Govt now sole auctioneer of Mukula tree - Kapata
GOVERNMENT will now be the sole auctioneer of the Mukula tree for the benefit of Zambians, says Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Jean Kapata.
Ms. Kapata said the ban on the sale of the Mukula tree by the private sector would not be lifted but instead the government would own the entire auctioning process on behalf of the people.
The minister made the statement in the former Polish capital of Krakow shortly before her return to Lusaka.
She was in Poland to attend the Conference of Parties, otherwise known as COP24, a UN- organised meeting called to negotiate guidelines for the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
“Government will assume sole ownership of the harvest of the Mukula tree but will invite anyone to come and bid at a publicly held auction sale and the proceeds will go straight into control 99, a government bank account” Ms. Kapata says.
The minister said the government of President Edgar Lungu was fully aware of the discussions and interest around the Mukula tree and had therefore taken that position as the best way to spread the benefits of this natural resource across Zambia.
Ms. Kapata said the Mukula tree was too valuable to be left to a small part of the population to reap the benefits.
The Zambian government had established a committee comprising selected ministries, the House of Chiefs and the Zambia Revenue Authority to look into the operationalisation of the policy on the sale of the Mukula tree.
Ms Kapata observed that since the ban was imposed on the harvesting of the Mukula tree, there had been a significant drop in reports of illegal dealings.
For those dealing in other types of wood such as rosewood, Ms. Kapata said Government was encouraging value addition as opposed to the sale of raw materials.
“We do not want to be importing finished wood products such as furniture when this can be done e in our country and create jobs for our people,” said the minister
Zambians were being encouraged to open companies in different provinces for purposes of working in the wood sector.
Authorities expected the modalities to be worked out soon so that Zambians may begin to enjoy the benefits arising from their natural resources.
Experts said the tree, used for several purposes around the world, including the manufacture of furniture and medicine, grew in abundance in several parts of Zambia.
In most instances, the experts said, where one big Mukula tree stood, there was normally about five small ones growing in close proximity. The tree took several decades to fully mature.