Lands Minister Jean Kapata says owning a plot in Forest Reserve number 27 is not illegal because that land was excised and various Zambians, including ministers and members of parliament, were given plots.

And Kapata says contrary to assertions by former Minister of Transport and Communications William Harrington that it is criminal to own land in the Forest Reserve, being a gazetted area, Zambians are free to own land there because the area has never been restricted.

Reacting to Harrington’s statement that he had evidence to prove that Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini, Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima and herself, as minister, were among other top government officials with plots in the Forest Reserve, Kapata wondered what the former minister’s interest in the land in question was, saying every Zambian had an entitlement to the country’s land resource.

“My dear, first of all, what’s Harrington’s interest in all this? We are all Zambians ourselves, we are all Zambians. Who said we are not entitled to land? That land he (Harrington) is claiming that it was gazetted, it has not been gazetted. That land that was just excised off and ministers and MPs were given plots. So, what’s his interest in this matter altogether? That land was just excised and there is more than one thousand hectors where there is land remaining where the water is. What was excised was even less than 100 hectors,” Kapata said.

Asked if it was true that herself and other top government officials owned plots in the Forest Reserve, Kapata said she could not comment on that, but insisted that nobody should personalise the issue of land ownership where Zambians were concerned.

“I don’t want to comment on that one. Don’t personalise this to an individual. That’s what I am telling you and you must write correctly! If you write otherwise, I know you people just fabricate matters. What I am saying is that the people who have given plots there are Zambians and they (whoever is concerned) shouldn’t personalise who got what or who did what. Waumfwa ka? (You’ve heard, right?) You shouldn’t personalise this! Don’t even pick up the Speaker [of the National Assembly], the what…the judge, banani (and whoever else has a plot there), they are Zambians! So, don’t personalise! And where the river is, there is one thousand hectors left there,” she replied.

Kapata threatened to institute legal proceedings against anybody who personalized land ownership in the Forest Reserve and linked it to her.

“I don’t know, I don’t know what his (Harrington) interest is. But what I am telling you is that don’t personalise who has land there. There are MPs there, there are ministers there, there are other people there. So don’t personalise a person’s name. For me, anybody who personalises me, I will sue them!” she warned.

And she insisted that it was not illegal to have a plot in the Forest Reserve.

“It’s not illegal, it’s not illegal, it’s not illegal, it’s not illegal mama, it’s not. But don’t personalise me, I have not confirmed anything. But I have just said they excised and we gave land to some Zambians there, that’s how the story should come out,” said Kapata.