Civil society organisations (CSOs) have demanded government organs involved in proliferation of illegal charcoal production and sales to urgently investigate the matter and punish officers involved.
This follows an investigation which our sister newspaper Weekend Nation published on January 30 2021 titled ‘Our sting,’— which uncovered on how government organs such as the Malawi Police Service (MPS), Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources, Department of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) and Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) are propelling charcoal trade in the country.
In a joint press statement, dated February 6, the CSOs say the story reminded Malawians that the Covid-19 pandemic should not make people lose focus from resolving other crises, including forest and environmental degradation.
“The story once again reminded us that most of our government systems are still weak and rotten requiring urgent attention. The story highlights glaring shortfalls in the management of forest resources and drive towards addressing charcoal and energy crisis in Malawi,” reads the statement in part.
They have also asked all involved government organs to issue a statement on how they will curb illegal charcoal trafficking in the short, medium and long-term.
“The Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources should step up enforcement and apprehend all illegal charcoal traffickers. The ministry should also update the nation on what it is doing to promote clean and efficient cooking energy in the country. They should also come up with a master-plan for up-scaling the use of Liquid Petroleum Gas in the country as soon as possible,” reads the statement, in part.
The group comprises nine CSOs which are Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy, Malawi Environmental Endowment Trust, Civil Society Network on Climate Change, Sustainable Development Initiative, Cure, Movement for Environmental Action, Churches Action in Relief and Development, The Association of Environmental Journalist in Malawi and National Youth Network on Climate Change.
Meanwhile, Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources Nancy Tembo has said her ministry has engaged the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to investigate each of the charges of corruption identified through the story.
“The director of Forestry and the entire ministry management take these accusations very seriously, and will fully support the investigation in any way deemed appropriate by the ACB,” says Tembo.