By Patson Chilemba
It is a criminal offence for Tasila Lungu to have fenced off Forest Number 70 in Sinda, Eastern Province, says Ministry of Lands and Environmental Protection permanent secretary Ndashe Yumba.
Daily Revelation queried the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to find out how far they had gone in investigating the matter where President Edgar Lungu’s daughter, Tasila, fenced the (approximately 3790 hectares) Forest, having been the recipients of the complaint, but the commission referred the query to the Ministry of Lands as the people who were handling the matter.
When contacted by Daily Revelation, Lands PS Yumba confirmed that it was Tasila who fenced the state forest, commonly known as Chimutengo in Eastern Province.
“The fact is that Tasila Lungu yes did fence off (the Forest), but currently we are in discussions of how to resolve the issue. Yes please,” Yumba said. “It is a national forest, the issue is that we are now going to resolve the issue. Once the issue is resolved we will advise the nation as to what has happened.”
Asked if what Tasila had done was a criminal offence, Yumba said: “It is a criminal offence but it is something that can be discussed. Yes. So we almost about to conclude and once we conclude the action to be taken will be made known”
Yumba’s opening up on the matter is a step back against the background where ruling PF member Colonel Panji Kaunda complained last December that both the permanent secretary and his minister Jean Kapata were not forthcoming on the matter.
In a letter obtained by Daily Revelation, dated December 17, 2019 addressed to ACC director general, and filed with the Commission’s offices in Chipata, ruling PF member Colonel Panji Kaunda stated that efforts to get Kapata and Yumba to act on the matter had proved futile, despite meeting and formally complaining to them.
“Early this year we noticed that Forest 70 also known as Chimutengo Forest in Sinda District is being fenced off. What was of interest to us was that the fencing had included a private farm allegedly owned by Miss Tasila Lungu, and gates had been erected at the entrances of both the private land and the main gate of the forest,” the letter stated in part. “We made inquiries with the forest department in Chipata under whose jurisdiction the said forest falls, we wanted to know if permission was given and who had fenced off both properties.”