President Peter Mutharika has directed Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mines to flush out ministers, senior government officials or any official from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) involved in timber trade or other businesses in the country’s forests.
Speaking in an interview on Thursday, Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mines Bright Msaka said Mutharika does not want any DPP official or any government official to be associated with harvesting of trees.
He said people have been accusing Raiply of benefiting from Viphya Plantation when government officials and other politicians were exporting timber without replanting.
Msaka also said a number of trucks loaded with timber were leaving the country with the help of politicians and no one seemed to care about the depletion of the forest.
“When a minister or other politicians are involved, it is hard to combat illegal activities. The President directed me that no politician should be allowed in the forest. Politicians influence illegal activities and people use them to get away when they are breaching rules,” he said.
Asked if the directive also applies to opposition members, Msaka said Mutharika was referring to people in the ruling party, but the other parties have to learn from DPP.
He said protection of the forest should not be left to government alone.
“The President does not want to see or hear of any official from DPP or ministers being involved in such activities,” said Msaka.
Timber Millers Cooperatives Union president Paul Nthambazale said protection of the forest should not be left to government alone.
He said the union members and communities have to be in the forefront to report illegal activities.