SO, where did the mukula logs laden on the 200 trucks which have been seized in Ndola come from?
This is beginning to smell like another case of high-level corruption possibly involving senior officials of the previous administration.
The Zambian High Commission in Dar-es-Salaam has since confirmed that 200 lorries registered in Tanzania have been seized on the Copperbelt in Zambia because the drivers cannot prove the authenticity of the documents needed for the authorities to clear the cargo.
In 2016, Zambia banned the felling and transporting of mukula, a type of rosewood, as part of efforts to curb its rapid loss fuelled by growing demand in Asia.
Arising from that ban, logs from the mukula tree species cannot be transported, especially through Zambia, without a valid permit.
Last week, Copperbelt Province Permanent Secretary Bright Nundwe said the clearance of the trucks has been delayed by changes to the security wings occasioned by the transition to the new United Party from National Development (UPND) Government in Zambia after last month’s general elections that ousted the Patriotic Front (PF) from power.
It has now emerged that the lorries have been seized because the Tanzanian drivers did not have legal documents and transportation permits to show that the logs were indeed from another country other than Zambia.
This is a worrying development that needs thorough investigation because it adds to the many illegalities that are being unearthed, which were allegedly perpetrated by influential people in the previous administration.
On his election as the seventh President of Zambia on August 12, President Hakainde Hichilema alluded to alleged looting, embezzlement and outright theft of public funds by a clique of privileged individuals with access to the country’s public finance system in the previous administration.
President Hichilema said this should not be allowed to go unpunished.
In an interview with the BBC, the President described the abuse of public funds under the previous regime as “horrifying”.
However, it appears the illegalities were not only limited to abuse of public funds.
It also involved theft or looting of the country’s natural resources perpetrated by privileged individuals at the cost of the poor.
Stakeholders have even alleged that gold mining, which has been going on in locations like Kansenseli in North Western Province, was not being properly accounted for.
Traditional leaders in the province have alleged illegalities which they say need to be stopped by shutting down the mine and investigating what has been happening.
In the same vein, gold mining in Mumbwa and other parts of Zambia, like Katete in Eastern Province, equally needs to be reviewed to see if it is benefitting the country in any way.
So, was the ban of the mukula logs trade just done to play to the gallery while a few ‘connected’ individuals continued depriving the country of this precious resource?
Investigative wings need to get to the bottom of this and many other disturbing issues which have left people wallowing in poverty in a rich country like ours.