Former Minister of Transport and Communications William Harrington says media statements from Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya, the Lands PS and the Forestry department have not ironed out the matters in contention regarding Forest 27.
Harrington has been calling for Lands Minister Jean Kapata to cancel all title deeds issued for the Lusaka East Local Forest Reserve 27, saying allocating plots in that area is illegal.
But on Wednesday, the Ministry of Lands, through Permanent Secretary Ndashe Yumba, Acting Commissioner of Lands George Sindila, director of forestry at the Forestry Department Ignatius Makumba; and Siliya justified the allocation of plots in Forest 27 saying there was nothing illegal about how the plots were divided.
The lands commissioner also confirmed that Kapata had a plot in the same forest because she was a Zambian citizen without housing needs like any other person.
But in a statement, Thursday, Harrington wondered why the Permanent Secretary had failed to respond to his letter in which he asked specific questions about the allocation of plots in Forest 27.
“I am very disappointed with Ministry of Lands Permanent Secretary for failing, ignoring or neglecting to respond to my letter or Wednesday 31st July 2019 which is now 15 days ago. In my letter, I am simply seeking clarification and confirmation over certain allegations and matters relating to the controversial de-gazzeting of the local east local forest reserve Number 27. The Permanent Secretary has instead attempted to justify the allocation of plots in the forest reserve through issuance of press statements from Lands Commissioner which are not helpful to addressing public concerns over the matter of Forest Reserve number 27,” Harrington stated.
“I am aware that the PS at lands has been hosting late night meetings at his office trying desperately to find answers to my enquiry but why has he not not favoured me with a hard copy response?”
Meanwhile, Harrington warned Siliya to desist from “defending the indefensible”, reminding her that she was not an environmental law expert.
“I will also take this opportunity to advise Chief Government Spokesperson, Dora Siliya to desist from attempting to defend the indefensible. Dora was a very good news caster at ZNBC many years ago. But that does (not) make her an expert on land law, environmental laws or the Water Act. Dora risks being sueponed to the tribunal to testify on whatever she knows regarding Forest Reserve Number 27 should I decide (to) apply for appointment of a tribunal. In the meantime, Dora will be well advised to stay clear,” state Harrington.