journalist did a simple fact check. In China she it recorded at xustoms that china imported 89 million usd worth of mukula. Last year durung banned period. In Zambia she found our customs recorded 1 million dollars was exported to china. Plunder

  13. Is Allan Thornton and the agency (who was recently awarded the Order of the British Empire(OBE) by the Queen, is an environment activist, who owns and is co-founder of the agency )credible? Can he be brought by the opposition?

    • Indeed, let’s see if lungu will sue him or will he chicken out like he does on the corrupt thief allegations????

  14. This mukuka issue is for real…believe it or not its for real….there’s just no smoke without fire…a lot has been said and heard….

  15. Do you expect any beneficiary of government employment agreeing to this report but immediately they are out of power he will be the first one saying I tried to warn the president not to do this but he didn’t listen.

  16. “… Kapata was also directed to issue a Statutory Instrument(SI) that barred the transiting of Mukula tree logs in Zambia as neighbouring countries trade in it…”

    But you mr mwamba , just a month ago the same jean Kapata was boosting how much money her ministry has raised from charging transite fees for timber including hardwoods from neighbouring countries,

    We are now confused

  17. He did not analyze anything. His was a pathetic attempt to cast doubt on the report. Emmanuel’s argument that a person who supported regulation cannot be the one violating is simply laughable. How many times has Chagwa said something and later go back on the same?

    Chagwa was minister of home affairs when Sata prevented Chitimukulu from ascending to the thrown who was sneaking behind the order to the paramount chief?

    Chagwa knows who brutally murdered Mbandu. He sat on the evidence because of who was behind it.

    This guy is indefensible!

  18. Ba Mwamba,some of things are better left to be defended by those rightly employed to do so! You neither the Political Advisor,Press Aid nor Party Spokesperson. You have already given a reason why it is possible for Mr.Lungu and some of his Cabinet Ministers can get involved in illicit Mukula Trade – ” Rent seeking (corrupt) behavior…” LET THOSE ACCUSED TAKE A COLLECTIVE LEGAL SUIT AGAINST THE PUBLISHER SO THAT SEE HOW CLEAN THEY ARE?! Remember how Chiluba opened a can of worms when he sued the post,till his immunity was lifted.WE ARE WAITING FOR A SIMILAR SCENARIO- well done Jean Kapata for planning to sue!!

  19. First time I’ve read one of Amb Mwamba’s articles and I have to admit that I’m impressed by the intelligent way he has presented this case.
    It makes Sunday Chanda looks like he has never been to school.
    Even if the Ambassador is defending his boss , at least , this is the way to do it .

  20. We are waiting to see if the lungus are innocent…….

    Let them sue for defermation…….

    They know the owners of that information…….

    Ba lungu and TS , prove your innocence..

  21. The mouths of the guilty are always restless and inadvertently implicate themselves further! Smart thieves keep quiet when faced with evidence they know is true!
    Is it right for Mwamba to be a civil servant and politician at the same time? Why is he not being retired in the public interest like they have done with others on mere suspicion?

  22. African leaders are a target of western propaganda. Tony Blair recently admitted to how Britain wrongly relied on unreliable American intelligence and helped America invade Iraq, where the country was destroyed yet he freely moves around. Mugabe was falsely accused of siphoning billions from his country and making Zimbabweans starve yet the man only had $10m to his name and a few properties. It’s the same for Museveni. African opposition has been infiltrated by Western sponsors but sadly the puppets they handpick fail to connect with grassroots.

  23. Emmanuel Mwamba is a douchebag. Surely, TIZ a non-governmental organisation would publish a story without fact checking. Logic should be applied here, if you can’t use logic, have some decency of using common sense. If you do have evidence that proves otherwise, show us and prove that is not so. Otherwise this is just Emmanuel Mwamba being Emmanuel Mwamba.
    Just fixing bellies all the time.

Comments are closed.

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