State House says any decision that the government will make concerning the Lusaka Forest number 27 should be logical and must make legal sense.
Speaking when he featured on the Friday edition of Let the People Talk programme this morning, Presidential Spokesperson Anthony Bwalya has indicated that what happened in Forest 27 is a scandal, improper and an injustice to the fight against climate change but it was done using the law because Former President Edgar Lungu de-gazetted the area.
Reacting to concerns by stakeholders over government’s intentions to re-gazette Forest reserve 27 while allowing the existence of structures in the area instead of demolishing them as promised when in opposition, Mr Bwalya says government cannot be going about breaking the law simply because it wants to be seen to be fulfilling a campaign commitment.
Mr Bwalya is however saddened that the previous regime legitimized an illegality by de-gazetting a piece of land which should have been protected for selfish reasons, a situation he says should never have happened and must not be allowed to repeat itself in future.
“What happened in Forest 27 shouldn’t have happened because diabolical circumstances need to be recognized as the portion of the Forest reserve was given out to private individuals,” he said
Mr Bwalya disclosed that what happened in Forest Reserve number 27 was done for the benefit of a small group of individuals and there’s need to understand the challenges that portion of land was de-gazetted under the hand of President Lungu.
“We now have to firm up the protection of those environments such as the Forest reserve number 27 and other Forests, adding that a good example of this protection is the MoU and Forestry Partnerships that has been signed with the European Union, as it is not something that is only beneficial to the environment but it’s also beneficial to lives and livelihoods, as it protects the integrity of the source that gives us food, the source that is supposed to protect us from floods and holds the vegetation,” he said
Meanwhile, Mr Bwalya has assured the nation that the government is making difficult but responsible decisions to ensure sanity is restored in the fuel supply chain by creating new capacities within the economy and solving problems created by the past regime.
“Fuel is not a commodity that we produce in this country hence, the price of fuel is not determined by in this country, it is determined at the international commodities market, previously, our colleagues who were in the Government had a strategy of which they were putting brakes on the price of fuel at the pump through subsidies, of which on a monthly basis they used to borrow up to 67 million Dollars money which they didn’t have to subsidize fuel, multiplying 67 by 12 months will approximately give you an amount equal to Euro Bond money and this is money that was essentially supposed to be paid back by us the citizens,” Mr Bwalya explained
“And in the midst of all that crisis stated above, a scandal was created when, the international oil prices had started surging and rather than taking the money they were collecting at the pump after subsidizing, to pay back the people who were supplying the fuel, the money was instead diverted and used for other purposes, and by August 2021 rather than just ending up with a debt in terms of loan money that was being taken to subsidize fuel which was equal to the size of a Euro Bond, there was also close to half a billion Dollars arrears which had been accumulated because they could not afford to pay international suppliers, this was a scandal that led into problems,” Mr Bwalya added
Mr Bwalya mentioned that the President Hichilema’s New Dawn Administration had to think candidly about this problem, as to whether or not they could afford to borrow 67 million Dollars per month to subsidize fuel, when teachers and nurses needed to be employed, thus the cutting off of fuel subsidies.