By Patience Lunda:
The Reformed Timber Millers Union (RTMU) has called off vigils it planned to hold on February 1, 2021 at Chikangawa Forestry offices in Mzimba District which were aimed at pushing the government to address their grievances bordering on management of Viphya Plantations.
President of the Union, Paul Nthambazale, said the decision has been arrived at after having an engagement with Vice President, Saulos Chilima and officials from Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources on the matter.
Speaking in Mzuzu, Nthambazale said Chilima has promised to meet them again on February 4 where solutions are expected to be drawn.
“We have decided to call off the vigils because we have been assured by the Vice President that our grievances will be addressed and he has called us for another engagement next week,” he said.
Among others, the union wants government to review the concessions held by foreign owned companies in Chikangawa Forest, particularly Raiply Limited and AKL.
The union also wants indigenous Malawians to be allocated more land in the Viphya plantation to manage as concessionaires.
Before meeting Chilima, the union had an interface with Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources, Nancy Tembo.
The issue was also brought to the attention of President Lazarus Chakwera in a letter dated January 11, 2021.
Spokesperson in the Office of the Vice President Pilirani Phiri could neither confirm nor deny of the meeting and said the Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources was better placed to comment.
Director of Forestry, Clement Chilima, confirmed meeting members of the union but declined to comment further as they are scheduled to meet again.
“We indeed met them and we listened to their grievances but I cannot disclose what transpired from the meeting because we will meet again,” he said.
Viphya Plantations has 53,000 hectares 20 000 of which was allocated to Raiply Malawi.
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues