Traditional leader loses timber concession licence for engaging foreign nationals


Government has cancelled a timber concession licence given to Chief Chikwa of the Senga people of Chama District in Eastern Province for violating licence conditions.

Green Economy and Environment Minister, Collins Nzovu, said the concession licence was given to the traditional leader through his company called Zizye.

Nzovu in a statement issued in Lusaka on Sunday said the Department of Forest as well as security agencies had unearthed overwhelming evidence that Chief Chikwa, against warning messages, had been engaging foriegn nationals to harvest timber.

He alleged that this was through the use of his license, usually reserved for local people, and that the government had to act to protect the forest resources.

“In late 2022, government issued almost 200 concession licenses in the small and medium categories from over 480 applications which prioritised our local people,” the minister said.

Nzovu stated that this was done in order to do away with the legacy issues where timber harvesting was merely the preserve of the elite and ruling party cadres.

He added that prior to issuing the concession licenses, government had put into consideration the fact that chiefs were custodians of tradition and the people they preside over in their chiefdoms.

“This is the reason the Chiefs were given the licenses because empowering them would have trickle down effects to their subjects through economic activities and employment when harvesting the timber,” Nzovu said.

He stated that government agencies, however, had discovered that contrary to regulation number 11 of the Forest Concession License Regulation of 2016, foreign nationals are involved in the timber harvesting.

The Minister said this was being done at the invitation of local concession holders such as the traditional leader in question.

“The Forest Department has established that the said concession license holder is also harvesting timber beyond the defined or designated forest concession area contrary to section 52 (1) b of the Forest Act of 2015,” Nzovu stated.

He said by transfering the concession license to a foreign individual, the concession license holder had also violated section 61 of the Forest Act as well as section 89 of the Forest Act.

The minister stated that this was as a result of being in illegal possession of forest produce harvested from areas that were not designated for harvesting by their licence.

“To curtail these illegalities further, government has embarked on a vigorous audit of the operations of the 190 timber concession license holders following reports that many have solved their licenses to foreigners,” Nzovu said.

He advised traditional leaders to desist from engaging in such illegalities to avoid being found in confrontation with the law as evidenced by the arrest of a Tanzanian national who was found harvesting timber using a local concession license holder.


Nzovu warned that during the current drought situation, which had been declared a state of emergency by President Hakainde Hichilema, illegal logging and violation of concession licenses would not be tolerated.

Read More: Govt partners Zambia National Service to hunt down traders, seize illegally harvested timber trees

“Protecting the forests from all forms of illegalities including illegal burning of vegetation must be controlled because reckless burning or attempts to burn grass and trees under any circumstances is punishable by law,” he said.

Nzovu added this was punishable under the provisions of Section 330 of the penalty code chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia.

He stated the Ministry had matching orders from the President to ensure that the provisions of the law were adhered to so that the country remained food and water secure.

“This is amidst the drought because besides causing emissions, burning of grass and trees recklessly threatens national food security,” the minister said.

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