Govt has sold out 10% of the country’s forestry – M’membe

Dr. Fred M'membe

Govt has sold out 10% of the country’s forestry – M’membe

By Thomas Ngala(The Mast)

IS this the best we can live given the resources God has given us, wonders opposition Socialist Party president Fred M’membe.

And Dr M’membe says the government has sold out 10 per cent of the country’s forestry.

“We are hearing it from outside, from the people they are dealing with. I don’t think they are lying. It must be the truth,” he said in reference to carbon credits.

According to The Guardian, the rights over vast tracts of African forest are being sold off in a series of huge carbon offsetting deals that cover an area of land larger than the UK.

The deals, made by a little-known member of Dubai’s ruling royal family, encompass up to 20 per cent of the countries concerned – and have raised concerns about a new “scramble for Africa” and the continent’s carbon resources.

Such deals can deny the rights of people living on the land to make use of it for their own purposes while providing unclear benefits to the environment. As chairman of the company Blue Carbon, which is barely a year old, Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook al-Maktoum has announced several exploratory deals with African states that are home to crucial wildlife havens and biodiversity hotspots, for land that represents billions of dollars in potential offsetting revenue. The sheikh has no previous experience in nature conservation projects. So far, the deals cover a fifth of Zimbabwe, 10 per cent of Liberia, 10 per cent of Zambia and eight per cent of Tanzania, amounting to a total area the size of the UK. In October, Blue Carbon signed its latest deal for “millions” of hectares of forest in Kenya. The company said it was also working on an agreement with Pakistan. More deals are expected in the coming months. The carbon assets associated with the deals could be bought up by major polluters and used towards their own targets under the Paris agreement. Blue Carbon is based in the UAE, host of the ongoing COP28 summit.

The company hopes credits from the schemes will be traded as country-level contributions to the 2015 Paris agreement, it said in a statement.

CNN also reported that Blue Carbon has secured forested land nearly equivalent to the size of the UK across five African nations to run projects to conserve forests that might otherwise be logged, preventing huge amounts of planet-heating carbon dioxide, or CO2, from entering the atmosphere.

But according to several analysts and climate advocates CNN spoke with, these conservation deals are the latest attempt by the petrostate to use green initiatives as a smokescreen for its plans to continue pumping fossil fuels.

At the same time, the UAE has said it plans to extract its very last barrel of oil 50 years from now, when its reserves are projected to dry up – decades beyond when scientists say society needs to be done with fossil fuel.

Featuring on Prime TV’s Oxygen of Democracy on Monday, Dr M’membe lamented that the cost of living is beyond most of people’s reach.

“Even the middle class are starting to feel it. They can’t run away from it. We are at a crossroads. But a crossroads is not a resting place. When you are at a crossroads you have to find which way to go. Either you go back to where you are coming from or you go right in front of you, or you go to your right or you left,” he said. “A crossroads is a time for initiatives. New initiatives are needed. New ideas are needed. New principles are needed. Not that there are no ideas or there are no principles but situations like this call for more and more strong principles.”

Dr M’membe said the country needs new direction.

He said the path that the country has been on before and after 1964 has failed citizens.

“…more and more better ideas. Where are these ideas going to come from? They will come from all our political thinkers. They will come from our religious thinkers. All authentic religions, not religions created for someone to make some money. They will come from all our philosophers and they will come from the experiences of our people,” Dr M’membe said. “It is very clear, this system of governance has not worked for us and it will not work for us no matter how much we try to cling to it. What have we been subjected to from the time we started this system of governance? We moved away from our traditional system of governance… our destiny is still being decided by other people. Our way of life is still being decided by other people.”

He said Zambians don’t realise that every path is different.

“We don’t even realise that each path is different. We are taking paths that are being dictated to us by others. Or if not dictated, manipulated. We are manipulated to take certain ways, certain paths. In life, you have to be clear about things. It is very important. In life you need to know where you are coming from to understand where you are going,” he said. “Is this the best life we can live? God has been very generous with us, very kind with us. So much resources. So much of minerals. So much of good soils, water and everything that you need to develop, to live better.”

Dr M’membe said Arabs, with minerals not as diverse as Zambia live way much better than Zambians.

He also said the government has sold out 10 per cent of the country’s forestry.

“But look at the conditions of our lives compared to the Arabs who were given very little? Deserts, no water. Only oil. Look at what they are doing with oil or what they have done with the oil. That is nowhere near the immense resources we have. Today they are coming back with the money they have earned from oil to buy huge percentages of our forests. 10 per cent gone,” he said. “We are hearing it from outside, from the people they are dealing with. I don’t think they are lying. It must be the truth. We have a problem that we need to recognise… the statistics from last year’s census show us that poverty is not reducing in this country. It is increasing.”

During the Leaders’ Event on Carbon Markets hosted by the European Union at the COP28, President Hichilema emphasised the importance of the EU’s support to Zambia in terms of institutional and technical capacity in aligning with the Paris initiative on carbon markets.

“We shared that Zambia has implemented a national climate adaptation policy, promoting carbon market development. Additionally, we highlighted ongoing efforts to draft legislation on climate change, incorporating provisions for the advancement of carbon markets,” wrote President Hichilema on his Facebook wall. “We emphasised that rural communities, dependant on natural resources, can actively engage in carbon projects only when the benefits of carbon markets are clearly demonstrated and defined to make it easy for them to participate. We will continue our engagements here (Dubai) for the benefit of our fellow citizens.”



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