mukula, trade

Zambian government auctions seized Mukula logs; traders cry foul

The Zambia government has sold confiscated Mukula logs valued at more than US$20 million, much to the consternation of local traders who say they legally harvested the logs before a trade moratorium was imposed.

Zambian National Association of Sawmillers (ZNAS) president William Bwalya told local media the seized logs were cleared for export to a destination he did not name. “Despite our spirited fight against the illegal seizure of our logs, we have learnt with shock that the timber was cleared for export,” he said.

Over the past few months, local Mukula traders were in a bitter fight with government to stop the sale of the logs. Kumbikilani Phiri, owner of Green Lake Sawmills, said he lost all investments because of the seizure and subsequent sale of his Mukula logs.

“I am shocked. I never expected this to happen, especially after we appealed to higher authorities to intervene,” he said.

Phiri is among several other local timber traders whose Mukula logs were seized when government banned all trade and transit of the tree. They wrote an open letter to President Edgar Lungu to help.

“We have invested a lot of money in this business and we have no other option now. Our appeal is that the president must intervene,” said Joe Simutonga, a sawmiller of Muchinga Province.

Simutonga claims 1 652 logs were confiscated from him, despite him having documents to show he was allowed to harvest it. Following the crackdown, Mukula logs valued at more than US$20 million were seized.

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