UPND Whip Garry Nkombo says he is convinced that President Edgar Lungu has something to do with mukula trucks which were intercepted by PF cadres in Shimabala.

And Nkombo says he will meet the “young morons” who accused him of being involved in illegal exportation of mukula will meet him in court.

At a media briefing today, Nkombo, who witnessed the cadres taking control of the nine trucks which were loaded with Mukula on Friday night, disclosed that the Ministry of Lands wrote a letter, which was copied to President Lungu, to all provincial forestry heads asking them to move seized mukula logs from “unsafe” to “safe” areas within a 100km radius.

“To begin with, we would like to state that on 27th March this year, President Lungu and Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Jean Kapata signed an SI to criminalise harvest and transportation of Mukula tree on Zambian soil. We also know that at that time, a lot of Mukula tree whose quantity we do not know was seized and left in the respective areas at the time when the SI was signed, presumably in each district, it was seized to the police stations or safe places. We also know that when seized goods are to be disposed off, there is a public process, namely auction and we also know that when the auction is done, the proceeds go back to government coffers,” Nkombo said.

“Now what is prevailing is that on the 21st of December this year, Mr Ignitious Makumba, the director of forestry in the Ministry of Lands did issue a letter to all provincial forestry officers and also copied this letter to honorable Minister of Lands Ms Jean Kapata, copied this letter to the chairperson of the central joint operations committee for the defence forces and copied to the intelligence, commonly known as the OP. which means that Ms Kapata and the President, Mr Lungu are aware about the contents of this letter. This letter was basically giving instructions to permit movement of this mukula tree form what they called unsafe places to safe places within the country and it was to happen within a period of one month. This exercise, according to the letter that is in our possession, is supposed to have finished by 21st January 2018.”

He raised a number of questions on the transportation of the logs.

“We have a few questions before we come to the allegations that have occasioned me to call for this briefing. When mukula is seized, it is seized to the police so at what point did they determine that the police stations were unsafe places for the mukula tree and who made that decision and was it made in public or was it made in private?
We also want to know how mukula could suddenly be declared insecure within the borders and boundaries of the country. The letter was quite specific that the mukula was supposed to move not more than 100Km from wherever it was. We would like to know from Ms Kapata and also from President Lungu where those eight trucks, which I personally witnessed here in Shimabala having been seized by the vigilant PF youths chanting slogans that they knew who was involved in this transportation and illegal activity and that they wanted to dent the name of the president and the names that were coming out were Kaizer Zulu and Jean Kapata,” Nkombo said.

“I would like to know what the consignment note on those documents that the PF cadres are saying in terms of where the logs were coming from, where they were loaded, where they were going and who was responsible for it. We also would like to know from Mr Lungu and Ms Kapata, because those are the two who were quoted in this letter, that if someone thought that the mukula was unsafe in Lusaka, was it then going to be secure in border towns? We want those questioned answered because mukula was leaving Lusaka where we have the largest infrastructure in terms of warehousing, so we want them to tell us in no uncertain terms how they determined that mukula would be safer in border towns. We would also like to know how possible it is that the homa affairs Minister who is the chief of police would not have been copied in this letter that Makumba wrote to minister Jean Kapata and yet they claim to have the doctrine of corporate responsibility since they come from the same Cabinet.”

He wondered why Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo had expressed shock on the movement of the trucks.

“How come Mr Kampyongo is now claiming surprise that there was movement of timber when the central joint coporation, partly the police, the army and ZNS, we would like those questions to be answered. We would also like to know from Mr Makumba, the originator of this letter why he labeled it confidential, we think that is where the trick lies, it was labeled confidential for a public matter. They have to tell the country when they did the auction, who the bidders were, who the awards were given to so that we know that this process was transparent and we can drift away from this madness of morons dragging innocent people into criminal activities such as myself. We would like to know why President Lungu is expressing surprise on the consignment and movement of this cargo when his office was copied in the letter that I am referring to. We would like him to explain,” he said.

