Former Minister of Transport and Communications William Harrington has insisted that he has evidence to prove that Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini, Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima and Lands Minster Jean Kapata are among the top government officials with plots in Forest Reserve number 27.
And Harrington says Zambia’s future will remain uncertain as long as ministers are unable to assist the President to make enlightened and educated decisions and members of parliament whose only preoccupation is chatting on their cell phones in the House instead of concentrating on debates.
Speaking when featured on Prime Television’s Oxygen of Democracy programme, Monday evening, Harrington lamented that there was too much politics in the way land was being administered in Zambia.
“There is almost 110 plots in that forest reserve, which have been allocated to people in the Judiciary. The highest office in the Judiciary, and also the highest office in the National Assembly, and I have the names. These are plots for development from which some people, including the Chief Justice, Mr Speaker, the Minister Jean Kapata herself have got plots and I have got all the details to that effect. I have got the certificate of title numbers. Mr Japhen Mwakalombe, the MP for Chongwe, also has a plot there! People have been awarded plots there. But normally, when you start allocating plots in an area like that one, you have to advertise, they should advertise for you and I to apply. But there was no advert, and to the best of my knowledge, those plots were never advertised in any media for the benefit of the public,” Harrington said.
“So, that’s part of land maladministration. The whole thing for me is an illegality, the way plots were awarded to people there, it’s an illegality. There is just too much politics in this country, we are forgetting a very important sector of the economy, which is the socio-economic sector where there is the environment. And for some reason, we are not paying the due attention to environmental issues and we talk about sustainable development. The issue of land is just not clearly defined and now there is just too much vested interest in land allocation. Land is not being administered properly. It’s part of politics, cadres want land, there is a big demand for plots and the government has other pressure to allocate plots to people who need them and that’s where the problem is. We are not taking due regard of environmental issues.”
Harrington challenged Minister of Water Development and Environmental Protection Lloyd Kaziya to give government’s position on this matter.
“I would challenge the Minister of Water Development to issue a full Ministerial statement in Parliament and explain what his Ministry is doing about that issue of that forest. As a minister responsible for water affairs in this country, I would like him to tell us that. Some of us were brave enough to tell the President when he’s right and he’s wrong. But do we have that type of ministers today in government? Maybe, very few. I don’t sit in Cabinet so I don’t know if we have such ministers. But if we had ministers who are principled, they would have advised President Lungu to withdraw the SI and to cancel it forthworth. But we don’t have [such ministers],” he said.
“People are too selfish, they do things for selfish interests! The people who allocate themselves plots, that’s being selfish. These are selfish considerations, not taking into account the interests and the welfare of the local inhabitants in Chalimbana and Chongwe. So, I am declaring interest in this matter because I was Minister of Environment and Natural Resources who encouraged the President and I am also a concerned citizen. We need decisive action from politicians, from our ministers to the President, they need to be decisive over this one. Don’t turn a blind eye because some senior officials and some of his friends have got plots there.”
Meanwhile, Harrington said the future of Zambian generations to come would remain uncertain if government officials did not advise President Lungu correctly.
“For as long as we have ministers who are unable to assist the President to make enlightened and educated decisions; for as long as we have people who surround the President with smiles from one ear to the other, either because they want to deceive the President that everything is fine in the country or simply because they want a job; for as long as we have MPs who are preoccupied with chatting amongst themselves and using cell phones in the Chambers instead of concentrating on the the debate in the floor of the House, I remain skeptical about the future of the present and the future generation,” said Harrington.