ZAFFICO timber price hike sparks protest, market leaders call for calm


Sawmillers Association for Zambian Pine and Hardwood (SAZPH) says its members are not part of the protests carried by timber dealers against price hike of soft wood.

Zambia Forest and Forestry Industries Corporation (ZAFFICO) announced an increase in the price of soft wood, which led to the demonstrations against the company’s decision.

SAZPH Publicity Secretary Jonathan Mwape said in an interview on Wednesday in Kitwe that his Association believed in dialogue rather than taking it to the streets.

“Accusing ZAFFICO of corruption and accusing them of favouring those who belong to the United Party for National Development (UPND) to us is baseless because the process of picking new timber dealers was transparent and we do not entertain the issue of taking it to the streets,” Mwape said.

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He said leaders of various associations should ensure that their members were curtailed from resorting to violence protests.

Mwape said as much as the Association still think the hiking of pine timber by 25 percent per cubic metre to about K1,500 will hurt businesses, ZAFFICO had been always magnanimous enough to meet stakeholders to iron out issues.

He said his Association was ready to pursue dialogue rather than confrontation which could result in legal consequences.

SAZPH general secretary Josphat Sakahemba said the introduction of a K5,000 penalty fee for timber dealers loading workers onto the timber trucks was also a source of concern for timber dealers.

“We feel charging timber dealers a penalty fee for workers found on top of trucks was too punitive but like our spokesperson said ,we need dialogue,” Sakahemba said.

He said ZAFFICO should be run as a social enterprise to keep the wheels of the economy running.

Sakahemba said as much as the Corporation wanted more profits for its shareholders, a human face was needed especially that timber was

deemed to be the largest employer on the Copperbelt.

ZAFFICO Public Relations Manager Irene Chipili on Monday maintained that customers were notified through their Association that a price adjustment would be affected this year in response to the increasing operational costs such as fuel towards forestry management.

Chipili said ZAFFICO had and would continue taking steps towards sustainable forestry management both in terms of price and volume to be harvested.

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