Reformed Timber Millers Union (RTMU) has teamed up with some chiefs, querying government for allegedly favouring foreign concessionaires over locals in the Timber Processing business in Viphya Plantation in Mzimba and Nkhata Bay districts.
Speaking during a meeting with some traditional leaders from the two districts at the weekend in Mzuzu, RTMU president Paul Nthambazale said they were also surprised with government’s order for them to vacate the plantation, widely known as Chikangawa after a town on the plateau.
“When we went for a review meeting, government promised that we would be given another special licence after the first one expired in April this year, only to receive a letter that we should vacate the forest,” he said.
Nthambazale said two foreign concessionaires have debts of over K351 million and K87 million, respectively, but Capital Hill is allegedly not pushing them in the same manner it does with the union.
Senior Chief Mtwalo of Mzimba said the chiefs will be meeting the Minister of Energy, Natural Resources and Mining soon to present the matter for action.
In an interview yesterday, Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining spokesperson Sangwani Phiri said the union was trying to buy sympathy from chiefs.
“We gave them 10 000 hectares for 15 years, but they plundered it in less than two years and they owe government heavily,” he said.