Government has engaged the Zambia National Service (ZNS) under the Ministry of Defence, to embark on illegal Mukula mopping exercise in the country.
Green Economy and Environment Minister, Collins Nzovu, said the past five years had recorded heightened illegalities in the harvest, trade and export of high value indigenous trees especially the Mukula tree species.
Nzovu in a statement issued in Lusaka on Wednesday said the exercise was meant to identify and collect all illegally harvested Mukula logs laying across the country.
He said the exercise to mop up all illegally harvested Mukula logs across the country would run from November, 1, 2023 to November, 20, 2023.
“These illegalities in the timber sub-sector have caused government to continue losing revenue through fraudulent sales, wrong declarations and smuggling of various illegally harvested tree species,” Nzovu said.
He said the Ministry, would after the exercise immediately engage the Director of Public Prosecutions to institute forfeiture proceedings to seize the said illegally harvested Mukula logs to the State in accordance with the relevant laws.
“Once the Illegally harvested Mukula logs have been forfeited to the State, a Special Committee of Survey will undertake to value the said logs after which, the auctioning of the forfeited logs will be done at each Collection/Satellite Centre,” he said.
Nzovu said this would ensure a fair and transparent way of disposing off the already harvested logs and ultimately limit fraud and other illegalities thus maximising local benefits in the trade and export of indigenous tree species.
“I now wish to take this opportunity to caution and state that, my Ministry, through the Director Forestry in collaboration with the Director of Public Prosecutions, will not hesitate to prosecute anyone aiding and/or abetting an illegality,” he said.
On October 10, 2021 government declared a ban on harvesting and trading in Mukula which ban had remained in effect to date to pave way for a more transparent and beneficial system that not only favour the timber loggers but the merchants as well.
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