Lands and Natural Resources Minister Jean Kapata says some traditional leaders and other individuals who know the value of Mukula have been involved in the illegal exportation of the logs.

However, during an interview the minister refused to name the chiefs involved

“The Mukula itself is on total ban, nobody will be able to export the Mukula unless through government. This is a situation where a few individuals that knew the value of the Mukula tree were the only ones that were benefiting. I don’t want to go into mentioning names of the people but some traditional leaders were involved and a few Zambians,” she said.

She claimed that the ban had helped minimise the smuggling.

“Now you don’t hear so many stories that Mukula is being smuggled. Before, each time you opened a newspaper or a radio station, everywhere left right and centre, you saw that people were trying to smuggle Mukula from Zambia to other parts, to the far east. Since the ban and the coming in of the security wing, we have actually managed to stop this trend. At the moment we are encouraging people where the Mukula goes in the eastern part of the world, let them come into Zambia to come and open up factories so that we have value addition. In having that value addition, we will have created so many jobs for the much needed jobs that we need in this country,” Kapata said.

Kapata who is also Mandevu PF member of parliament charged that a Zambia association was also involved in the illegal sale of Mukala on behalf of some Chinese nationals.

“And even for the association that has been crying at the moment, they are just a back, most of them are a front of Chinese nationals and they are not doing it for themselves. They are doing it on behalf of other people. And as government we have said we want this Mukula to be government driven so that the money can benefit every Zambian than benefiting just few individuals who know how expensive that tree is. So, this is where we are, the ban stands and we are not going to lift it, not today,” she said.

Asked if she knew the owner of Mukula logs impounded at Garden Police Station, where she is member of parliament, Kapata said over 200 trucks loaded with Mukula had been impounded countrywide.

“The Mukula that is being mentioned as moving from Zambia going to the east, its the one that was impounded, we impounded a lot of trucks almost about 200 plus trucks and some of the Mukula were left lying in the bush which the Ministry handed over to ZAFFICO (Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation) because ZAFFICO has done it in the past, they’ve sold on behalf of government. They are the only people that are mandated to sale Mukula on behalf of government with the help of the security wings. The security wings are following to make sure that ZAFFICO also is doing the right thing,” Kapata said.

“I want to take this opportunity to actually warn the transporters that once we impound a truck that is laden with Mukula, this time around we are not going to be releasing the trucks, we will seize the trucks because we’ve warned the truckers not to agree to transport Mukula.”

She said those interested into the Mukula should come into Zambia and open up factories for the country’s value addition.

“I can give you a very good example, I personally have given an export permit to Sikale, Sikale is a company in Zambia that does finished products and this is what the government is looking for. People that can come and give us the finished products because when you go to the far east, just a small table from Zambian wood is costing more than $50,000. So why shouldn’t that table be bought here in Zambia and taken to the far east?” asked Kapata.