Nkombo said he was convinced President Lungu was involved in the transaction, cautioning PF youths to be careful whom they were protecting.

“And I would like to take this opportunity to commend the PF youths and tell them that it is not safe to make Dracula the head of the blood bank. The person whose image they are trying to protect, we think, we are convinced he is involved in this mukula trade,” he said.

“And there is nothing that they will say to prove to us, by dragging some of our names into this scandal. They have run out of ideas, the idea of bringing some of us into this is to deflect the attention of society from the real criminal issues and you know very well ladies and gentlemen that when a government is wrong, it is very dangerous to be on the right side. This is where we are some of us.”
And Nkombo said he would sue the PF youths who accused him of being involved in the mukula exportation.

“I did meet with PF youths because I live just across here, which is under 2Km from where everything was happening, I was driving home. I found eight trucks, a horde of hoodlums, PF chanting slogans, brandishing guns and I was approached by one young girl who called herself commander with her brother, the one who was quoted on Prime TV complaining about this Mukula tree. She was very polite in the beginning until we differed. She told me, ‘honorable, you better go back to Lusaka’ because she was ignorant of the fact that I live here, which is a kilometer from where they seized the trucks. She told me ‘go back to Lusaka because we don’t want to make this matter political. This is a PF affair’, while the police were watching helplessly,” he narrated.

“I saw more than 30 to 40 policemen just watching PF boys and girls do their thing. I commend the PF boys and girls for doing their thing but I want to state that the two who appeared on Prime TV and myself are going to meet in court and this isn’t a joke because they have dragged my name into their own boss’ criminal activity. They spoke about phone calls, they challenged me to talk about speaking to Stephen Kampyongo, I have just said to you, Stephen is the Minister of Home Affairs. I last spoke to Stephen Kampyongo at 12:00 hours on Friday. My conversation with Stephen Kampyongo was addressing one issue because his police in Kapiri had denied the local member of parliament Mr Stanley Kakubo to interact with his constituency at a church service. They wanted to cancel a scheduled church meeting which Mr Kakubo was going to address. He called me as his party whip to complain that he didn’t want to be in conflict with the law and that when he called minister Kampyongo, minister Kampyongo answered that it was a matter for the commissioner to deal with and the commissioner told Mr Kakubo, this is a matter that only the above powers can deal with so I had to take the responsibility to talk to Kampyongo and I spoke to him and he unlocked that matter, Mr Kakubo had his meeting yesterday.”

Nkombo also revealed he had called President Lungu’s press aide Amos Chanda to tell him that PF officials were hypocrites after meeting the PF youths.

“Now, if the PF youths went and found out that I did speak to Mr Kampyongo, why have they not spoken about the phone call that I made to Mr Amos Chanda? Because soon after I met the trucks, I called Mr Amos Chanda at 23:00 hours on Friday night. And my call to Mr Amos Chanda was basically to say ‘you guys are hypocrites. You guys are aware that Mukula is moving because your own cadres have arrested some trucks’. I spoke to Mr Amos Chanda and it is something he cannot deny. He expressed ignorance about the movement of that mukula. This is the press aide to the president and this is why I am saying someone here is pretending. Either Mr Makumba, the originator of this letter and Ms Kapata are playing games by not giving that copy which they indicated was copied to the Office of the President or the President himself is playing a game,” said Nkombo.

“And we will not allow that. We simply will not permit them to drag names of people like myself into their illegal activities. I refuse to be dragged in. those young morons from PF who mentioned my name are going to meet me in court. Not that I want anything out of them, but I want them to be socially responsible and to use them as a lesson that people take time to build their integrity, they cannot bring [down] the way the terrorists brought down the twin towers in New York…my name does not have any criminality whatsoever and my business with the people in PF, those in government is strictly with governance issues only, not social. You will not find me socializing with anyone of them. So if I cannot socialize with them, why then would I get involved in illegal economic activities? That is an insult and it should be treated with the contempt it deserves.”