NO Zambian should ever feel discriminated against in his or her country. If anything, any decision that Government makes should not leave one feel disillusioned and abandoned.
Yet, that is what appears to be happening to one Zambian who answered the government’s appeal to those in the diaspora to return and invest in their home country.
What Green Lake Zambia Limited proprietor Kumbukilani Phiri is going through makes sad reading.
In his own words, Mr Phiri says “I regret ever listening to Government’s call for people in the diaspora to come back and invest because I have now lost everything I had due to policy inconsistencies and poor decision-making which has characterised the timber sector.”
For Mr Phiri, the bone of contention is why he has been made to forfeit timber that he legally obtained, with all the documents in place without compensation.
Granted that Government banned all licences dealing in timber, what were those companies and individuals to do with the timber in their possession that they obtained legally?
There must be something wrong when innocent people are made to suffer because those in charge effecting certain policies resort to selective enforcement.
This is what Mr Phiri’s fate has been.
The genesis of Mr Phiri’s woes smack of suspicious dealings from the Forestry Department. And that is where the government must probe and stop the rot.
As Mr Phiri explained, the timber was confiscated without a seizure notice from the courts.
“In May, 2017, without any prior communication from the Forestry Department or any Government institution, we were surprised that our site was invaded by a group of soldiers. The soldiers arrested the workers they found on site even when they were not doing anything on account that there was a suspension of timber trading licences.”
Added Mr Phiri: “In July 2017 the soldiers came back to our timber processing site and confiscated all our timber and took it to the District Commissioner’s office… All what the soldiers told us was that they were operating under orders.”
What boggles the mind is that ZAFFICO is in the process of loading this same timber and exporting it to China.
For poor Mr Phiri, all the money that he invested in the business is now going down the drain. He has in fact lost everything, and could well end up a destitute.
What confidence does this bring to any other Zambian for that matter who wants to contribute to the country’s economic development by engaging in lawful business?
If there is a ban on timber exports, let it apply to all individuals and institutions.
We ought to have the same set of rules apply to everyone regardless of status in society. Mr Phiri deserves justice for he did not commit any crime.
Or is it “Animal Farm” revisited?