Friends Of Zoka Forest Trash Minister's Report

2074 Views Adjumani, Uganda

In short
The group, Friends of Zoka Forest, says the report authored by Esther Mbayo, the Minister for the Presidency is shoddy, poorly drawn and containing a lot of absurdities aimed at exonerating the real culprits.

A new pressure group formed to save Zoka Forest has trashed the ministerial report on the plunder of the forest, saying the report has complicated efforts to achieve tangible solutions to curb illegal lumbering.

The group, Friends of Zoka Forest, says the report authored by Esther Mbayo, the Minister for the Presidency is shoddy, poorly drawn and containing a lot of absurdities aimed at exonerating the real culprits.

William  Amanzuru, the coordinator of the new group says the report observed that there is evidence of depletion of Zoka which is perpetuated by police and military personnel, National Forestry Authority officials and politicians among others. 

The minister's report however left out prominent figures like Adjumani Resident District Commissioner Agnes Akelo, and the District Police Commander, Ojokuna Elayut. Amanzuru says the two names were mentioned frequently during a public rally held at Itirikwa sub county headquarters on August 8th. 

He contends that the observation made by Minister Mbayo that there was evidence of tribal sentiments against the non-Madi government workers is speculative and ill-conceived since the Madi tribe are the most hospitable community in the country.

Commenting on the report during a crisis meeting that was convened at Christ the King Church in Kampala last weekend, Adjumani Woman MP Jessica Ababiku said the report did not look at the illegalities in Zoka Forest. Instead, it concentrated on non-issues without offering solutions.

Beatrice Dipio, the district councillor representing people with disability, said the ministers are now part of the problem since they are not listening to people's complaints.

The report that places the rate of Zoka Forest depletion at between 30-50% concludes that an independent body of investigators be instituted to bring those behind the massive illegal logging to justice.

On July 14 this year, MP Ababiku informed parliament about the depletion of Zoka Forest due to illegal lumbering. Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga consequently instructed the Minister for the Presidency to investigate the matter and brief parliament accordingly.

The report was laid on the floor of parliament on October 5th.